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Supreme Court nominee won’t lead to radical change, Evans says

JACKSON, Tenn.July 6, 2005 – Alberto Gonzalez is the likely pick of President Bush to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, according to Sean Evans, a political science professor at Union University.

“There’s two ways of looking at Bush,” Evans said. “He likes to reward loyalty and he likes to swing for the fence.”

“Swinging for the fence” would mean appointing a minority to the Supreme Court, such as a woman or a Latino.

“When you combine loyalty and swinging for the fence, you get the name Alberto Gonzalez,” Evans said. “Even though there has been a very big anti-Gonzalez campaign by the conservatives, Bush has already said this past week, ‘Lay off.’”

Evans thinks a Latino nominee would make sense for the Republicans because the Latino population in the United States is growing and isn’t tied to a particular political party. Nominating a Latino would help the Republicans woo votes from Latin Americans. And since Gonzalez, the U.S. Attorney General, is a close friend of the president who has shown a great deal of loyalty, “he would be a good choice from that perspective,” Evans said.

If Gonzalez is not the candidate, Evans said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Bush appoint a woman – such as Edith Jones or Edith Brown Clement.

“I would expect a minority of some sort,” he said.

Regardless, Evans doesn’t think the importance of Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat is as vital as some are making it out to be, and her replacement certainly won’t “imperil our rights,” as many liberal groups are suggesting.

“It doesn’t matter who Bush appoints because one person or justice cannot instigate a constitutional revolution and our system of government is not designed to promote radical change,” Evans said. “Even assuming that Bush appoints a very conservative justice, it still will not transform the court because the justices need to build a coalition of five justices with conflicting legal views.”

Evans said the two most controversial issues on which the court may have to rule are homosexual and abortion rights. Since O’Connor is part of a six-judge majority for these rights on the court, “replacing her with a conservative still keeps a five-person majority for those rights,” he said.

“Those rights will not be in jeopardy until one of the liberals like John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsberg retire because of age or health and are replaced by a conservative,” Evans said.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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