Justice Thomas once again demonstrates why he is quite possibly the finest jurist on the court in his Grutter opinion. He begins with a long quotation from Frederick Douglass speech, "What the Black Man Wants," which denounces pity in favor of justice. He then quickly decimates the Courts opinion, noting that "[t]he majority upholds the Law Schools racial discrimination not by interpreting the peoples Constitution, but by responding to a faddish slogan of the cognoscenti." These words from the man who should be, and could be, Chief.
I doubt that Bush, much to chagrin of Justice Kennedy, will elevate anyone when Rehnquist steps down. Let us not forget that Justice Thomas had the most nay votes for his nomination of anyone in the modern era (with Rehnquist close behind), and this was before people like Chuck Schumer knew how he would vote on such issues as Roe. A more likely possibility I see is that Bush nominates Emilio Garza from the 5th circuit.
Rod: I wish you were correct about Garza, but I fear that if Bush puts forward a Hispanic nominee for Chief, it would be Gonzales. For those who are unfamiliar with Gonzales, he basically OConnor without the skirt.
I think Bush surely wants to see Gonzales on the court, but I think that there is one problem. Say Rehnquist retires this term and OConnor decides not to (word is she has hired law clerks for next year). You have then Gonzales replacing a reliably solid conservative vote, and OConnor remaining on the court. Gonzales is the perfect person to replace OConnor. The confirmation fight over who replaces OConnor is going to be bitter, because everyone knows that she is the swing. Remember when the last swing vote retired...1987! I feel like Bush should be thinking about replacing Rehnquist with a reliable conservative like Garza (not sure any of the 4th circuit guys like Wilkinson would get by Chuckee Cheese Schumer), and hold on to Gonzales in his pocket as a possible replacement for OConnor.
Ill throw two more names out there just as possibilities. One is Edith Jones. If both Oc and R retire, it could be a coup for Bush to nominate a woman and a hispanic. The other is the extremely well-respected and very intelligent Michael McConnell. Yes, McConnell was only recently put on the federal courts, but he was approved by such a margin, despite a heavy paper trail, because many see his intellect as that superior. It could put some in a difficult position to vote against someone they so recently approved of...btw, in a question and answer session I had with Justice Scalia a few years ago, he said flat out he did not believe that anyone who publibly announced that they believed roe v. wade was wrongly decided would ever be confirmed to the Supreme Court. We might begin to find out whether that is true soon.