School: Yale Law School
Background:: Deputy assistant attorney generalunder President Ronald Reagan, U.S. attorneyfor the District of New Jersey.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 3rd Circuit (appointed 1990).
Alito has earned the conservativestripes that put him into the runningfor a Supreme Court vacancy.
As a member of the circuit thatcomprises New Jersey, Pennsylvaniaand Delaware, Alito was the lone dissenterin two significant cases: one thatoverturned a Pennsylvania law requiringthat a husband be notified beforehis wife gets an abortion, and anotherthat did not put a higher burden ofproof on people seeking to make sexualdiscrimination claims.
Alito who was born in Trenton, N.J.,has the credentials to be in the hunt fora new justice: an undergraduate degreefrom Princeton and a law degree fromYale, soon followed by seven years inthe Reagan administration.
In 1987, he became the U.S. attorneyin New Jersey. President George Bushnamed him to the 3rd Circuit in 1990.Though he is known for carving out ajudicial reputation similar to JusticeAntonin Scalia -- intellectually admirablebut predictably conservative --he is said to lack Scalia's feisty manner.
EDITH BROWN CLEMENT
School: Tulane Law School
Background:: Judge on the U.S. District Court,Eastern District of Louisiana.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 5th Circuit (appointed 2001).
Clement might be the least known ofpotential nominees. Clement wasamong the first batch of judges appointedor elevated when PresidentBush came into office in 2001. Without acontentious hearing, Clement sailedthrough the Senate on a unanimousvote when she joined the 5th Circuit inNovember 2001.
Her greatest fame probably camewhen she was a district judge in Louisianaand presided over the trial of formerLouisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards,at one point threatening to fine him$1,000 a word if he violated a gag order.A native of Alabama, Clement wentto the University of Alabama and TulaneLaw School. She was in privatepractice in Louisiana before PresidentGeorge Bush named her to the DistrictCourt in 1991.
Clement has compiled a solid recordon the 5th Circuit. While there are noopinions in her resume that shouldgenerate conservative support, neitherare there any that seem likely to causewidespread opposition.
School: University of Texas School of Law
Background:: Marine captain, Texas trial judge,U.S. district judge in the Western District ofTexas.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 5th Circuit (appointed 1991).
Garza came close to the SupremeCourt 14 years ago. President GeorgeBush interviewed him after ThurgoodMarshall retired but ended up pickingClarence Thomas. At the time, Garzahad spent only a few months on theCourt of Appeals.
Now there would be no question ofexperience; Garza has spent more thana decade on the 5th Circuit, compilinga generally conservative record, thoughhis upholding of Supreme Court precedentssupporting abortion rights couldgive pause to social conservatives.A native of San Antonio, Garza is aformer Marine captain who graduatedfrom Notre Dame University and theUniversity of Texas Law School.He was in private practice whenPresident Ronald Reagan put him onthe District Court in 1988. At the time,he was the youngest District Courtjudge in the country.
Three years later, in confirmationhearings for the appellate seat, Garzadenounced legislating from the bench.
ALBERTO R. GONZALES
School: Harvard Law School
Background:: General counsel to then-TexasGov. George W. Bush, lawyer at Vinson &Elkins, justice of the Supreme Court ofTexas, White House counsel to Bush.
Currently: U.S. attorney general
Gonzales brings a compelling personalstory and a friendship with PresidentBush to the table. Born in SanAntonio, Gonzales was the second ofeight children of migrant workers. Hewent to public schools, joined the AirForce and graduated from Rice Universityand then Harvard Law School.
Gonzales joined Bush's gubernatorialadministration in 1994, taking severalroles before he was appointed tothe Texas Supreme Court. In January2001, he was named counsel to thepresident. After his re-election, Bushnominated Gonzales to attorney general.Opponents focused on memos heoversaw that justified controversial interrogationtactics for terror suspects.
In his time on the Texas court, Gonzalesdid not compile a conservativerecord. When his name surfaced as apotential Supreme Court nominee,critics on the right said he wasn't conservativeenough, while others complainedthat he did not have a strongjudicial resume.
EDITH HOLLAN JONES
School: University of Texas Law School
Background:: Attorney at the Houston law firmAndrews, Kurth, Campbell & Jones.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 5th Circuit (appointed in 1985).
Jones was the first female partner atthe Houston law firm now known as Andrews& Kurth, active in Republicanpolitics and a recognized expert onbankruptcy law.
But she has also been widely viewedas too conservative to survive a gruelingconfirmation battle. Amid the speculationthat followed Sandra Day O'Connor'sretirement announcement, Joneswas loudly criticized by liberal groups.
As a judge on the New Orleansbased5th Circuit, she once wrote a dissentingopinion arguing that a districtcourt's dismissal of a sexual harassmentcase should be upheld becausethe harassment had come at the handsof co-workers, not a supervisor.
Jones has received the most attentionfor her writing in a 2004 case inwhich the 5th Circuit turned away achallenge to abortion rights by the original"Jane Roe." Jones questioned someof the central findings of the SupremeCourt's 1970 decision in Roe v. Wade:
"If courts were to delve into the factsunderlying Roe's balancing schemewith present-day knowledge, theymight conclude that the woman's'choice' is far more risky and less beneficial,and the child's sentience far moreadvanced, than the Roe court knew."
School: University of Virginia School of Law
Background:: White House assistant counselfor Ronald Reagan and in the Justice Departmentduring the administration of thefirst President Bush.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 4th Circuit (appointed 1991).
Luttig, a Texas native, went to Virginiain 1972 to attend Washington andLee University and never left. He wentto the University of Virginia law schooland spent most of his legal career atthe Justice Department before he wasappointed to the Court of Appeals in1991 by President George Bush.
Luttig was mentored early in his careerby Chief Justice Warren Burgerand is known for being networked intothe Supreme Court.
Though considered a conservativethinker, Luttig's intellectual rigor oftenleads him away from doctrinaire positions.For instance, though he had previouslyvoted to uphold Virginia's banon "partial-birth" abortions, after theSupreme Court ruled on the issue, Luttigwrote in 2000 that the state lawmust be struck down.
In a concurring opinion in a 2001case called Safety-Kleen v. Wyche,which hinged on technical argumentsabout issuing preliminary injunctions,Luttig criticized judges who easily ignoreboth the plight of those before thecourt and Supreme Court precedents.
School: University of Chicago Law School
Background:: Law professor at the Universityof Chicago and the University of Utah, appellateattorney for the firm Mayer Brown.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 10th Circuit (appointed 2002).
McConnell has the imprimatur oftwo important pieces of the conservativelegal establishment. One is hiswork in the Reagan administration --in the solicitor general's office and asan assistant general counsel in the Officeof Management and Budget. Theother is a stint teaching at the Universityof Chicago Law School, the thinktank of conservative legal scholarshipthat produced Justice Antonin Scalia.But McConnell also clerked for theliberal Justice William J. Brennan Jr.He has been fervent in his oppositionto Roe v. Wadebut also criticized theSupreme Court for its decision in Bushv. Gore. He has supported state aid toparochial schools and the rights of anIndian tribe to use the hallucinogenicdrug peyote in its ceremonies.
In an opinion piece for The WallStreet Journal, he wrote that Roe v.Wadewas "an embarrassment to thosewho take constitutional law seriously."But in his 2002 confirmation hearingsfor a seat on the 10th Circuit Court ofAppeals, he said it was "settled law."During his years on the 10th Circuit,he has not written any opinions likelyto excite supporters or opponents.
J. HARVIE WILKINSON III
School: University of Virginia School of Law
Background:: Law professor at the Universityof Virginia. He was also at the Justice Departmentduring the Reagan administrationand served as the editorial-page editor ofThe Virginian-Pilotin Norfolk, Va.
Currently: Judge on the U.S. Court of Appealsfor the 4th Circuit (appointed 1984).
The first summer job that JayWilkinson had in high school was amessenger for a Richmond law firm.He was hired by a friend of his parents,Lewis Powell. When Powell was namedto the Supreme Court in 1971, Wilkinsonwas the first clerk he hired.
Wilkinson had graduated from YaleUniversity in 1967, spent two years inthe Army, ran unsuccessfully for theHouse of Representatives, then wentto law school.
He taught at Virginia for threeyears after clerking for Powell, andthen joined the Virginian-Pilotas editorof its editorial page. He went toWashington in 1982, working in theCivil Rights Division of the Reagan administration'sJustice Department.
Reagan appointed him to the 4th Circuitin 1984, and he has been there eversince, serving a seven-year rotation aschief judge from 1996 to 2003.Wilkinson has carved out a solidconservative reputation, but he hasalso made himself a center of courtesyand collegiality on what has often beena contentious court.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun