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Get It Right

From the November 13, 2004 issue: Now that Bush has won a second term, what he should look for in his first Supreme Court nominee

Nov 22, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 10 • By TERRY EASTLAND, FOR THE EDITORS
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Whatever else Bush may take into account in selecting the first nominee, he must make sure that he picks a bona fide judicial conservative. Not only might the president not get another chance to nominate a justice, but it would make no sense to replace a judicial conservative, which Rehnquist most demonstrably is, with someone whose philosophy of judging is the opposite or, more likely, indiscernible because undeveloped. (Repeat after us: No more Souters--but also no more O'Connors.) Furthermore, a judicial conservative can be confirmed. Those Senate Democrats who insist on maintaining the Court's current ideological balance cannot credibly object to a successor to Rehnquist who holds the same philosophy as he. And moderate Senate Democrats can tell liberal interest groups that, after all, because this is already a "conservative seat," they can't be expected to go up against a recently reelected president on this nomination.

The president should be willing to expend in behalf of his choice some of that political capital he talked the other day about having earned. But the stars are well aligned for his first nomination: The president has every opportunity to select a stellar constitutional jurist, and to get him (pretty easily, we suspect) confirmed. Just do it.

--Terry Eastland, for the Editors