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In the hours after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the U.S. Supreme Court, Christian groups and conservative radio commentators began beating the drums to have Janice Rogers Brown named her successor. Even Reuters news service and a blog maintained by Thomas Goldstein, a partner in Washington, D.C.’s Goldstein & Howe, the nation’s only Supreme Court litigation boutique, floated the former California Supreme Court justice as a contender. But most political pundits contacted Friday said that Brown — confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on June 8 after being filibustered by Democrats for nearly two years — would be a highly unlikely choice. “She’s already been the source of great controversy,” said Jesse Choper, professor of public law at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. “And she’s too new to the federal court system. “She really hasn’t had a chance to indicate what she’s going to do as a federal appellate judge,” he added. Even longtime friend Douglas Kmiec, a professor at the Pepperdine University School of Law, speculated that Brown wouldn’t be joining the Supreme Court anytime soon — but not because the White House won’t come knocking. “She will be considered if for no other reason than she is one of the most prominent women jurists in America,” he said, “and there will be a certain amount of political call to replace a woman with another.” However, Kmiec added, he believes Brown — who officially left the state Supreme Court on Thursday — would prefer to begin with the job she won less than a month ago. “She’s not a woman who comes to tasks unprepared,” he said. “Justice Brown would feel more comfortable having the opportunity to work in the federal appellate system for a reasonable amount of time before being asked” to join the high court. Nonetheless, conservatives immediately let it be known that Brown is high on their lists to replace O’Connor. Steve Yuhas, a columnist and talk show host for San Diego’s KOGO radio, said Brown’s credentials “put to shame” those of O’Connor. “Her story is inspirational,” Yuhas wrote in his online column, “but it is her intellect, judicial authority and ability that should make her President Bush’s nominee to the vacancy created by O’Connor’s departure.” Yuhas, whose station bills itself as “uniquely conservative talk radio,” wrote that he “cannot wait for the day when two black conservatives [the other being Clarence Thomas] sit on the Supreme Court interpreting the Constitution as it was meant to be interpreted.” Equally enthused was Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, who wrote on Salon.com that the “best-case scenario” would be for Brown to be nominated and confirmed for O’Connor’s seat. “She is an American Cinderella story,” Combs said. Democrats, however, don’t like Brown’s ultra-conservative philosophies, and she only won confirmation after a truce was reached on judicial nominees. Gerald Uelmen, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said that the “timing may not be right,” considering Brown just joined a new court. He also agreed that Brown is too controversial because of her conservative rulings and speeches. “This is really going to be the showdown,” Uelmen said. “O’Connor has been the pivot on the Court, really the swing vote, so her replacement can dramatically shift the court more than Rehnquist’s.” Pepperdine’s Kmiec said pressure on Bush to appoint a centrist could shift attention away from Brown, “but not entirely.” “Those who know her know she has an open mind and is a free thinker,” he said, “and just like Justice O’Connor, she can surprise.” And as much as Kmiec thinks Brown wouldn’t take a Supreme Court position now, he said he could be wrong. “Lightning strikes as it will,” he said, “and it doesn’t really care if you’re prepared or not.”

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