Whom Will Bush Name to the Supreme Court?

With Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist suffering from thyroid cancer, many in Washington, D.C., are speculating about whom President Bush might name to the Supreme Court.

When Bush nominated White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales as attorney general that seemed to eliminate him from the short list for an initial vacancy. But here are 10 other candidates believed to be potential nominees.

Samuel Alito, Jr.

  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit
  • Born: April 1, 1950, Trenton, N.J.
  • Education: Princeton, B.A., 1972; Yale Law School, J.D., 1975
  • Career: Was assistant solicitor general in Reagan Justice Department and U.S. attorney for New Jersey under the senior President Bush. Nominated to the appeals court by the senior President Bush. Confirmed April 27, 1990.
  • Background: Nicknamed “Scalito” because of his similarity to Justice Scalia in ethnicity, intellect and judicial philosophy. Dissented when his court overturned Pennsylvania abortion restrictions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but then concurred in overturning New Jersey’s partial-birth abortion ban, citing Supreme Court’s precedent in Stenberg v. Carhart.

    Janice R. Brown

  • Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
  • Born: May 11, 1949, Greenville, Ala.
  • Education: Sacramento State, B.A., 1974; University of California Law School, J.D., 1977; University of Virginia Law School; L.L.M., 2004
  • Career: Served as legal affairs secretary to Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson, and as state appeals judge.
  • Background: Raised on a rented farm in segregated Alabama. Grew up to describe herself as a “true conservative.” Ruled in favor of anti-affirmative action California Prop 209, saying it defended “equality of individual opportunity.” Said after September 11, 2001: “By accepting the beguiling proposition that all perspectives are equal, we left Western civilization, the God of light and light itself, undefended.” Nominated by President Bush for D.C. appeals court, filibustered by Senate Democrats.

    Miguel Estrada

  • Lawyer, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Washington, D.C.
  • Born: Sept. 25, 1961, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Education: Columbia, A.B., 1983; Harvard Law School, J.D., 1986
  • Career: Clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy. Was assistant U.S. attorney in New York, and assistant solicitor general under senior President Bush and President Clinton.
  • Background: Nominated by President George W. Bush for federal appeals court, but was filibustered by Senate Democrats. Demeaned by liberals as a “right-wing ideologue” in the mold of Clarence Thomas, Estrada actually argued the National Organization for Women’s side for the Clinton Justice Department in a 1993 case using the RICO statute against abortion protestors. Because of Democratic filibuster, his reportedly conservative philosophy has never been tested on the bench.

    Emilio Garza

  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  • Born: Aug. 1, 1947, San Antonio, Tex.
  • Education: Notre Dame, B.A., 1969, M.A., 1970; University of Texas Law School, J.D., 1976
  • Career: Served as U.S. Marine officer. Worked as a defense lawyer in San Antonio, before becoming Texas state judge. Was appointed to federal judgeship by President Reagan in 1988, and elevated to appeals court by senior President Bush in 1991.
  • Background: Although ruling in 1992, in deference to Supreme Court precedent, to strike down a Louisiana law criminalizing abortion, he wrote, “Because the decision to permit or proscribe abortion is a political choice, I would allow the people of the state of Louisiana to decide this issue for themselves.” Suggested Roe v. Wade was flawed in a 1997 decision on Louisiana’s parental notification law.

    Edith Jones

  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  • Born: April 7, 1949, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Education: Cornell, B.A., 1971; University of Texas Law School, J.D., 1974
  • Career: Worked in private practice in Houston, Tex., 1974-1985. Nominated to the appeals court by President Reagan. Confirmed April 3, 1985.
  • Background: When the senior President Bush made his first Supreme Court nomination, the two finalists were Jones and David Souter. This September, Jones wrote a concurring opinion attacking Roe v. Wade. “The perverse result of the Court’s having determined through constitutional adjudication this fundamental social policy, which affects over a million women and unborn babies each year,” she wrote, “is that the facts no longer matter.”

    Jon Kyl

  • Republican U.S. Senator from Arizona
  • Born: April 25, 1942, Oakland, Neb.
  • Education: University of Arizona, B.A., 1964, L.L.B., 1966
  • Career: Practiced law with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix, and served on the local Chamber of Commerce. Was elected to U.S. House in 1986 and U.S. Senate in 1994.
  • Background: His lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 97% has made him a favorite of the conservative movement. Chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Was on President Bush’s vice presidential short list in 2000. Is an aggressive, well-informed participant in Judiciary Committee hearings. If nominated, Arizona’s Democrat governor, Janet Napolitano, would get to appoint his Senate successor until 2006 election.

    J. Michael Luttig

  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • Born: June 13, 1954, Tyler, Tex.
  • Education: Washington and Lee, B.A., 1976; University of Virginia Law School, J.D., 1981
  • Career: Assistant counsel to President Reagan. Clerked for then-Appellate Judge Scalia and Chief Justice Burger. Nominated by senior President Bush to Fourth Circuit appeals court. Confirmed July 26, 1991.
  • Background: Father was murdered in 1994. Luttig said then: “I think it is a tragedy when anyone has to receive a sentence of death from the state, but on the other hand, individuals must be held accountable at some point for actions such as this.” Ruled in favor of Virginia partial-birth abortion ban and parental notification law, and against Commerce Clause as justification for a provision of the Violence Against Women Act.

    Michael W. McConnell

  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
  • Born: May 18, 1955, Louisville, Ky.
  • Education: Michigan State, B.A., 1976; University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1979
  • Career: Clerked for liberal Justice William Brennan, 1980-81. Worked in Reagan OMB and Reagan Justice Department as assistant solicitor general. Was law professor at University of Chicago and University of Utah.
  • Background: Opposed impeachment of President Clinton. Opposed Supreme Court ruling in Bush v. Gore on Florida recount. Wrote in 1998 that “the reasoning of Roe v. Wade is an embarrassment to those who take constitutional law seriously,” but then told Senate Judiciary that Roe is “as settled as any issue in constitutional law.”

    Theodore B. Olson

  • Lawyer, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Washington, D.C.
  • Born: Sept. 11, 1940, Chicago
  • Education: University of the Pacific, B.A., 1962; University of California Law School, J.D., 1965
  • Career: Served as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel under President Reagan. Served as solicitor general for President George W. Bush until this July.
  • Background: Confirmed as solicitor general by a 51-to-47 vote in the Senate despite the objections of Democrats, who were angry over his success in arguing the Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore, which ended Al Gore’s quest of the presidency via endless Florida recounts. As solicitor general, won 20 of 25 cases before the Supreme Court.

    J. Harvie Wilkinson

  • Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • Born: Sept. 29, 1944, New York, N.Y.
  • Education: Yale, B.A., 1967; University of Virginia Law School, J.D., 1972
  • Career: Lost U.S. House race in 1970. Clerked for Justice Lewis Powell. Edited editorial page of Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. Served in civil rights division of Reagan Justice Department. Nominated to appeals court by Reagan. Confirmed August 13, 1984.
  • Background: Sometimes described as “moderate conservative.” Acolyte of pro-Roe Powell, yet backed Virginia parental notification law. Ruled that Commerce Clause justified Endangered Species Act protections of wolf. Wrote book against multiculturalism. Said: “We are discarding the melting pot for a cultural mosaic which aims not to promote the common bond of American citizenship but to accentuate the distinctiveness of racial and ethnic experience.”
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