Nutty for Nino

“Antonin Scalia for chief justice. Seriously.” Nicholas Thompson, senior editor of Legal Affairs, argues in Slate that Scalia would not be a bad idea for the next chief justice. He argues that Scalia really isn’t half-bad on some issues; that the elevation to chief justice wouldn’t worsen his impact on the issues where he is a reactionary, e.g. a woman’s right to choose, because the chief justice’s job doesn’t mean that much anyway — while the chief justice has a slightly taller soapbox to preach from, he still only votes once; and because shrewd Democrats could horsetrade for his elevation and get an associate justice who is middle-of-the-road in return. Thompson’s central argument is that Scalia is smart and that his overarching ideology is “legal clarity.” The only attractive component of this argument, for me, is the idea of Democrats leveraging a moderate onto the court in return for Scalia’s promotion. But I have no confidence either in them pulling the weight to be able to pull it off, or in Bush and Co. letting it happen.