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Aides ready for Rehnquist exit;
CNN, press corps skeptical


Expectation dims after Bush touches down

Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist's resignation is imminent--and he may have already issued his resignation to President Bush, senior aides say, but most no longer believe the resignation will be announced Friday.

RAW STORY has learned that senior reporters at CNN believe such reports are bogus, saying they feel that conservative columnist Robert Novak--who first floated such reports--is flat wrong. A Time Magazine reporter dispatched an email across the city at 4:30, asserting the White House has rescheduled Monday meetings for Tuesday to accommodate a retirement announcement Monday, though others on the Hill say the meetings were rescheduled earlier this week.


Reporters are now camped outside the Supreme Court, awaiting word. An Associated Press reporter and other journalists camped outside Rehnquist's home for three hours this morning, but the justice only smiled and walked past.

Aides throughout Washington believed Rehnquist's resignation might be effective once President Bush arrived in Washington this evening. But as Bush landed at Andrews Air Force Base, expectation dimmed that any announcement would be made Friday.

Hill aides have prepared statements, and are ready with contingency plans if the retirement is announced.

Conservative columnist Robert Novak said Friday afternoon he expected the justice to quit once President Bush landed in Washington Friday evening. This did not occur.

Novak was the first to float suggestions Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor would resign. She did.

Democrats and Republicans have long been preparing for exit of the ailing Chief Justice.

His farewell would escalate a fight over judicial nominees, increasing the number of open seats to two, falling just days after the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Novak first suggested Rehnquist's retirement Thursday. The veteran columnist, who has seen recent press attention in the case of an outed CIA agent, relies on a bevy of anonymous Republican sources.

Novak posited that Rehnquist's departure could allow President Bush to nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The veteran conservative pundit said he expected no change in the ideological balance of the court.

"Word from court sources that ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist also will announce his retirement before the week is over," Novak wrote today. "That would enable Bush to play this game: Name one justice no less conservative than Rehnquist, and name Gonzales, whose past record suggests he would replicate retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on abortion and possibly other social issues. Thus, the present ideological orientation of the court would be unchanged, which would suit the left just fine."

Senate Republican Judiciary aides told staffers late Thursday to be prepared for a possible resignation Friday between 10 and 11 am; that didn't occur, either.

Rehnquist has been suffering from thyroid cancer and was widely expected to resign when the court closed its term earlier this month.

Originally published on Friday July 8, 2005.


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