Chief Justice William Rehnquist has passed on. God bless his family in their time of grief.
After battling cancer for the better part of the past year, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search) died late Saturday evening, bringing to an end his lengthy time on the bench and opening another vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Rehnquist, 80, was surrounded by his three children when he died at his home in suburban Arlington.
"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his duties on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," said court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.
Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court (search) as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1972. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986.
His death ends a career during which Rehnquist oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election.
The death leaves President Bush with his second court opening within four months and sets up what's expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.
Now it's time for George W. Bush to make or break his legacy.
Under the rarest of circumstances, 2 Supreme Court seats for up for grabs at the same time. I'm not into poll watching, but we all know that the President's ratings have been on a steady decline for awhile now. There is a war going on in Iraq that not too many people are a fan of. A war that at times even has me questioning its strategy and rationale. The greatest national disaster to take place on U.S. soil has America reeling to the point that an idiot like Kanye West can get away with claiming that the President doesn't care about Blacks, when he's really just using a national tragedy to help sell his new record. Leftists everywhere are clamoring to take away what's left of Bush's political capital and make him out to be no more then a lame duck commander-in-chief.
But George W. Bush can stand up to the face of increasing criticism and fiery propaganda by nominating a justice that fulfills the legacy left by William Rehnquist: a proud and hardcore conservative who played fair by becoming one of the most rigid interpreters of the Constitution. George W. Bush can take a stand by refusing to wilt under the firestorm Democrats and the Left will surely throw at him no matter who he picks. George W. Bush can make conservatives proud by picking a man or woman with integrity and a conscious that doesn't allow him/her to legislate from the bench.
This will be the most important decision of George W. Bush's life.