SCOTUSblog has some First Thoughts on the Tactics of Nominating John Roberts for Chief:
The nomination of a doctrinaire conservative to replace the Chief Justice could have been explained as ideologically neutral for the Court, as the new nominee would not move that seat to the right. Moving Judge Roberts to the seat of Chief Justice, by contrast, opens up again the debate over what Democrats will describe as the “O’Connor” seat — that of a moderate conservative. There seems a marked difference, for example, in substituting Michael Luttig for Sandra Day O’Connor than for William Rehnquist.
The speed with which the President acted this morning suggests that Roberts was at the top of the White House’s list all along for the mistakenly anticipated resignation of the Chief Justice this summer. Recent developments — in which there has been some inevitable opposition but no serious threat to the confirmation has emerged — likely only solidified the President’s views of the matter. What is obviously unclear is to whom the President will turn for the slot of Associate Justice.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Does this mean that O’Connor will say through next June? Will Bush nominate someone more moderate for her seat? Or is Roberts the “moderate”? Most importantly, will the Senate be less deferential to a nomination to Chief than for an Associate nominee?
SCOTUSblog thinks they’ll delay the start of hearings to next Monday.