Tags: Novak: | Bush | Favors | Owen | Replace | O'Connor

Novak: Bush Favors Owen to Replace O'Connor

Monday, 12 September 2005 12:00 AM

According to Novak, Washington insiders believe Bush will name a conservative woman to replace O'Connor.

Appellate Judges Edith Clement (New Orleans) and Edith Jones (Houston) have been cited as possible choices. But Owen is considered the strongest candidate for the post.

At age 50, she can guarantee a conservative court for 20 years, Novak writes.

Owen was a petroleum industry lawyer when Republicans tapped her to run for the Texas Supreme Court in 1994. She and Bush, then a candidate for Texas governor, occasionally campaigned together, and Karl Rove was their mutual consultant.

Owen was approved by only a 55-to-43 margin for appellate judge and would face bitter opposition from the left, "but so would any of the other conservative women acceptable to Bush," Novak reports. Gonzales would be a more palatable choice for Democrats, but would face strong opposition from many on the right.

Republican insiders have long believed that President Bush would like to nominate Gonzales in part because of "the historic opportunity it would afford him to appoint the first Hispanic justice – a potential major boost in his long-running campaign to build Republican support among the growing Hispanic population," according to the Washington Post.

But conservatives argue that Gonzales has not proved himself to be devoted to their cause on such issues as abortion and affirmative action.

"You finally get a Republican president, a real Republican majority in the Senate and then you don't move the court to the right?" asked William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. "It would be totally demoralizing to the president's supporters."

As a Texas Supreme Court justice two years ago, Gonzales sided with the court's decision to allow a 17-year-old girl to get an abortion without notifying her parents.

As Bush's White House counsel, Gonzales also clashed with conservatives over the administration's approach to affirmative action. Brad Berenson, an associate White House counsel from 2001 to 2003, defended Gonzales, saying that many of the objections to his nomination "are based on fear and doubt rather than facts and data. "The conservatives who know Gonzales the best are, to a person, strong supporters of his."

But Bruce Fein, a conservative legal scholar who served in the Justice Department, told the Post: "Al Gonzales has never said or written anything to indicate that he has pronounced conservative convictions – it's been a symphony of silence."

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According to Novak, Washington insiders believe Bush will name a conservative woman to replace O'Connor. Appellate Judges Edith Clement (New Orleans) and Edith Jones (Houston) have been cited as possible choices. But Owen is considered the strongest candidate for the...
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Monday, 12 September 2005 12:00 AM
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