When you write about things political in Washington you pick up every rumor imaginable. Most of them are bogus, initiated by someone who has an axe to grind. I recall vividly being in the office of Senator James Danforth (“Dan”) Quayle (R-IN) within a few months of Republicans’ having taken control of the Senate for the first time since President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first term. Quayle was on the phone with his wife, Marilyn, who had picked up rumors of a huge sex scandal which supposedly was going to bring down the Republican Majority. Quayle was making light of the situation. Mrs. Quayle would have none of it.
While it shook up the newly minted Senate Majority, with some news outlets going so far as to print pictures of twelve Senators supposedly involved, it turned out to be nothing. A few Senators were at a golf outing where there were a few attractive ladies. There never were credible allegations about what supposedly happened at this outing. Quayle was assuring his wife that he had no female companion on that outing. The whole thing was born of rumors. The rumors persisted for a few weeks and then when nothing came of the whole business, even the news media, which had no use for the Republican Majority, quietly had to drop the whole business.
That is what is likely to happen with another rumor which absolutely has swept the Nation’s Capitol since the swearing-in of Justice Samuel J. Alito, Jr. as the 116th Associate Justice. That rumor is that President George W. Bush will have another vacancy on the Supreme Court when the term ends this coming June.
One Senator claims he has specific knowledge that the vacancy is coming. The speculation revolves around 85-year-old Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens, as the rumor is embellished, supposedly let it be known that he is impressed with the caliber of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., as well as with that of Associate Justice Alito. Stevens supposedly told the White House that even though he is a Rockefeller Republican (he was President Gerald R. Ford’s only Court appointee during the period when Nelson A. Rockefeller was Vice President) he believes the Court would not move radically to the right should he depart.