William Rehnquist - Reaction - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

William Rehnquist - Reaction

WILLIAM REHNQUIST-REACTION

President Bush expresses sadness at Rehnquist's death

WHITE HOUSE (AP) _ The White House calls the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist "a tremendous loss for our nation" and has issued a statement of condolence on behalf of President Bush.

Bush was notified about Rehnquist's death shortly before 11 p-m Eastern time Saturday. It will be up to the president to nominate Rehnquist's successor on the Supreme Court.

White House counselor Dan Bartlett says: "President Bush and Mrs. Bush are deeply saddened by the news" of Rehnquist's death. Bartlett calls it "a tremendous loss for our nation."

The White House says the president, after attending church services on Sunday, will make a statement about Rehnquist.

REHNQUIST-WHAT'S NEXT

Bush given rare opportunity to name chief justice

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The death of William Rehnquist opens up the chief justice seat on the Supreme Court for the first time in two decades.

The president could elevate a current justice to the top chair, possibly Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas. Or he could pick someone new, even the current Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

Bush picked Roberts, a conservative, white male to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and will undoubtedly face pressure to name a woman or a Hispanic for the additional vacancy.

Without O'Connor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the sole female on the court.

Politics will play a role, too. If Bush wants to put an ultraconservative on the high court, his nominee would have to weather a confirmation brawl in the Senate. Analysts say that with approval ratings the lowest of his presidency, Bush may not be ready for that.
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