President Bush Will Announce Supreme Court Selection Tonight

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 19, 2005

Washington, DC ( — President Bush told reporters during the day on Tuesday that he will announce his selection to replace outgoing pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor tonight. Washington observers are speculating that the president will nominate Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Bush is scheduled to make the announcement at 9 p.m. EST from the East Room of the White House.

At a midday news conference, Bush said he has examined "a variety of people, people from different walks of life."

Amid intense speculation that Bush would make the announcement soon, White House press secretary Scott McClellan walked into the press briefing room Tuesday morning and said, "The president has made a decision and will be announcing his nominee to the Supreme Court at 9 o’clock."

"I do have an obligation to think about people from different backgrounds that have shared the same philosophy, people who will not legislate from the bench," Bush added at the press conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Clement is described by top Republicans as a conservative jurist in the mold of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia, that Bush favors. However, she does not have a long list of opinions on which abortion advocates could criticize her and she is thought to be a nominee Senate Democrats may not oppose as strongly.

Clement is a Catholic who received her law degree from Tulane University. President Bush appointed her to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1991 and the current President Bush appointed her to the 5th Circuit in 2001. The Senate confirmed her on a unanimous 99-0 vote.

Although she doesn’t have a long line of judicial opinions on abortion, Nancy Keenan, the head of the abortion advocacy group NARAL, said a Clement appointment would raise "seriously troubling" questions.

"Unless she was able to put those concerns to rest in Senate hearings, pro-choice Americans would oppose her nomination," Keenan said.

Another possible candidate is Judge Edith Hollan Jones, who is also on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans.

O’Connor was the deciding vote in a 2000 case that invalidated a Nebraska law banning partial-birth abortions. The case paved the way for courts to overturn over state bans and the Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments on the federal ban President Bush signed. A new justice would play a crucial role in upholding or overturning that decision.

In addition, O’Connor was part of the 6-3 majority that upheld the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions in 1973. By replacing her with a pro-life jurist, President Bush would move the court to just one vote away from toppling the landmark decision.

Signaling the nomination was close at hand, Bush called on Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to the White House for a late Monday meeting. He will chair hearings in the committee on any nominee.