Fifteen years ago in WORLD magazine . . .
The first year of the Bush administration is moving toward its end without providing an answer to a crucial question: What might Americans expect of George Bush in terms of future nominees to the Supreme Court? . . . The Bush nominees will join a court that was reshaped dramatically during Ronald Reagan's eight years as president. The most liberal members of the court-Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun-all are over 80 years old. . . . The conservative wing of the court, meanwhile, comprises its youngest members: Chief Justice William Rehnquist is 64, Sandra O'Connor is 58, and both Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are 52. More importantly, perhaps, their energy and rigorous intellect have begun to dominate the debate and direction of the court. . . . Yet the answer is difficult, because even after eight years as loyal vice president to the most conservative president since Calvin Coolidge, George Bush's commitment to some conservative principles remains suspect. It is instructive to recall that "moderate" Republican presidents provided much of the current liberal wing of the court: Dwight Eisenhower nominated Brennan, Richard Nixon nominated Blackmun, and Gerald Ford nominated John Paul Stevens. Whoever President Bush selects . . . will face a Senate even more hostile than before the 1988 elections. The Kennedy-Biden-Metzenbaum triumvirate that defeated Robert Bork recognizes that the court's philosophy has shifted away from liberal judicial activism. They have dropped all pretense of bipartisan cooperation and will resist any nominees who oppose expansion of the liberal agenda. . . .