Bush has nominated Roberts to be Chief Justice. It also appears that Roberts is now slated to replace Rehnquist and O’Connor will stay on the court until another replacement is found and confirmed. So, Roberts is now filling Rehnquist’s shoes instead of O’Connor’s. This changes the dynamics.
It should raise the stakes and scrutiny of Roberts’s nomination. But it also gives Bush a second opportunity to choose a woman and a more centrist judge to fill O’Connor’s position on the court.
If Roberts is not confirmed before the Court convenes then Justice John Paul Stevens will take over the duties of acting Chief Justice. Stevens is considered the most liberal judge on the Court.