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First, President George W. Bush and the White House must choose the nominee to the Supreme Court to replace the departing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Then comes the battle to see that nominee confirmed by the Senate. Informing that process in a variety of ways will be a handful of players, both inside and outside of government, whose influence is felt within the Bush administration and on Capitol Hill. Here’s a look at some of those who’ll be working — sometimes publicly, oftentimes quietly — on behalf of the Bush administration.
Name: Rachel Brand Position: Nominated in 2005 to head the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. Background: Worked in the White House Counsel’s office from 2001 to 2002. Law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. Role: As acting chief of the Office of Legal Policy, Brand spearheads the department’s vetting of judicial nominees. Her staff includes former congressional staffers Richard Hertling Jr. and Kristi Remington. The bulk of Brand’s work may be over once the president has chosen a nominee. However, depending on who is selected, she may be called on to assist in the confirmation process. Name: Michael Carvin Position: Partner, Jones Day Background: One of the lead lawyers for President Bush in the Supreme Court case over the Florida recount; served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in both the Civil Rights Division and Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan administration. Role: A veteran of Republican politics, Carvin will play a role in developing the strategy for the nominee’s confirmation as well as in framing the issues with the media. Though he says he was “stunned” when O’Connor announced her resignation, he says Republican groups have amassed significant funding and will coordinate to spread the message. “Unfortunately they’ll also have to respond to a lot of liberal interest groups and false and defamatory statements,” he says. Name: Charles Cooper Position: Founder of Cooper & Kirk (then called Cooper & Carvin) Background: Member of the Federalist Society; served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Civil Rights. Role: A prominent Republican lawyer, Cooper has had his hand in the Supreme Court nominations of William Rehnquist, Robert Bork, and Anthony Kennedy. Although he’s finishing up a trial in Nashville, Tenn., this week, he won’t be shy about expressing his opinion or helping push through the nominee. “I don’t know anybody who isn’t,” he says. Name: Dabney Friedrich Position: Associate White House Counsel since 2003. Background: Worked on the staff of then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Law clerk to Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Role: Friedrich’s boss, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, will be a key advisor to the president as he decides who to put forward as a replacement for O’Connor. And much of the information Miers will rely on will have been compiled by Friedrich, who coordinates the office’s work on judicial selections. If Friedrich needs to make an aggressive case for the president’s nominee, she can rely on the experience of seven years as a prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia. Name: Jose Fuentes Position: Reed Smith lobbyist since 2001 Background: Former attorney general of Puerto Rico. Bush insider active in mobilizing the Hispanic vote in 2000 and 2004 election. Bush “Pioneer” in 2004, raising $100,000. Role Fuentes has already had informal talks with the White House and the Department of Justice about a role in a high court nomination. If the choice is a Hispanic, Fuentes will coordinate message, public perception, the participation of various Hispanic advocacy groups and will coordinate coalition effort. Even if the choice isn’t a Hispanic, Fuentes will be doing outreach. “Hispanics are very interested in helping a conservative candidate get to the Supreme Court,” he says. Name: C. Boyden Gray Position: Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr Background: Legal Counsel to Vice President George H.W. Bush; White House Counsel to President Bush from 1989-1993; Co-Chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy; Bush-Cheney Transition Department of Justice Advisory Committee. Role: Gray is the dean of judicial nominations. He has deep Republican ties and a long history with judicial nominations. He chairs the Committee for Justice, which has been on the forefront of the fight to confirm President Bush’s nominees for the federal courts. The group has been raising money for the fight for the Supreme Court vacancy. Gray met last week with White House officials to discuss candidates for the high court. Whoever the nominee, Gray will play a pivotal role in vetting the individual and coordinating strategy for the confirmation. Name: Leonard Leo Position: Executive Vice President, Federalist Society Background: A one-time associate at New Jersey’s Sills Beck who specialized in gaming law and casino regulation, Leo has been a fixture at the Federalist Society for more than a decade. During the 2004 election was head of Catholic Outreach for the Republican National Committee. Role: An expert on the history of judicial nominations and the judicial records of the leading candidates, Leo has been taking the Federalist Society’s views directly to the Oval Office. But should the White House pick someone that ruffles the feathers of the Society’s big names, they’ll need Leo to smooth things over for the confirmation battle. Name: Edwin Meese III Position: Fellow, Heritage Foundation Background: Longtime adviser to President Ronald Reagan, Meese served as U.S. Attorney General from 1985 to 1988. A member of the Federalist Society’s Board of Visitors, Meese is a staunch opponent of judicial activism. Role: Outside adviser. A veteran of his own confirmation process and a prominent figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, Meese knows a thing or two about battling hostile senators. Even if he isn’t pushing a particular candidate, his views on the judiciary will receive a sympathetic ear from many quarters of the White House. Name: Michael O’Neill Position: Chief Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee Background: Former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, Commissioner of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1999 to 2005. Associate Professor, George Mason University. Role: O’Neill will be a key player in helping Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., push the president’s choice on Senate moderates. That is, of course, presuming that Specter sticks with the president should Bush pick a nominee skeptical of abortion rights. One knowledgeable source says this Brigham Young University alum was hired in January because “he assuages some of the [conservatives'] concerns about Specter.” Name: Jay Sekulow Position: Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice Background: A leading Supreme Court advocate, particularly on church-state issues; faculty member for DOJ’s Office of Legal Education. Role: One of the so-called “four horsemen” who met last week at the White House to discuss high court strategy (the others being Gray, Leo, and Meese) Sekulow will help coordinate the Republican outreach. With his nationally broadcast radio show and organization’s close ties to the Christian right (it was founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson), Sekulow will play a key role in galvanizing support for one of Bush’s key constituencies. He has already met with officials at the White House and Justice Department. On July 1, he sent e-mails to 850,000 supporters and spoke on his daily radio show. “Now the focus is on the base,” Sekulow says. “Once the president makes a decision we want to make sure that we get a confirmation.” Names: Theodore Ullyot, Raul Yanes, Kyle Sampson Positions: Senior staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Background: All three lawyers worked for Gonzales in the White House Counsel’s Office during President Bush’s first term. Role: Ullyot, Yanes, and Sampson will be working behind the scenes on the upcoming confirmation battle, particularly if it is their boss who gets the nod. Since all three worked in the White House prior to joining DOJ, they know the ins and outs of the administration’s judge picking philosophy. Earlier this year, Sampson and Yanes helped prep Gonzales for his confirmation as attorney general. And Ullyot has close ties to another candidate on the administration’s short list — Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Compiled by Influence reporter Anna Palmer, Legal Times senior reporter Vanessa Blum, reporters Jason McLure and Emma Schwartz, and intern Hilary Lewis.

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