February 22, 2005
Chief Justice McConnell?
Posted by Gordon Smith

The NYT is reporting the speculation that Mike McConnell will be nominated to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist, when the time comes. This looks to me like a trial balloon, and other judges' names are also being floated: John Roberts, Harvie Wilkinson, Michael Luttig, and Samuel Alito. Orin Kerr rightly observes, "There isn't a dud in the group." He favors Roberts, but I am partial to McConnell, without question my favorite professor at Chicago.

At the end of my third year of law school, I sat with three of my classmates in the law review offices, and someone asked, "What was your favorite class in law school?" We each named our choice by the course title. Four different courses. It took us a moment to realize that all four had been taught by Mike McConnell! He was not the most dynamic teacher, but he made us think more deeply and care more passionately about law than any other professor.

According to the NYT story, "One outside adviser suggested that Judge McConnell had risen in the White House's handicapping because, among other things, he had been supported in his nomination to the appeals court by dozens of liberal law professors." I signed that petition, and while I admit that I am not a huge consumer of federal appellate court opinions (or U.S. Supreme Court opinions either, for that matter -- I'll take the Delaware Supreme Court, thanks!), I have profound respect for Mike McConnell and would be thrilled to see him nominated, though I suspect that the confirmation would be nasty, nasty, nasty because he is firmly opposed to legalized abortion.

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