Saturday, January 21, 2006

Alito's Not O'Connor's Replacement

Yeah, you heard it. I'm sick and tired of media outlets saying the court would shift dramatically because of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor being replaced by a conservative like Judge Samuel Alito. A little recap of recent history would help. John Roberts was nominated as O'Connor's replacement. While just how conservative he is is not clear, he didn't appear to be too far off center, and appeared to be a reasonable choice for the swing vote. Then, Judge Rehnquist passed away and Roberts filled that slot instead. So as it stands, we arguably had a shift to a more liberal court than before the Rehnquist passing. Alito is intended as a Rehnquist replacement, not one for O'Connor.

That's not to say that the court will not become more conservative. It probably will - although judges are known to shift after being appointed to the court. But I think emphasizing Alito as O'Connor's replacement overstates that case.

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