- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

President Bush could name his next nominee to the Supreme Court as early as today, picking someone off a shortlist of fewer than a dozen that includes women, minorities and candidates who have never sat on the bench.

“He’s considering a diverse group of potential nominees — men, women and people from all backgrounds,” said Bush spokesman Scott McClellan.

“As of tomorrow, really, is when you should consider yourself in a window when an announcement could be coming,” the spokesman said yesterday. “I’m not saying that it’s coming tomorrow, I’m not saying when it’s coming. But we’re in that window of possibility.”

One senior White House official said not to expect an announcement today. More likely, the official said, it will be early next week.

Republicans close to the White House said Mr. Bush has trimmed the list of potential candidates to fewer than a dozen, mostly federal appeals court judges, although there are a few who have never been judges.

One name that has risen to the top of the list recently, according to Republicans with close ties to the White House, is that of Harriet Miers, White House counsel and head of the official search committee.

Other oft-mentioned potential candidates are federal Judges Michael McConnell, Alice M. Batchelder, J. Michael Luttig, Edith Hollan Jones, J. Harvie Wilkinson, Samuel Alito, Karen Williams and Consuela Callahan. Nonjudges include Larry Thompson, a lawyer for Pepsico Inc., and Miss Miers.

Also mentioned are Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Mr. Bush and his advisers have consulted with more than 70 senators, including most of the 18-member Judiciary Committee, Mr. McClellan said.

Speculation has centered on women and minorities.

Some Republicans say he will pick a Hispanic, such as Mr. Alito, Mrs. Callahan or Mr. Gonzales. Others say Mr. Thompson, who is black, has become a front-runner.

It is unlikely, say several party members, that Mr. Bush will pick Judges Priscilla R. Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, two of his nominees to the federal court who raised Democratic ire on Capitol Hill.

But Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said the president should do just that.

“We should not be cowardly; we should not be timid,” he said on Fox News.

Mr. Bush hinted Monday that he might choose a woman or a minority and said he had interviewed and considered people from “all walks of life.” The latter comment leading to a choice such as Miss Miers, a Texas lawyer and Mr. Bush’s former personal attorney, or Mr. Thompson, who was the federal government’s highest-ranking black law-enforcement official when he was deputy attorney general during Mr. Bush’s first term.

If the president chooses Miss Miers, it wouldn’t be the first time the head of a search committee ended up with the job — Dick Cheney was tabbed to find Mr. Bush a running mate in 2000, then wound up on the ticket.

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