Great analysis at Political Arithmetik shows that Kennedy will replace O’Connor as the median vote on the court and that means not much net change (under the assumption of a single dimension of voting).
Further, Charles notes that if Alito is “Scalita” and even if Roberts is to the right of Rehnquist, the result will be that Kennedy is closer to the left block of the court than to the right. He goes on:
a stronger conservative wing of the court could drive the swing vote to the left. The conservative Justices will have to make sure this doesn’t happen, and in doing so will have to moderate their views enough to win Kennedy’s support. The liberals will similarly have to moderate their views to win Kennedy over to their side.
In other words, and as Charles also notes, no matter how big the fight turns out to be over Alito, just wait till the day when Bush gets to nominate a replacement for one of the aging liberals on the Court. There is still plenty of time for that.
And don’t miss Rudolfo Espino’s further analysis.