President Bush will announce another Supreme Court nominee within days, and he appears to have narrowed the field to conservative federal appeals court judges Samuel A. Alito Jr. and J. Michael Luttig, sources close to the selection process said late Saturday.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions, said several other conservative jurists remained on the president's short list, but that Alito and Luttig had moved to the head of the line. One source said Alito was the top contender and Luttig a close second.
Bush and his aides were huddling this weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat to make a final decision. An announcement was expected as soon as today, although one source said Monday appeared more likely.
White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri declined to comment on the status of the selection process. "I can't confirm anything," she said. "No announcement has been made."
Although the sources said Alito and Luttig were the clear favorites, Bush has surprised some of his closest allies in the past by allowing word to circulate that he was about to nominate one person, then choosing someone else instead.
I've already talked a lot about Luttig here, so I'll talk a little about Alito before moving on. Alito was involved in a signifigant way in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which he voted in the minority on the lower Court before it reached the SCOTUS.
Judge Alito is a favorite of conservatives and a likely target of liberal attacks because, among other things, he wrote a dissenting opinion to the appeals court decision of Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey, an abortion case. He argued that the state could require married women to notify their husbands before obtaining an abortion, and his dissenting opinion was cited by former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in his own dissent when the case reached the Supreme Court.
Whoa, women need their husband's permission to get an abortion? They aren't their own legal guardians? What about unmarried women? Do they have no right to an abortion? This is one of the screwiest ideas I've ever heard, far screwier than the opinion that there is no right to abortion as much as I disagree with that position. They must get their husband's permission!? Is Alito still living in 1900? Because I know most of us have moved on from then.
Moving on now, President Bush is incredibly sexist. Apparently there is not a single conservative woman in the entire country who is more qualified to be a Supreme Court nominee than Harriet Miers. I find that hard to believe.
One lawyer close to the president said that when Mr. Bush chose Ms. Miers he did so after concluding there was not a long roster of female candidates with whom he felt comfortable.
"When he chose her," said the lawyer, "she was one of three finalists and the other two were men."
Ok, let's argue this from President Bush's perspective, since I hate everyone I'm about to mention. Is he seriously arguing that Edith Brown Clement, Edith Jones, or Priscilla Owen among the hoardes of other candidates would not be more qualified for the highest Court in the land than Miss Crony Harriet Miers? Men are just inherently superior jurists to women? Surely there is a well qualified conservative woman out there that Bush could nominate. The choice should not be between an unqualified woman and a qualified man, but a qualified woman and a qualified man. A standard that I'm sure if Mr. Bush looks even a little he can find. I hope he's just covering his ass with that comment, or else it says some very disturbing things about his own process for determining nominees.