U.S. News reports in their Washington Whispers column that in addition to Rehnquist, "Bush aides also expect John Paul Stevens, 82, and Sandra Day O’Connor, 72, to quit soon." Stevens is probably the most difficult to believe. While it was previously fairly common-knowledge that Stevens, who was appointed by a Republican, wished to stay in office to be replaced by a Republican (despite his liberal voting practice), that presumption has recently switched, and many believe that the 82 year-old Justice is trying to wait it out until at least the ’04 elections.
Washington Whispers also suggests that the leading contenders to take the job of Chief Justice are Scalia and Thomas. While it is possible that Bush would tap one of these current Justices, I don’t think either would particularly like the job. Scalia relishes the role of bombthrower too much, which is a vital function he could not perform if he were in the conciliatory position of Chief. And Thomas rightly has no desire to sit before the unsavory jackals which make up the Senate Judiciary Committee again. No, I still think the smart money says that Bush will appoint someone from outside the Supreme Court to become Chief Justice.