President Bush, who has taken a lot of heat for the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, again proved yesterday that he is a very shrewd politician by nominating Justince John Roberts to succeed the late William Rehnquist as Chief Justice.
By elevating Roberts to the Chief Justice seat, President Bush has changed the dynamics of the debate and has cleared the way for an easier confirmation.
Two silly arguments had been floated through the media during the debate over Roberts' nomination to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. First, there was the argument that since O'Connor was a moderate that President Bush should replace her with another moderate. Last time I checked President Bush was a conservative. He has the right to nominate anyone he wants. Why wouldn't a conservative president nominate a conservative justice?
The second arguement was that O'Connor's replacement needed to be a woman. The President's job is to nominate the best person for the job regardless of race, sex or any other demographic. Although there were a number of qualified women Bush could have nominated it's clear he picked the best judge available in Roberts. Bush may still nominate a woman to replace O'Conner. As Captain Ed points out, both Janice Rogers Brown and Edith Hollan Jones are considered leading candidates to fill the Court's remaining vacancy.
Although Democrats are inclined to reflexively oppose this President at every turn they would be better served to allow Roberts to be confirmed and save what little political capital they have for the next Supreme Court nominee. The Hill is already reporting that 25 Democratic Senators could vote to confirm Roberts. (Hat tip: Confirm Them)
It's safe to assume that Schumer, Kennedy, and other prominent Senate Democrats will use the confirmation hearings to try to make as much trouble for Roberts as they can. In the end, he should be confirmed easily. Then the real battle will begin.