Video: Who may replace O'Connor?

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updated 7/13/2005 4:18:47 PM ET 2005-07-13T20:18:47

With President Bush in the process of picking his first nominee to the Supreme Court, Steve Henderson, a Supreme Court correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers in Washington, broke down some of the leading candidates for the vacancy with MSNBC Live.

A look at some of the possible candidates:

Minority Candidates:
Alberto Gonzalez
Bio information: Age: 50; United States Attorney General, February 3, 2005 – present Nominated By: George W. Bush
Henderson says:  "This is a president who tends to pick people for important positions who he trusts and feels comfortable with.  Former Judge Gonzalez has been with the president for a very long time.  He was a council in Texas, on the Texas Supreme Court.  He was White House Counsel here before he was Attorney General.  I think you have to give him the leading spot on this."

Emilio Garza
Bio information: Age: 58; U.S. Court of Appeals for 5th Circuit, May 24, 1991 - present
Nominated by: George H.W. Bush
Henderson says:  "I think Judge Garza is probably somewhat problematic for the White House if they’re sort of looking for an easier time in the Senate.  I think some of his opinions like those on abortion would be a real problem for some of the activist groups.
He’s been a judge for a long time and has a lot of opinions that I think would give him a lot of trouble in front of the committee."

Samuel Alito
Bio information: Age 55; U.S. Court of Appeals for 3rd Circuit, April 30, 1990- present Nominated by: George H.W. Bush
Henderson says:  "He’s sort of a wildly brilliant mind and just an asset to the bench.  But again because of his positions and how they will be viewed by conservatives, he’s another judge who would have a hard time in front of the Senate."

Women Candidates:
Edith Brown Clement
Bio information
: Age: 57; U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, November 26, 2001- present
Nominated by: George W. Bush
Henderson says:  "Judge Clement has been on the bench a really long time having been nominated by the first President Bush to the District Court and by George W. Bush to the Appeals Court.  She sailed through without much problem party because there were some other names on the list that added some hackles to the Hill."

Edith Jones
Bio information: Age: 56, U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, April 4, 1984-present
Nominated by: Ronald Reagan
Henderson says:  "I think Judge Jones has a couple of problematic opinions.  The most notable was last year in the case that sought to reopen Roe vs. Wade abortion case.  She wrote a concurring opinion that continued to question whether Roe should even be law and encouraged the Supreme Court to take the issue up again.  I think that’s incredible fodder for Democrats and activists groups."

Janice Rogers Brown
Bio information: Age: 56, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, June 8, 2005 - present
Nominated by: George W. Bush
Henderson says:  "I think all she has all the same virtues and attractions has a high court nominee as she did as a nominee to the D.C. Appeals bench (where her nomination was held up by the Senate for almost two years).  Judge Brown has a very unusual view of the Constitution and reach of government."

Other Candidates:
John Roberts
Bio information
:  Age: 50; U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C., June 2, 2002 - present
Nominated by: George W. Bush
Henderson says:  "Everybody, left, right and center is pretty high on Judge Roberts which I think is also interesting, given he hasn’t been a judge that long.  He’s been in Washington forever as a practitioner and in the Reagan Justice Department.  But this is not someone whose opinions on most politically hot button issues are known.  We don’t know what he believes for example about Roe v. Wade although there are some clues from his time in the Justice Department.  But those aren’t too solid."

Michael Luttig
Bio information: Age: 51; U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, August 2, 1991 - present; Nominated by: George H.W. Bush
Henderson says:  "He sits on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is a pretty big death penalty circuit and upholds a lot of death sentences.  He had a part in striking down the Violence Against Women Act."

Michael McConnell
Bio information: Age: 50; U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, November 26, 2002 - present
Nominated by: George W. Bush
Henderson says:  "I think as a professor and academic you tend to write in a way about certain topics.  You might not be able to address as bluntly as a judge who’s constrained by precedent and things of that nature.  He has very interesting opinions about a wide range of topics."

J. Harviee Wilkinson
Bio information
: Age: 61, U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, August 31, 1984 - present
Nominated by:  Ronald Reagan
Henderson says: "Age hurts him a little but I think he’s a little old for what they’re looking for.  I also think Wilkinson, who’s the chief judge of the 4th Circuit, is a real strong candidate who would have a lot of support across the spectrum.  He’s been a judge a long time.  He’s very solid on the Constitution and the law.  He does have some drawback that the liberals will take after.  Number one being that he wrote the opinion on Yassar Hamdi saying he could be kept without a lawyer." 

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