Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about the healthcare reform bill that will be signed into law in the coming days. A more interesting question, and one more relevant to this blog, is what effect its passage might have on a potential Supreme Court vacancy this summer.

Because of his victory yesterday, the President is as popular as ever within his party but has seen his numbers sink with the general population. Yesterday’s vote saw the President finally shed his veneer of bipartisanship and all signs point to the fact that he’d rather make his next move an uncontroversial one. The nomination of Judge Wood or even a dark horse like Kathleen Sullivan would further inflame a Republican base that will soon be raising support (read: $$$) on the President’s healthcare bill. The nomination of Elena Kagan would be a comparatively uncontroversial nomination because she doesn’t have the same paper trail that most politicians or judges have accumulated.

Liberals in his party hope that the President feels liberated by the healthcare vote. In their view, the President no longer needs the capital that he was saving for the healthcare vote and can now make the ambitious ‘Scalia-like’ nomination that they were clamoring for last year. Even in Washington, where the next election start as soon as the previous one ends, a nomination in the summer of 2010 is a long way from the November 2012 election.

Of course, this administration has always been nervous about courting controversy. The President is likely to see the immediate post-HCR period as a time for reconciliation and he’d certainly prefer a vacancy next summer instead of in his weakened position today. The President would have a tough time recovering from HCR and a controversial nomination four months later. Whatever his decision, passage of the healthcare bill yesterday is likely to have a very real effect on the President’s decision.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories

Random Posts

  • An Interview with Michael Dreeben: Michael Dreeben, a Deputy Solicitor General, spent the last semester on leave to teach at Duke University Law School. During his time there,...
  • New Opinions and Updated Statistics: The Supreme Court released three new opinions today and dismissed one hotly-anticipated case as improvidently granted. Graham v. Florida-...
  • Belated Decade Advocate Scorecard: For one reason or another, it looks like I forgot to post my updated advocate scorecard for the decade at the end of the last term. Origin...
  • Rate of 5-4 Majority Opinion Authorship: As a general matter, the Justices that tend to carry the greatest ideological authority on the Supreme Court should be the ones authoring th...
  • PDF Packs for the Past Decade: I've been pillaging the Supreme Court's website in search of PDFs that I can archive for future reference. Using the Court's website and the...