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