As I understand it, if W. Rehnquist does retire / expire, G.W. can nominate someone not presently on the SCOUS (is that the correct abbreviation here?) to be Chief Justice. In fairness, it seems wise to nominate someone already on the court. I hear that Scalia might be a choice (shudders all around, I’m sure), and even Clarence Thomas (although I also understand that he doesn’t want it).
What is the precedent for going outside the court? I don’t even remember if Rehnquist was an outside choice. Does congress have to approve the Chief Justice nomination, or just the nomination of a new person to the court? I.e., if G.W. nominates Thomas for Chief Justice, am I going to have to hear about pubes on coke cans all over again, or is the President’s nomination enough since he is already on the court?