O’Connor, Not Rehnquist?

A little birdie told Bill Kristol that a Supreme Court justice will retire next week–but it won’t be the Chief Justice but rather the first woman on the court.

O’Connor, Not Rehnquist?

Warning: THIS IS SPECULATION. Obviously, I think it’s somewhat well-informed speculation, or else I wouldn’t be writing this. But it is speculation.

(1) There will be a Supreme Court resignation within the next week. But it will be Justice O’Connor, not Chief Justice Rehnquist. There are several tea-leaf-like suggestions that O’Connor may be stepping down, including the fact that she has apparently arranged to spend much more time in Arizona beginning this fall. There are also recent intimations that Chief Justice Rehnquist may not resign. This would be consistent with Justice O’Connor having confided her plan to step down to the chief a while ago. Rehnquist probably believes that it wouldn’t be good for the Court to have two resignations at once, so he would presumably stay on for as long as his health permits, and/or until after Justice O’Connor’s replacement is confirmed.

(2) President Bush will appoint Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to replace O’Connor. Bush certainly wants to put Gonzales on the Supreme Court. Presidents usually find a way to do what they want to do.

As I argued Sunday, Gonzales would be rather thin gruel indeed for Republicans as a Rehnquist replacement but would be about right in case of an O’Connor or other more moderate justice leaving. Interesting speculation, at any rate.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.