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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Question of the Day: Associate vs. Chief

This is a daily feature I've been kicking around in my head for a little bit. It's especially useful these days since I don't have time to read lots of news coverage and figure things out for myself, so I'll just pose the questions that occur to me in the course of my cursory news intake here. Maybe someone smart and nice will answer in the comments, and without being too condescending either when I ask something really dumb.

With that introduction, here's today's question:

Does it matter at all that Bush has now nominated Roberts for chief justice, rather than associate justice? If so, why exactly?

I did read the Post editorial, which said:

In most respects, the change in position ought to signify little in terms of how senators regard Judge Roberts. The difference between the chief justice and the other members of the court, after all, is largely administrative, not substantive; all justices have only one vote.

I'm aware that back in the day, CJs like John Marshall and Earl Warren were adept at twisting the arms of the other justices to get outcomes they wanted, but I don't think much of that happened on the Rehnquist court.