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Possible Successors to Chief Justice Rehnquist

As the Supreme Court ended another session, the question many Washington watchers asked was whether ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist would step down -- and if so, who would replace him. The surprise retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor added to President Bush's options.

The president's dilemma is whether to elevate a currently sitting justice. Historically, such appointments are rare. Of the 16 chief justices in American history, only five previously served as associate justices.

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Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.