Article III Groupie's heart is beating so loudly she can hear it. She just read the screaming headline: "Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Resigns." WOW!
Even though most people picked Chief Justice Rehnquist as the most likely retirement prospect, Justice O'Connor's departure from the Supreme Court is not a total surprise. Let's give credit where credit is due: last month, Bill Kristol offered his "well-informed speculation" that Justice O'Connor might be resigning soon. Also, as Professor Orin Kerr noted over at the Volokh Conspiracy, SOC's "apparent failure to hire a fourth law clerk for the new Term" could have been taken as a sign of her imminent departure.
Well, it was only a matter of time before Justice O'Connor retired. Rumor had it that she wanted to step down from the Court a few years ago. But after she was overheard (see item #3) "expressing her dismay over Gore's apprent victory" at an election night party in 2000, and after the Supreme Court had to resolve the contested presidential election in Bush v. Gore, it would have looked bad for SOC to retire shortly after helping to put a Republican president in office. And so she postponed her resignation until 2005, after an intervening presidential election with a clear victor.
What will happen to Ben Horwich, Amy Kapczynski, and Sasha Volokh, who were selected by Justice O'Connor as her October Term 2005 clerks? Sometimes clerks of a retiring justice are hired by one of the remaining justices (see item #4). But in this case, as reported in loving detail in these pages, the eight other justices have already hired all of their clerks for next Term. Here's a suggestion for Ben, Amy, and Sasha: Beg Chief Justice Rehnquist to break with his tradition of hiring only three law clerks! (The Chief is authorized to have up to five law clerks.)
A3G wishes the displaced SOC clerks the best of luck in landing replacement gigs at One First Street. It might be tough for them to get jobs with Justice O'Connor's successor; new justices tend to hire (1) people with whom they've worked before or (2) people with prior experience clerking at the Court. But Ben, Amy, and Sasha may have better luck in scoring OT 2006 clerkships.
And now, get ready for the Mother of All Nomination Battles...