There's so much to cover here, but I'll start with what inspired me to post in the first place.
Chuck Muth had this in his today's News 'N Views newsletter:
"The hot rumor yesterday was that Chief Justice William Rehnquist would resign from the Supreme Court today. The hot rumor today is that Justice John Paul Stevens will join him."
This would give George Bush an unprecedented three nominations at once. I haven't checked, but in my readings on the vacancies - and there have been plenty of pixels killed on this subject already - I don't get the feeling that a single president has had the opportunity to nominate three justices at once. I'll do some more checking and update as I learn more.
Three nominations would give George Bush the chance to really put his money where his mouth is. With Scalia and Thomas two of the younger remaining six, Bush has the chance to install an "originalist" bloc on the Court. During his campaign in 2000, the only two names out of his lips were Scalia and Thomas. But does he have the guts to do it?
Probably not. And this leads me to my next point(s). Where did this idea come from that each justice had to be replaced with a justice of equal judicial temperament, thereby maintaining the ideological balance of the Court? This is a recent phenomenon, I'm sure. And I'm sure it started with Thurgood Marshall's retirement, when it seemed George H. W. Bush was compelled to fill Marshall's seat with an African-American. Of course, the last laugh was on Papa Bush on that one.
Anyway, Bush the Younger should bear that nomination in mind. And not because he promised to nominate more judges like Thomas, but because it would give him a chance to pull a Thomas, on the court. You want a judge that "looks like America"? The first female justice on the Court just retired? Gotta replace her with another woman? Meet Judge Janice Rogers Brown. (I'll admit to cribbing this idea from Chuck Muth but I think it's great.) She's fresh off a Senate confirmation hearing, so it would make it harder for Democrat obstructionists (and their muckraking partners) to derail her.
Thomas Sowell recently wrote a very candid column that sounded his (and echoed many others') genuine anger at the Democrat's judicial obstructionism and the Republicans almost willful inability to do anything about it. I mean, it's been one defeat after another. First the filibusters of highly-qualified men and women who were punished for their supposed (and, in some cases, genuinely-held) views and not being judged on their abilities as jurists. Then the Republicans long non-campaign against the obstructionism, during which Bill Frist threatened endlessly to invoke the "nuclear option". Indeed, Frist was able to keep the conversation on the "nuclear option" going for so long that the left had time to organize and mount a media campaign against it.
Then came the "Gang of Fourteen"'s deal to avert the "nuclear option". In this episode, seven brave Senators from each party broke from the ranks to the middle (if you believe the conventional media's portrayal) - led by one of the only Republican that the mainstream media likes, John McCain, but only because he's continually putting his thumb in his own party's eye - and brokered a deal to, well, to not use the filibuster again....unless we really, really need to, to block someone we really, really don't like (this being the Democrat's side of the deal). And in exchange the Republicans got floor votes on, like, three nominees that should have had floor votes in the first place.
Of course, this deal does nothing for eminently qualified nominee Miguel Estrada who withdrew his name after twisting in the wind for two years for being, what? Too Hispanic? (I thought that would be a good thing. You know, diversity.) Not having a paper trail? Having the cojones to be a conservative Hispanic? It's still not clear.
And, I can't let pass without comment (as others have already commented) the revulsion I feel upon hearing Ted Kennedy's thoughts on the judicial nomination process. For those of you that don't recall, Ted Kennedy is basically the reason that Robert Bork's surname is now a verb denoting an unfair, often scurrilous, attack against a presidential nominee. Back in 1987 Ted Kennedy launched his almost instantaneous attack on what he called "Robert Bork's America", an America where abortions will be relegated to back alleys, blacks and whites will return to separate lunch counters, the sun won't shine any more, birds will stop singing. You get the picture. All bad things. Kennedy offered not one passage of Bork's writings, not one public statement, nothing in Bork's considerable "paper trail", not one shred of evidence, much less proof, that Bork held anything even remotely close to such views. And yet that fat windbag still sits in the Senate, and Robert Bork commutes to and from the AEI building, working in relative obscurity, instead of on the High Court on which he was eminently qualified to sit.
By the way, all the usual suspects in a confirmation fight, People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice, NARAL, et al., swear that they won't automatically oppose any nominee sent to the Senate by Bush. Yeah, and if you believe that insert your favorite joke implying massive gullibility here. While they all say they won't, as a matter of course, oppose any nominee, they've been buying up domain names like: stopgonzales.com, stopluttig.com, stopalito.com, and stopgarza.com. And not content with merely (perhaps) using these domains to launch websites designed to coordinate effort to defeat potential Bush nominees, they've also bought up domains like: confirmgonzales.com, confirmluttig.com, confirmalito.com, and confirmgarza.com. Now, why would they do such a thing? Perhaps they weren't lying when they said they might support a Bush nominee. Yeah, and if you believe that insert your favorite joke implying massive gullibility here.
I really hope that George Bush has the same kind of courage in making these choices as he's shown in fighting the Islamists. I really do. I hope he realizes that they are going to attack and put through the meat grinder any nominee he sends up, and so you might as well get one up there you want.
The Democrats aren't going to like you or praise you, no matter what you do. So, screw 'em! No matter whose name gets sent up, they're going to be an "extremist", someone out of "Bork's America (a place, which if it did exist as Ted Kennedy described it, certainly doesn't now). And when it's the Democrats' turn to govern again, they will not hesitate to nominate and confirm another Breyer or Ginsburg. And they certainly aren't going to pull out any stops to derail your nominee, so pick a good one! This is too important to screw up.