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The White House has slowed the announcement of President Bush’s next pick for the Supreme Court to bask — at least for a few days — in John Roberts’ confirmation. Women and minorities remain atop what is said to be a narrowing list of candidates. Bush initially was expected to name his second nominee to the nation’s highest court soon after Roberts was sworn in as chief justice on Thursday. White House advisers now say the announcement probably won’t come until next week. Advocacy groups on the right are expecting Bush to name a rock-solid conservative to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Liberal groups are making a last-minute push for a moderate conservative. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, say if the president sends up any of the nominees they filibustered — including federal appellate judges Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada — they will fight to the bitter end. And Bush’s own “short list”? “It’s not that long,” was all White House press secretary Scott McClellan would give up in the way of hints on Thursday. Outside observers suggest the list has been narrowed to about five or six candidates, federal appellate judges and perhaps a few people who have never worn a judicial robe. Mentioned most frequently in recent days are U.S. appeals judges Owen, Karen Williams and Alice Batchelder; Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan; White House counsel Harriet Miers; Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; and PepsiCo attorney Larry Thompson, who was the federal government’s highest-ranking black law enforcement official when he was deputy attorney general during Bush’s first term. Others mentioned less frequently include federal appellate Judges J. Michael Luttig, Edith Jones, Samuel Alito, Michael McConnell and Consuelo Callahan. Callahan, like Gonzales, is Hispanic. There has never been a Hispanic Supreme Court justice. Bush has a record of nominating individuals with conservative judicial philosophies for federal appeals court judgeships. And, despite opposition from Senate Democrats, many of Bush’s conservative nominees eventually were confirmed, notes Wendy Long, counsel for the Judicial Confirmation Network, which is backing Bush’s picks. On Thursday, the Senate voted 78-22 to confirm the conservative Roberts as successor to the late William H. Rehnquist, who died earlier this month. All the Senate’s majority Republicans and half of the Democrats voted for Roberts. “I’m hoping and expecting the president will stay on track as he has been in the past five years because it’s succeeding now better than it ever has before,” Long said. “Why in heaven’s name would you reverse course?” Gearing up for what Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said will probably be a more contentious confirmation process, the conservative Progress for America debuted a new television ad on Wednesday calling for fair treatment of the next nominee. “Urge the Senate to continue putting partisan politics aside, hold fair hearings and give the next nominee a fair up or down vote,” said the ad, which cost $275,000 to air for a week on two cable networks. On the other side, the liberal People for the American Way is continuing to urge the president to find a consensus nominee. “There are a number of distinguished judges — first appointed to the federal bench by Republican presidents — who would, like Sandra Day O’Connor, likely receive overwhelming bipartisan support to replace her,” organization president Ralph Neas said. His statement suggested four appellate judges the group considers consensus candidates: Ann Williams, Sonia Sotomayor, Jose Cabranes and Edward Prado. “The stakes are particularly high with the replacement for O’Connor, a mainstream conservative who often provided the decisive vote to uphold many rights and protections,” Neas said. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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