June 19, 2005


Possible Court Nominees Pose a Quandary for Bush: A Conservative Anchor vs. an Ethnic First (Peter Baker, June 19, 2005, Washington Post)

President Bush's advisers are focusing their search for a new Supreme Court justice on a trio of candidates who could present the president with a choice that would help shape his legacy -- pick a reliable conservative to anchor the court for decades or go for history by naming the first Hispanic chief justice at the risk of alienating his base. [...]

Bush and his inner circle have had tightly held deliberations and no one can say for sure whom he might pick for chief justice, but outside advisers to the White House believe the main candidates are federal appeals Judges John G. Roberts and J. Michael Luttig and possibly Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

For a time, many officials and analysts in Washington assumed that Gonzales, a longtime Bush confidant and his first-term White House counsel, had been ruled out as a candidate because he took over the Justice Department in February. But in recent days, several advisers with close ties to the White House said Bush appears to be considering Gonzales, after all.

If so, it sets up a delicate conundrum for Bush. A Gonzales appointment would be a politically appealing "first" that could ease the confirmation process among Democrats and help expand the Republican base, according to some strategists. But many conservative leaders see him as too moderate on issues such as abortion and affirmative action, and a Gonzales-for-Rehnquist trade would effectively move the court somewhat to the left.

"He's clearly in the running," said one adviser who, like others, shared insights on the condition of anonymity to preserve relations with the White House. "And that's an easy confirmation -- that's the easy confirmation."

Miguel Estrada would kill both birds.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2005 8:55 AM

Gonzales is a Souter without the intellect. Estrada (or Brown, or Owens..) is a Thomas.

Posted by: h-man at June 19, 2005 2:11 PM

Too bad that the compromise makes it impossible to get Estrada confirmed in this Congress.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 19, 2005 2:15 PM

They're not going to filibuster a Hispanic nominee to the Court.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2005 2:23 PM

"They're not going to filibuster a Hispanic nominee to the Court.:

Want to bet?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 19, 2005 3:13 PM

That's what we said about the appeals court.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 19, 2005 4:15 PM

No one in America can name an appeals court judge.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2005 5:38 PM

I can, but I take the general point -- we were wrong in thinking that people would care. Having been wrong about the filibuster before is not actually evidence that we're right about it now.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 19, 2005 6:14 PM

Democrats didn't think the GOP could actually make inroads with Hispanics before. They gave away the game when they confirmed Gonzales.

Posted by: oj at June 19, 2005 6:23 PM

The article goes on to make the point that Gonzales may not in fact wnat to go on the Court. A friend of mine who used to be a partner of Gonzales when he was at Vinson and Elkins has said for years that Gonzales' real ambition is to be Governor of Texas; now that Kay Bailey is not going to challenge Perry, a race most of the establishment types think she would have won, that path looks more open than it might have even last week.

Posted by: Dan at June 19, 2005 9:01 PM

Dan: was Gonzales born in the US?

OJ: Estrada is like the cute girl you haven't meet yet. He may be great or a real pain in the ass.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 19, 2005 9:40 PM

Well, he did hang out in D.C. with Ann Coulter (and others).

They may try to filibuster, but they won't get Landreiu, Nelson (FL), possibly Nelson (NE), and maybe not Bingaman or Cantwell. On the other hand, who's to say Voinovich, Specter, and the New England moderates would vote for cloture? If they announce in advance they oppose Estrada (or whomever), why vote with the GOP at all?

Note than Voinovich voted against cloture for Bolton tonight.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 21, 2005 12:15 AM
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