Monday, October 25, 2004

Rehnquist Hospitalized for Cancer -- Democrats Nervously Check Polls

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (evidently the second oldest man ever to be chief justice of the Supreme Court at 80) was hospitalized with thyroid cancer over the weekend. He underwent a tracheotomy on Saturday, but expects to be back when the Supreme Court returns to work next Monday.

As many folks know, Rehnquist is frequently mentioned as a possible retirement prospect, although he has hired law clerks through June 2006, and has made no mention of stepping down. However, this sort of news puts political-types on notice, as the makeup of the Supreme Court will likely be affected by the results of this election (these folks are old, lemme tell you).

Democrats in particular are nervous about this, as there has been mention that Bush would like to replace Rehnquist with Justice Clarence Thomas. Apart from his alleged penchant for the films of a Mr. L.D. Silver (and talent for spotting pubic hair on soft drink cans), he is criticized by many for not abiding by the Supreme Court's tradition of stare decisis: that the Supreme Court will recognize prior court decisions and not disturb settled law without special justification.

In fact, Justice Antonin "Stop Calling Me Nino" Scalia said that Justice Thomas "doesn't believe in stare decisis, period." Scalia also said, "If a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let's get it right. I wouldn't do that." Didn't Pres. Bush say (about a billion times) that he did not want "activist judges" on the Supreme Court?

Maybe it is not just Democrats who should be nervous . . .