Sep 052005
Authors: Vimal Patel

Members of campus Democratic and Republican groups agreed that whomever President Bush nominates to fill two vacant Supreme Court seats should be "middle of the road" and have an aversion to judicial activism.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist died on Saturday and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor – the court's "swing vote" – retired in July, though she has offered to stay on the bench until a replacement is chosen. The vacancies leave the court two seats short for the first time since 1971.

Tim Waddingham, vice president of CSU Young Democrats, said he wants "someone who's not going to overturn laws that are already made … like Roe vs. Wade."

He said that the court, before O'Connor's retirement, was an ideologically-balanced court, but doubts it will remain so.

"Bush will probably try to appoint two conservatives," he said. "(The court's) going to be more conservative, which I'm not happy about."

On Monday Bush nominated conservative John Roberts to be chief justice. He hasn't decided who to nominate to fill O'Connor's vacancy.

Dustin Harper , president of the CSU College Republicans, said he's pleased that Roberts is a "strict interpreter of the Constitution."

"I think it will be a relatively smooth process," he said of Roberts' confirmation hearings. "I haven't heard any major arguments against Roberts. … I don't think there will be a major fight over (either appointment)."

Harper spoke admiringly of Rehnquist's legacy.

"He did a great job," Harper said. "He helped decide a number of important decisions."

One of the most crucial, he said, was the 5-4 vote that brought the 2000 Florida recount to a close, effectively handing the presidency to Bush.

While acknowledging the decision was despised by many, Harper said "it was probably in the best interest (of the country) that it wasn't dragged out."

Political science professor John Straayer said Rehnquist's legacy will primarily be one of strengthening federalism.

"The expansion of (Congressional) power has been going on since the 30s," he said. "The Rehnquist court helped stop that."

Ultimately, he said, Rehnquist will be remembered as a "conservative advocate of states rights."

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