Supreme Court's Future

January 28, 2005 • Volume 15, Issue 4
Can President Bush change the balance of power?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, shown in December 2003, is now fighting cancer and is expected to retire soon, giving President Bush a chance to put his stamp on the high court.  (AFP Photo/Getty Images/Joyce Nalchayan)
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, shown in December 2003, is now fighting cancer and is expected to retire soon, giving President Bush a chance to put his stamp on the high court. (AFP Photo/Getty Images/Joyce Nalchayan)

For the past 18 years, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has led a Supreme Court with a tenuous conservative majority and a cohesive liberal bloc. Now battling cancer, Rehnquist is widely expected to retire soon, perhaps before the end of the court's current term this summer. That would allow President Bush to put his stamp on the court, which has had no vacancies for more than 10 years. Other justices are nearing the end of their tenure also, including the court's most liberal member, John Paul Stevens. Bush has promised to nominate conservative jurists to the court, which could touch off fierce confirmation fights in the closely divided Senate. Republicans are already angry with Democrats' tactics in blocking votes on Bush nominees for lower courts. Meanwhile, the court's calendar includes controversial cases to be decided soon on the death penalty, church-state relations and property rights.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Supreme Court
Sep. 28, 2012  Supreme Court Controversies
May 13, 2011  Class Action Lawsuits
Jan. 28, 2005  Supreme Court's Future
Sep. 17, 1993  Supreme Court Preview
Aug. 14, 1987  Supreme Court Nomination
Sep. 26, 1986  The Rehnquist Court
Oct. 26, 1979  Supreme Court and the Press
Sep. 22, 1978  Burger Court's Tenth Year
Jun. 24, 1977  Politics and the Federal Courts
Oct. 09, 1968  Challenging of Supreme Court
Sep. 28, 1966  Supreme Court: Legal Storm Center
Jan. 22, 1958  Criminal Prosecution and the Supreme Court
Jan. 23, 1952  Judges in Politics
Jun. 05, 1939  Supreme Court Decisions, 1938–39
Nov. 17, 1938  Supreme Court Appointments
May 31, 1938  Supreme Court Decisions, 1937–38
Jun. 01, 1937  Supreme Court Decisions, 1936–37
Jun. 01, 1936  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1935-36
Jun. 05, 1933  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1932-33
Jun. 04, 1932  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1931–32
Jun. 06, 1931  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1930–31
Jun. 09, 1930  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1929–30
Jun. 10, 1929  Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1928-29
Jun. 09, 1928  Decisions of the Supreme Court 1927–28
Sep. 27, 1924  The Supreme Court Issue
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Judicial Appointments