With the possibility -- and what some commentators say is the probability -- that between one and three Supreme Court justices will retire during the next four years, the next president could have an enormous and lasting impact on the nation's highest Court and its legal and social policy.
Lost amidst all the punditeering about the potential Democratic resurgence today is the possibility that an ill-advised education scheme touted by a conservative group could also find new life, as the result of a pending Colorado ballot initiative. The education funding proposal known as the “65 percent solution” is misleading at best, and seriously (perhaps deliberately) harmful to public education at worst.
With Chief Justice William Rehnquist's resignation seemingly imminent, George W. Bush's first chance to reshape the Supreme Court looks to be at hand. Bush's record of nominations to federal appeals courts is clear; if at all possible, he will seek to appoint an uncompromising conservative to the Supreme Court. This shouldn't be all that surprising, given that, as a presidential candidate, Bush held out Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as his judicial models.
The conclusion of the Supreme Court's term usually brings a spate of opinions in the most contentious and closely divided cases of the year, and this year's session did not disappoint. On its final day, the Court issued four 5-to-4 rulings, among them its controversial decisions on school vouchers and student drug testing. All but lost in the ensuing hubbub was an important holding that struck down a limitation on the speech of candidates for state judicial office. In finding that the First Amendment rights of judicial candidates outweigh a state's efforts to curtail abuses of the process, the Court threw into question similar regulations in 38 other states.