Blogs > Cliopatria > Karl Rove's Dream: Part II

Jul 6, 2005 4:28 pm

Karl Rove's Dream: Part II

The other day (here) I postulated that Karl Rove is probably dreaming that William Rehnquist will resign because that would give President Bush the opportunity to make three nominations (2 new justices and one chief justice). This would allow him to nominate Gonzales by appeasing the right-wing with the other 2 nominations.

At the time I was blogging I didn't have John Ehrman's new book on The Eighties handy to refer to, but now I do. He offers a parallel strategy pursued by Ronald Reagan. (Pmage 143.)

In 1986 Chief Justice Burger resigned. This gave Reagan two openings. He made Rehnquist chief justice and made Scalia an associate justice.

Rehnquist's elevation drew fire from liberals and they opposed him. But having opposed Rehnquist they were not in a position to simultaneously oppose Scalia. Except in extraordinary circumstances--think Carswell and Haynesworth--senators don't like to court controversy by opposing two of a president's nominees in succession. Doing so makes them look like purists to their political colleagues. In the world of politics this is tantamount to the mark of Satan.

In this case President Bush would be employing a similar strategy. He would be using the elevation of Scalia to chief justice to draw the support of the right to cover his nomination of his great friend Gonzales. To sweeten the meal he'd toss the right the bone of another rightwinger for his third nomination.

But all this depends on Rehnquist resigning.

Bill--are you reading this?

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