President Bush Considering Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court Chief Justice

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 8, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Considering Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court Chief Justice

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 8, 2004

Washington, DC ( — President Bush is reportedly considering pro-life Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for the chief justice position should the ailing William Rehnquist step down from the court.

According to a story on the Drudge Report web site, Bush has launched an internal review weighing the pros and cons of nominating Thomas to the top position on the nation’s highest court.

A leading White House source told the Drudge Report that Thomas is Bush’s personal favorite pick to be elevated to the Chief Justice position, but that the idea is one of several under consideration.

"It would not only be historic, to nominate a minority as chief justice, symbolizing the president’s strong belief in hope and optimism, but it would be a sound judicial move," the White House source said. "Justice Thomas simply has an extraordinary record."

One concern the Bush administration has is the potential fight over the Thomas nomination.

Moving Thomas up to the Chief Justice position would subject him to a new confirmation process in the Senate. That could expose Thomas to attacks on his record, including his pro-life views.

It could also open up the possibility of bringing back one of the most infamous names associated with Supreme Court confirmations — Anita Hill.

According to the White House source, the Bush administration believes it is possible that Rehnquist, who is being treated for cancer, could step down from the court as early as the end of this year.

A biography of Thomas released in August indicated that he has previously been interviewed by White House attorneys as a possible chief justice candidate.

Last week, Rehnquist said he was unable to return to the Supreme Court after being hospitalized for thyroid cancer. Justice Rehnquist was treated for the disease at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Rehnquist, who is pro-life and was one of the two dissenters in the Roe v. Wade case that allowed abortions, said he would continue working at home until doctors cleared him to return to the high court.

"According to my doctors, my plan to return to the office today was too optimistic," he said in a statement. "While at home, I am working on court matters, including opinions for cases already argued. I am, and will, continue to be in close contact with my colleagues, my law clerks, and members of the Supreme Court staff."

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