I just got off a conference call with some insiders in Washington. The buzz up there is not just on the bombings, but also on William Rehnquist. A Supreme Court source says the “writing is on the wall” that the Chief Justice could resign at any time. A White House source and a Senate source concur.
The speculation is that Rehquist is a team player, but he is also the Chief Justice of the United States and head of the third branch of government — he’s not fully prone to waiting for the timing of another branch of government. At the same time, the thinking goes that if the Chief goes now, it throws more confusion into the process and might actually make things a bit easier for the White House, which is something the Chief might be interested in helping facilitate.
Prior to O’Connor resigning, the thought was that Garza would be a possible replacement for O’Connor. The renewed speculation is that Garza is in the mix as is Cornyn. While Gonzales has not been taken off the list, signs are starting to point to Gonzales staying where he is. The President very much wants a Hispanic on the court and Garza makes logical sense. and would send a strong signal if he were picked as Chief Justice. Scalia and Thomas, I’m told, are not even in the running.
Likewise, private polling as well as the Gallup poll indicate that the American people are trending toward the White House on the issue and away from the Democrats who, according to the private polling in particular, are already presumed to be against anyone the President picks — no matter how credible. I’m told that a private poll is making the rounds that clearly connects the “pledge of allegiance” decision from the 9th Circuit to the types of judges Democrats are more likely to favor and the public in general is least likely to favor.
The White House, by all accounts, is keeping the lid on tight and is also in this to win. If Rehnquist does step down soon, Karl “The Dark Lord” Rove just might be in a strong position to bring order out of chaos and victory out of confusion.
Update [2005-7-7 11:41:50 by Erick]: One person last week was adamant in conversations with me that O’Connor was headed out the door on Friday. Our conversation was Thursday. The same person says that there is a “definite change in tenor” at the Supreme Court today, much as there was last week. It could just be the news from London, but this person thinks there is more to it. But, the Marshal’s office is apparently silent.