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The Next Nominee

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Now that we are happily past the Miers nomination, the obvious question is: Who's Next? I would like to commend two candidates to Mr. Bush: Michael McConnell and J. Harvie Wilkinson. Both are conservative judges with distinguished records of achievement.

McConnell, who once served as law clerk to Justice William Brennan, was a law professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Utah before being appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He is one of the nation's leading constitutional scholars and a person of impeccable integrity and character. He has strong views on the freedom of religion and is not a supporter of Roe v. Wade, but he is fair-minded, thoughtful, and brilliant.

Wilkinson has experience as a journalist, a law professor and a judge. He was a law clerk to Justice Lewis Powell and served as a law professor at the University of Virginia, where he earned a national reputation as an excellent scholar in the area of free speech. He has served for many years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and has also served as Chief Judge of that court. He has a long and impressive record as a sensible, independent, and intellectually stellar jurist.

McConnell and Wilkinson would not please everyone. They are quite conservative. But they are well within the mainstream of legal thought. In my judgment, there would be no legitimate reason to oppose either on grounds of ideology. Although neither would be my choice for a Democratic president (far from it), one has to win elections to have the right to make that choice. Given that we have a Republican president and a Republican Senate, and given that these are two exceptionally highly qualified candidates, even Democrats in the Senate should support them.

Of course, Mr. Bush may try to ram through the Senate a right-wing nominee who lacks the extraordinay qualifications of a McConnell or a Wilkinson. That would be a grievous mistake.