Rumors that Justice John Paul Stevens is about to step down from the Supreme Court are a recurring feature of the legal gossip landscape. As we previously observed, JPS retirement rumors “return each spring, with the birds and the flowers.”
But hey, we’re good sports, so we’ll blog about them. ‘Cause one of these days, they might actually turn out to be true — and we wouldn’t want to be caught flat-footed. (Our personal view, though, is that Justice Stevens will leave the Court as the late Chief Justice Rehnquist did — through death, not retirement.)
Anyway, here’s the latest gossip. Per Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, and an active participant in judicial confirmation battles:
For the past several weeks, there has been a rumor circulating among high-level officials in Washington, D.C., that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court has received grave medical news and will announce his or her retirement by year’s end. While such rumors are not unusual in the nation’s capital, this one comes from credible sources. Additionally, a less credible but still noteworthy post last week at the liberal Democratic Underground blog says, “Send your good vibes to Justice Stevens. I just got off the phone with a friend of his family and right now he is very ill and at 86 years old that is not good.”
President Bush isn’t looking very far for his next conservative pick to the U.S. Supreme Court: His top two candidates work just 12 blocks away in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Insiders say Judge Janice Rogers Brown, appointed in June 2005, tops the list, followed by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, appointed in May.
Also up: Peter Keisler, whose nomination to the D.C. court is pending. So there’s no vacancy, you say? With apologies to Justice John Paul Stevens, 86, it’s his seat they hope to fill.
As ATL readers know, we love ourselves some Janice Rogers Brown. But would this outspoken, conservative judicial diva be able to make it through a Democrat-controlled Senate? The same goes for Brett Kavanaugh, whom Senator Chuck Schumer once described as “the Zelig of young Republican lawyers.”
So we’d be interested in your views on a question that a (clearly conservative) reader sent to us earlier today:
How about a piece on SCOTUS candidates Bush could get through the Senate now that it’s controlled by Communists?
(Now now, dear reader, conservatives are trying to play NICE with Nancy Pelosi and her pals. No name calling.)
One obvious response: Maureen Mahoney (above right). We previously wrote about Mahoney in great detail over here. We expressed concerns over whether she would be perceived as conservative enough to secure the nomination. But in a Senate controlled by Democrats, being a moderate conservative — as opposed to a hardline one — would be a plus.
Update: Lots of interesting names in the comments.
The Rumor About John Paul Stevens [Human Events]
Talking About Judge Brown [Confirm Them]
Another Reason to Go GOP [Confirm Them]
Washington Whispers [U.S. News and World Report]
Maureen Mahoney: “The Female John Roberts”? [Underneath Their Robes]