Edith Hollan Jones, 56, has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans since 1985, having been nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

Jones was born in Philadelphia. She graduated from Cornell University in 1971 and from the University of Texas Law School in 1974. She was in private practice in Houston for 11 years and specialized in bankruptcy law.

Known as a strong and outspoken conservative, she has written opinions that called into question the reasoning behind the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, has been an advocate for speeding up death penalty executions, and is a vocal proponent of "moral values." She also wrote a 1997 opinion throwing out a federal ban on the possession of machine guns and has been an advocate for toughening bankruptcy laws.

In a recent interview with the American Enterprise Institute, she bemoaned the Senate treatment of several controversial appeals court nominees. "Nominees are accused very unfairly of things that they didn't do," she said. "For someone like Judge [Charles W.] Pickering to be called a racist is a vile lie. For someone like Judge [William] Pryor to be attacked on the basis that he is a Catholic and therefore cannot judge cases fairly strikes at the heart of the notion of religious tolerance in our society. And the character assassination of Priscilla Owen reached unconscionable bounds."

-- Marc Kaufman