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President Bush said Monday he would move swiftly to fill a Supreme Court opening, while Republican strategists said he is concentrating on female candidates and is close to a decision. Bush said he is still evaluating prospects and needs to talk with some face-to-face. But he also said he wants the Senate to be able to complete confirmation hearings so a new justice will be on the Court when it begins its new session in the fall. “My desire is to get this process moving so that someone will be confirmed — whoever he or she is — will be confirmed by October,” Bush said at a news conference with the prime minister of India. Republican strategists and interest groups friendly with the White House are gearing up for an announcement within days. They believe Bush is focusing on a woman to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the first woman ever named to the Court. Among new names in speculation were Michigan Supreme Court Judge Maura Corrigan; Cecilia M. Altonaga, a Cuban-American who is a U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Florida; and professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School. Other women who have been previously mentioned are Edith Hollan Jones and Edith Clement, who both serve on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans; Karen Williams from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.; Janice Rogers Brown, recently confirmed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; and Priscilla Owen, who was just confirmed for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Bush was careful not to disclose too many details about his selection process. When a reporter said, “We understand you are now close to a decision,” Bush replied, “Well, thank you for telling me where I am in the process.” He said his selection process involves sitting down and talking face-to-face with some candidates, but he already knows others who may be in contention. “In other words, I’m familiar with some of the people that are being speculated about in the press, and so I don’t need to interview them,” Bush said. He noted that the White House had heard suggestions from many lawmakers, but also made clear that it’s his nominee. “We have consulted with the Senate. We will continue to consult with the Senate,” Bush said. “I, of course, am the person that picks the nominee and they get to decide whether or not the nominee gets confirmed.” Bush said he is going to take his time, but advocacy groups on both the left and right are poised for an announcement. “It could come any time this week,” said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the conservative Third Branch Conference. He said he believes the White House has shifted its focus to women. Miranda said he would like to see a Hispanic named to the Court, but it might make more sense to name a woman so that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not the only woman on the nation’s highest court. “I think at this point, a woman politically is much more advantageous,” he said. The Alliance for Justice is hoping to get more liberals involved in the process through its Web site. “We need to reach out to Americans through a variety of mediums to ensure they are informed and engaged during this historic national debate,” director Nan Aron said. The Judicial Confirmation Network, a grassroots group hoping Bush will pick a conservative jurist like Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, released the second in a series of Internet ads to highlight recent Supreme Court decisions that it believes have rewritten the Constitution. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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