Possible Supreme Court Nominees

The Washington Post
Friday, October 28, 2005 10:25 AM

Below are profiles of individuals often mentioned as persons President Bush might nominate for the Supreme Court. This list first ran in The Post on Sept. 5, 2005. An updated list ran on Oct. 28 after Miers withdrew her nomination.

Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Samuel A. Alito Jr., 55, is a jurist in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia. Nicknamed "Scalito," or "little Scalia," by some lawyers, the federal appeals court judge is a frequent dissenter with a reputation for having one of the sharpest conservative minds in the country.

Educated at Princeton University and Yale Law School, Alito was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in 1990. He had worked for the Justice Department in the Reagan administration and served as U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey.

In 1991, he was the lone dissenter in a 3rd Circuit decision striking down a Pennsylvania law's requirement that women tell their husbands before having an abortion. Alito also wrote a 1997 ruling that Jersey City officials did not violate the Constitution with a holiday display that included a creche, a menorah and secular symbols of the Christmas season.

Three years ago Alito drew conflict-of-interest accusations after he upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against the Vanguard Group. Alito had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested with the mutual fund company at the time. He denied doing anything improper but recused himself from further involvement in the case.

-- Christopher Lee

Edith Brown Clement

President Bush interviewed Edith Brown Clement at the White House in July, and for several hours the media focused on her as a likely nominee before the president named John G. Roberts Jr. to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Clement, 57, sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, and is based in New Orleans. She rode out Hurricane Katrina at the home of a colleague, Judge E. Grady Jolly, in Jackson, Miss.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Clement to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1991, and she was elevated to her current post in 2001.

Before becoming a judge, she had a private law practice for 16 years in New Orleans, specializing in maritime law and representing oil companies, insurance firms and the marine services industry. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Tulane University Law School.

She is a member of the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal organization. Lawyers who know Clement describe her as a judicial conservative who leans toward the defense in civil cases, and as a no-nonsense judge who is strict about deadlines and insists on professionalism from lawyers.

-- Alan Cooperman

Emilio M. Garza

Emilio M. Garza, 58, would be the first Hispanic nominated to the high court.

The former Marine captain earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Notre Dame and graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. He practiced in his native San Antonio for 11 years and served as a state judge for a year before President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the U.S. District Court for the Western District in 1988. Three years later, President George H.W. Bush elevated him to the 5th Circuit.

In 1997, Garza sided with the majority in striking down parts of a Louisiana law requiring parents to be notified when a minor seeks an abortion. In his concurring opinion, he expressed doubts about the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. "[I]n the absence of governing constitutional text, I believe that ontological issues such as abortion are more properly decided in the political and legislative arenas," Garza wrote. ". . . [I]t is unclear to me that the Court itself still believes that abortion is a 'fundamental right' under the Fourteenth Amendment."

That opinion, combined with what one expert said was an undistinguished record, could make his nomination a tough sell. "It's just hard for me to see that he could get confirmed," said Arthur D. Hellman, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

-- Christopher Lee

Alberto R. Gonzales

Although Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has less time on the bench than other Supreme Court candidates, he has a crucial advantage: the friendship of President Bush.

When conservative groups criticized Gonzales in July, Bush said: "I don't like it at all." What the president does like, according to advisers, is the idea of naming the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court.

But Gonzales could face opposition from both ends of the political spectrum: those on the left who disapprove of the terrorism policies he helped craft after Sept. 11, 2001, and those on the right who view him as insufficiently opposed to abortion.

Gonzales, 50, grew up as the son of impoverished Mexican immigrants and went on to Harvard Law School. Bush, as governor of Texas, hired him as his general counsel and later appointed him to the Texas Supreme Court. Bush made Gonzales his White House counsel in 2001.

The Senate confirmed Gonzales as attorney general in February.

Yet, the strongest antipathy to Gonzales comes from the right. In 2000, Gonzales sided with a majority of the Texas high court in allowing a 17-year-old to obtain an abortion without notifying her parents. Gonzales also testified at his confirmation hearing that he recognized the Roe v. Wade decision as "the law of the land."

-- Alan Cooperman

Edith Hollan Jones

Edith Hollan Jones, 56, a one-time Texas attorney who specialized in real estate, bankruptcy and oil, has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, and is widely considered to be one of the most ardent and vocal conservatives among the candidates.

Jones first surfaced as a high court prospect in 1990, when she turned up on a short list considered by then-President George H.W. Bush. But the elder Bush eventually appointed David Souter to a seat left vacant by the death of Justice William J. Brennan Jr.

She was appointed an appellate court judge by President Ronald Reagan and has written several circuit opinions that have been reversed by the Supreme Court, including one earlier this year involving a death penalty case.

A native of Philadelphia, Jones received a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University and a law degree from the University of Texas. She once served as the general counsel of the Texas Republican Party and was an attorney for 11 years in Houston before being appointed to the 5th Circuit.

A strong foe of abortion, Jones has called the Supreme Court's reasoning in Roe v. Wade an "exercise of raw judicial power.'' In a 2004 case, she argued that a rare insect could not be protected by the Endangered Species Act because such a move would exceed Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce.

-- Eric Pianin

J. Michael Luttig

J. Michael Luttig, 51, has a conservative legal pedigree that includes clerkships for Judge Antonin Scalia, now a Supreme Court justice, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1982-83 and for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in 1983-84.

A graduate of Washington and Lee University and the University of Virginia law school, Luttig served in the Justice Department during the first Bush administration, where he helped Justices Clarence Thomas and David H. Souter win Senate confirmation. President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in 1991, when Luttig was 37.

Despite his reputation as a staunch conservative, in 2002 Luttig became the first federal appellate judge to rule that inmates have a constitutional right to post-conviction DNA testing to try to prove their innocence, calling it "a matter of basic fairness." In 1999, he granted protection to a female college football kicker under the federal law, known as Title IX, that bans sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs.

He has sometimes clashed with other members of the 4th Circuit, including fellow conservative J. Harvie Wilkinson III. In 2003, Luttig wrote a dissenting opinion that supported the Bush administration's position that it could designate and detain "enemy combatants" with little judicial scrutiny.

-- Charles Lane

Michael W. McConnell

Michael W. McConnell, a judge on the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, is a favorite of religious and social conservatives. He sees government aid to religious schools as constitutional and supports the rights of student prayer clubs.

McConnell, a University of Chicago Law School graduate, has argued in favor of allowing the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gays, and he once wrote that the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling was "an embarrassment to those who take constitutional law seriously" -- but later softened that stand.

The mild-mannered judge from Utah, who skis and hikes, has drawn strong criticism from Democrats for his views. But his defenders say he is not an ideologue and that his stances are nuanced and not easy to pigeonhole.

During his appellate court confirmation hearing in 2002, he told senators that a constitutional amendment banning abortion "is not going to happen." He opposes a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning and is against mandatory school prayer. McConnell also criticized the reasoning behind the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision that handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush.

McConnell, 50, was born in Louisville. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and held positions as a government lawyer and law professor before Bush nominated him to the court of appeals in September 2001.

-- Eric Pianin

Larry Thompson

Larry Thompson, who was second in command at the Justice Department under former Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, has broad experience in law enforcement but never served as a judge and never produced a paper trail of scholarly articles or opinions.

If chosen by Bush and confirmed by the Senate, Thompson, 59, the son of a railroad laborer from Hannibal, Mo., would be the second black justice on the high court, alongside his longtime friend, Justice Clarence Thomas.

As a government lawyer, Thompson worked on anti-terrorism policies and cracking down on corporate crime. The conservative Republican is vice president and general counsel for PepsiCo. But President Bush hinted last April that he had future plans for Thompson when he declared at an event in Buffalo that "Larry, we miss you. . . . Don't get too comfortable."

A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Thompson spent 16 years as a white-collar defense attorney and law instructor before joining the Justice Department. From 1982 to 1986, he served as U.S. attorney for the northern District of Georgia and led the Southeastern Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

He later joined one of Atlanta's most prestigious law firms, King & Spalding, and represented Thomas in 1991 during his bitter Supreme Court confirmation battle.

-- Eric Pianin

J. Harvie Wilkinson III

J. Harvie Wilkinson III, 60, reminds many lawyers of his mentor, the late Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. He has spent more than 20 years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, where he is known for his courteous manner and self-described "humane" conservativism.

The son of a wealthy Richmond banker, Wilkinson went to Yale and the University of Virginia School of Law. He served in the Army, ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for Congress in 1970 and clerked for Powell, a family friend, in 1972-73.

But unlike most candidates for the Supreme Court, Wilkinson -- known as "Jay," from his first initial -- never practiced law in the private sector. He taught at Virginia's law school for five years and was editorial page editor of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk from 1978 to 1981. After serving in the Justice Department's civil rights division, he was appointed to the 4th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Wilkinson's rulings include a 1987 opinion striking down a minority set-aside program for city contractors in Richmond and a 1996 decision upholding the "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the military. In a string of national security cases since Sept. 11, 2001, he has urged judicial deference to the executive branch in times of war.

-- Alan Cooperman

Other possible Supreme Court nominees (Associated Press)

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