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