The appointment of one new justice to the US Supreme Court can transform America’s high court for years but the appointment of two new justices can change the nation for generations.
Now, unexpectedly, America faces the prospect of just such a rare double vacancy. Just as the US Senate was preparing to debate the confirmation of one new Supreme Court justice, Judge John Roberts, to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the weekend brought news of the sudden death of William Rehnquist, the chief justice.
In a mere two months, the court has lost the two justices who probably did the most to shape its rulings over the past couple of decades – crucial years, when the court firmly entrenched abortion across the country, championed gay rights and affirmative action and even reined in the death penalty. With both of them gone, President George W. Bush has an extraordinary opportunity to remake the court and with it the nation in his own political image, Financial Times reports.