Supreme Court watch

By Mark Follman

Published January 24, 2005 10:18PM (EST)

It didn't take more than a glance at ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist during President Bush's inauguration to know that he isn't long for the gig. Time Magazine speculates that the venerable Antonin Scalia has the best chance of getting the nod from Bush to fill the top job.

"If he does not go outside for the job, President Bush will probably choose one of the court's two most stalwart conservatives, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Scalia seems to have the edge. 'The idea of appointing the first African-American Chief Justice has undeniable appeal to the President,' says a top Republican who informally advises the White House on judicial nominations. 'But there'd be a huge fight over Thomas, and the President doesn't need a fight.' Though Scalia's conservatism irks many Democrats, he was confirmed easily by the Senate in 1986, and would probably be confirmed again without too much trouble."

Indeed, if the recent confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales and Condi Rice are any indication, the Dems should be no trouble at all.

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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