Tuesday, September 06, 2005
John Paul Stevens for chief justice: In the wake of William Rehnquist's death and John Roberts' subsequent shift to filling the chief justice vacancy, senators Chuck Schumer, John Corzine and Teddy Kennedy have said that this raises the stakes for his nomination.
"The chief justice is the most important judge in the country, with even more responsibility for the protection of the rights and freedoms of all Americans," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Thus John Roberts bears a heavier burden when he comes before the Senate."
Kennedy is a lawyer, yet his legal recitation of the chief justice's duties are, well, wrong.
The chief justice's additional "powers" are mostly ceremonial and mostly useless for the protection of "the rights and freedoms of all Americans." It's not like the chief justice's vote counts as two versus just one for the associate justices. Heck, the only substantive benefit for Roberts of being nominated chief justice is that Steven Breyer still has to jump up and open the door when the justices are meeting in chambers.
For that reason, a meaningless sop to the loony left would be to nominate John Paul Stevens to the chief justice's slot. It's all much ado about nothing.