Survey Has Luttig on Top

Tom Bevan and John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics have conducted a survey of “some of the top Supreme Court watchers and legal minds in the country” on who is likely to be the next Supreme Court nominee. Survey results are reported here. No quantitative data, but Michael Luttig finished “just barely ahead” of John Roberts, with Michael McConnell “a very close third.”
Tom notes that the survey was conducted before recent buzz about the possibility that Justice O’Connor may retire before Justice Rehnquist, in which case “the dynamics of a nomination would change dramatically.” I suppose that’s true, but it’s a bit depressing. While there are many good, qualified, conservative women who could be nominated, I’m not sure there are any as solid or as thoroughly vetted as the three named above. If President Bush feels constrained to appoint a woman to the first vacant seat, two of the better choices would be Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen, who have finally been confirmed to the Court of Appeals after years-long filibusters. I would think it could be hard for the Democrats to explain why they are apoplectic about a Supreme Court nomination of someone they voted to confirm just a few weeks ago. (On the other hand, of course, most of the Dems voted against both nominees, so arguably it’s only a few who would have explaining to do.)
Of these two, Owen is the safer choice. There is nothing seriously controversial about her, to my knowledge. Brown is a personal favorite of ours for a number of reasons, but is a more fiery and, I think, legitimately controversial figure. I’m not at all sure she is a reliable conservative, either, although I’m pretty confident she has no intention of “growing in office.”
DEACON adds: Slate’s shortlist of eight, to which I linked yesterday, contained only one female — Edith Brown Clement. Slate found little “for conservatives to get excited about” in her record. Feedback I received in response to my post suggests that this may be an understatement.

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