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Wednesday round-up

Following the weekend’s announcement that Justice Stevens plans to decide very soon whether he will retire this spring, speculation regarding possible replacements and the nature of the confirmation process continued.  At The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen assesses the politics of the anticipated confirmation battle, but notes that, regardless of whom President Obama nominates to replace Justice Stevens, the Court’s ideological structure will remain relatively unchanged; if and until the President has the opportunity to replace a traditionally conservative Justice, the Senate’s “uneasy peace” will hold.  Carl Jeffers, writing for the Huffington Post, also examines the possible political implications of Justice Stevens’s anticipated retirement, chiding Senator Arlen Specter for his recent comment that Justice Stevens should postpone his retirement for a year to avoid a filibuster over the confirmation of his replacement.  In a second Huffington Post piece, Daniel Cluchey discusses Senator Jon Kyl’s promise of a tough fight in the Senate.

At Fox News, Brit Hume predicts a swift confirmation for Justice Stevens’s replacement but notes that – unlike justices nominated by Democratic presidents – justices nominated by Republican presidents who have been confirmed have tended to become more liberal as they grew older.  Salon’s Gabriel Winant examines the presumed short-list of potential nominees, while The Hill reports on an interview in which Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (herself the subject of short-list speculation) expressed hope that Senate Republicans will not filibuster a nominee.  James Vicini at Reuters speculates that Justice Stevens’s retirement could lead to another tough battle in Congress, just as the Obama administration is wrapping up its fight over health care, and a second Reuters piece provides background on several potential nominees.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg, surveying the religious make-up of the current Court, reports that when Justice Stevens does retire, it is likely that, for the first time, there will be no Protestant Justices on the Court.  Although, as Totenberg points out, religion on the Court is a seldom-discussed topic, several experts have predicted that the emergence of a Court with no Protestant Justices might “raise eyebrows.”

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, speaking at New York Law School yesterday, speculated that many Supreme Court Justices – never enthusiastic to attend the President’s annual State of the Union address – will likely stop attending altogether after President Obama criticized one of the Court’s rulings during his address this year.  The Associated Press reports on Justice O’Connor’s remarks, noting that she also advocated for increased diversity on the Court.

Finally, at Slate, Professor Rick Hasen writes that proponents of corporate campaign-spending rights may now use the momentum gained from the Court’s January Citizens United ruling to lift certain restrictions requiring federal disclosure of corporate campaign contributions.