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