10 July 2005

BREAKING NEWS: O'Connor may accept Chief Justice if offered

This morning on CBS' Face The Nation, host Bob Schieffer spoke with the Republican Chairman and the Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), respectively. On the show, the panel carefully disected the wording used by Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in her letter to President George W. Bush. The thought among the panel was that there was a significant chance that O'Connor would stay on the United States Supreme Court if President Bush were to elevate her to the position of Chief Justice.

In her letter to the president, O'Connor said, "This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor." (emphasis added) It is important to note that O'Connor did not state that she would retire from the Supreme Court, simply resign her position as associate justice.

Both Specter and Leahy confirmed that a group of senators had approached O'Connor within the past month and floated the idea of her becoming the next Chief Justice. According to both Specter and Leahy, she was very much interested in the possibility.

Of course, this whole scenario depends on a vacancy in the top position. Whether Chief Justice William Rehnquist will resign is the subject of much debate in Washington and throughout the country. No one knows what will happen, and O'Connor is not confirming or denying whether she would stay if the top position were offered. We'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE (5:03 PM): Face The Nation has now made their transcript available. Download it here [PDF - 60.0 KB]. You will find the discussion about O'Connor waiting for the Chief Justice offer beginning on page six.


Blogger Kartik said...

I saw the same Face the Nation interview and came up with the same interpretation. Clearly, O'Conner wants to be considered for Chief Justice when Renquist retires!

12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous tdog said...

This is huge! The Democrats should be out pushing this as hard as they can. The conservatives have had a field day beating up on O'Connor for the past week. Democrats should be claiming her as their candidate and put the right-wing extremists on the defensive. Democrats need to push O'Connor for Chief Justice hard.

5:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democrats would be smart to actively push for O'Connor to be named Chief Justice. The conservatives have been bad mouthing O'Connor horribly since she resigned. By the Democrats supporting her, they would drive a wedge between the ultra-right conservatives and the mainstream public. It would make them look as crazy as they did when the Schiavo thing happened.

9:10:00 AM  

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