White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. yesterday consulted key Senate Republicans about filling the Supreme Court vacancy as the administration attempted to narrow the list of possible candidates in anticipation of a nomination this week.
Administration sources said Anthony M. Kennedy, a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento, and 2nd Circuit Judge Ralph K. Winter Jr. of New Haven are leading candidates, along with Judges Laurence H. Silberman and Douglas H. Ginsburg of the District of Columbia Circuit, and J. Clifford Wallace of the 9th Circuit in San Diego.
Baker met for about 30 minutes with Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho), chairman of the Republican Steering Committee, and three members of the Judiciary Committee, Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), to review a list of 13 candidates. Thurmond, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said that there were objections to five or six individuals on the list, including problems about whether they could be confirmed by the Senate.
Hatch, who noted that all those on the list are judges, said three to five names will be presented to President Reagan midweek and that a new nominee will probably be announced Thursday.
"The next nominee will be confirmed," Thurmond said before the meeting. "He will be conservative but not controversial."
Baker plans to meet today with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) to discuss a nominee to fill the seat left vacant in June by the retirement of Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. The Senate, in a 58-to-42 vote Friday, rejected federal appeals court Judge Robert H. Bork, Reagan's original choice, after a 3 1/2-month confirmation battle.
Sources said the administration is seeking a candidate who generally shares Bork's philosophy of judicial restraint but would not provoke a second fierce confirmation fight.
Kennedy, 51, has been a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 1975. He is known to the Californians who are close advisers to the president, including Attorney General Edwin Meese III, and helped then-Gov. Reagan draft a tax-reduction proposal, Proposition 1, that was defeated in 1973. Reagan and Meese backed Kennedy when President Gerald R. Ford nominated him for the appeals court two years later.
On the bench, Kennedy is best known for his decision, later upheld by the Supreme Court, that the legislative veto is unconstitutional. He also overturned a controversial lower-court ruling finding that female workers in Washington state were entitled to be paid based on the "comparable worth" of their positions.
Winter, 52, who is viewed as more conservative than Kennedy, is a former Yale Law School colleague and close friend of Bork.
In his confirmation hearings after being named to the court in 1982, Winter criticized the attitude that, when there is not legislation dealing directly with a problem, "and there is nothing specifically in the Constitution about it, courts are free to decide what the Constitution ought to say about that." Winter called that view "an unconstitutional performance of the judicial function."
However, some of Winter's writings on civil rights and equal protection would likely raise questions from civil rights groups.
Silberman, 52, is a former deputy attorney general, undersecretary of labor and ambassador to Yugoslavia. He has a blunt-spoken, no-nonsense style that could raise concerns about his judicial temperament.
A long-simmering squabble among conservative and liberal factions on the appeals court here erupted into public view in July when Silberman switched his vote in favor of having the full court hear several cases and voted with the liberals not to review them.
Ginsburg, 41, is a former Harvard Law School professor who headed the Justice Department's Antitrust Division before being named to the appeals court last October.
Wallace, 58, who has often been mentioned as a possible Supreme Court candidate, was named to the federal trial court by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970 and elevated to the appeals court two years later. A devout Mormon, Wallace has made statements on church-state issues that would likely generate controversy among liberals.
Pasco M. Bowman II, who is on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Kansas City, was said to have been seriously considered for the nomination at one point, but sources said he no longer is among the leading contenders. THE NEW NOMINEE?
PASCO M. BOWMAN II Born: Harrisonburg, Va., Dec. 20, 1933 Education: BA, Bridgewater College, 1955; JD, New York University School of Law, 1958 Position: Judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appointed to a term beginning Aug. 1, 1983
DOUGLAS H. GINSBURG Born: Chicago, May 25, 1946 Education: BS, Cornell University, 1970; JD, University of Chicago, 1973 Professional: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, appointed to a term beginning Oct. 14, 1986
ANTHONY M. KENNEDY Born: Sacramento, July 23, 1936 Education: BA, Stanford University, 1958; LLB, Harvard University, 1961 Professional: Judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appointed to a term beginning May 30, 1975
LAURENCE H. SILBERMAN Born: York, Pa., Oct. 12, 1935 Education: BA, Dartmouth, 1957; LLB, Harvard University, 1961 Professional: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, appointed to a term beginning Nov. 1, 1985
J. CLIFFORD WALLACE Born: San Diego, Dec. 11, 1928 Education: BA, San Diego State University, 1952; LLB, University of California at Berkeley, 1955 Professional: Judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appointed to a term beginning July 14, 1972
RALPH K. WINTER JR. Born: Waterbury, Conn., July 30, 1935 Education: BA, Yale University, 1957; LLB 1960 Professional: Judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, appointed to a term beginning Jan. 5, 1982