Chief Justice Rehnquist died this past weekend leaving open one of the most powerful positions, if not the most powerful position, in the United States Government.
I had fully expected Bush to nominate Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas, two of the most outspoken conservatives on the bench. Their decisions fit in nicely with Bush's politics so I thought their nomination would be a shoe in. I was wrong.
Instead, Bush has nominated John Roberts to take Rehnquist's seat rather than Sandra Day O'Conner's. I view this as proof that Bush knows his power is waning. By all accounts, Roberts will be very difficult for the Senate to not confirm. Republicans love him and Democrats can't find any dirt or reason to not confirm him. Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low. For him to nominate Scalia or Thomas would start a political battle that Bush probably can't survive. He and Republicans have drawn sharp criticism for both the rising price of gas and their handling of the Katrina Disaster.
America is a funny place. Americans are so very short-sighted. They worry about the here and now. It's one of the reasons that Americans have such a low savings rate and such a high consumption rate. Most of middle-class america voted for Bush because they believe Republicans are better able to handle the economy and because of the War in Iraq. However, a majority of America is Pro-Choice. An even larger majority do not want to see Roe V. Wade overturned. A majority favors Affirmative Action. Yet Bush's impact will be long and far-reaching. Judge Roberts, if confirmed will serve and lead the court for 25 or 30 years. Whoever Bush nominates to fill the other seat will most likely serve the same amount of time.
One of the reasons I vote Democratic even though I have strong conservative views on the economy is because I have very strong views on personal liberty and freedom. Being able to nominate Supreme Court Justices is a very powerful thing, being able to nominate a Chief Justice is even more so. It was a power I did not want to give Bush. Now that this seat is going to be cemented with a conservative for the next quarter century and the balance of power is going to be firmly cemented in the conservative corner, it will just give me one less reason to vote Democratic in the 2008 elections.