Illness, GOP Gains May Prompt Rehnquist Retirement


President Bush’s re-election as Chief Justice William Rehnquist is being treated for what could be a serious form of thyroid cancer means that a Supreme Court vacancy could occur soon. The Associated Press says GOP gains in the Senate — Republicans will hold a 55-seat majority — help make it easier for Rehnquist to leave. Douglas Kmiec, a Pepperdine University law professor and legal adviser in the Reagan and first Bush administrations, believes Rehnquist “welcomes the idea that he will be able to leave the court at a time when his own political party is in the White House and when the balance in the Senate is more likely to confirm a nominee closer to his own legacy.”

Kmiec said Rehnquist’s family — the widower has three children — and other close friends such as his regular poker buddies will likely encourage him to think of himself. “They will say he no longer has to be concerned about the political calculus,” Kmiec said. “The people have resolved that for him.”


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