Just tonight, I picked up a close-out copy of William Rehnquist's history of the Supreme Court. As has already been pointed out by several commentators, the Chief Justice's passing during the watch of a Republican President is not likely to tip the balance on the Court.
But, if possible, it is apt to heighten the intensity of the confirmation battle over John Roberts' nomination for the Associate Justice position formerly held by Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor was seen as a "swing vote" on the Court.
Rehnquist loved the Court and played an historic role in reversing some of the trends advanced by the Earl Warren era which had preceded the tenure of Rehnquist's immediate predecessor, Warren Berger.