There'll be plenty of time to discuss the ramifications of this, but I thought I'd just mention, in case you haven't seen it, that Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died last night. As The New York Times reports:
WASHINGTON, Sunday, Sept. 4 - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday night of the thyroid cancer he had battled for nearly a year, opening a second Supreme Court vacancy just days before Senate confirmation hearings were to begin to fill the seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Kathleen Arburg, the court's public information officer, said Chief Justice Rehnquist, 80, had died at his home in Arlington, Va., surrounded by his three children. She said he had been working at the court during the summer recess until his health declined a "precipitous decline" in the last few days.
Politically, in a sense this isn't as big a deal as O'Connor's resignation, because Rehnquist was really never a swing vote. On the other hand, the President has shown a knack for choosing people for top jobs who are even worse than I had imagined they could be. So I'm understandably nervous concerning who we might see nominated. I don't expect it to happen, but it would be an interesting state of affairs if O'Connor were to make it known she'd be prepared to stay on as Chief, were it to be offered to her.