The Chicago Tribune newspaper reports today that "With an announcement expected Sunday or Monday, administration officials have narrowed the focus to Judges Samuel Alito of New Jersey and J. Michael Luttig of Virginia, sources involved in the process said....sources...involved in the process--outside the handful in Bush's inner circle who were weighing the selection this weekend at Camp David--said a nominee other than Alito or Luttig would come as a surprise."
Conservative insider judicial blog Confirm Them writes, "There is a Sunday rumor that the President will make his announcement this evening. KJ Lopez has that up at NRO....
I have talked to a Senate aide on the Judiciary Committee who seems to think it will be Alito, based solely on buzz. Other sources likewise say the buzz is all Alito all the time, but Luttig is getting play too.
The word on the street is that Alito and Luttig have been getting all the airtime, but Robert Novak’s column put Corrigan into the conversation. Sykes is now getting more talk than Williams, but people just seem to think Alito is the guy."
Both Alito and Luttig are long-time judges with substantial records of judicial rulings. They are also both considered strong, but not radical, conservative judicial voices. Scuttlebutt is that Judge Alito was "narrowly passed over" as O'Connor's replacement, when the President selected White House Counsel Harriet Miers over Alito.
Both are well-qualified, in terms of experience and education, to sit on the Supreme Court, but both would be more conservative than Justice O'Connor. Thus, a fiery fight on ideological grounds would be likely to occur in the Senate confirmation process.
It appears that Alito may have a slight edge over Luttig for two reasons......1. A Luttig nomination could again be characterized as cronysim, a charge the Bush Administration is anxious to leave behind; and 2. Alito's academic record strongly surpasses that of Luttig.
Now I'm going out on a limb here....but I believe that odds are against an ultra-dramatic Democratic filibuster of either Alito or Luttig to be a Supreme Court Justice. They're not so radical or unqualified as to inspire the frenzy of another nuclear option threat.
But I could be wrong.....In fact, the entire blogosphere buzz could be wrong. It was dead wrong when Bush nominated his personal attorney Harriet Miers for the lifetime position.
But speculation is half the fun, isn't it?
As newsy judicial speculation blog Underneath Their Robes teases, "With everyone fixated on Judge Alito and Judge Luttig, nominating Judge (Janice Rogers) Brown would take many by surprise -- and President Bush sure likes surprises."