Senator George Allen (R-VA) named names Thursday when asked by Fox News to suggest viable replacements for the now withdrawn Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.
Allen mentioned Judges Michael Luttig, Karen Williams, J. Harvey Wilkinson, and Janice Rogers Brown as potential nominees.
Luttig, Williams, and Wilkinson serve on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals covering Allen�s home state of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
Luttig has served on the Fourth Circuit since 1991. He had previously served as a law clerk for Antonin Scalia, when Scalia was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and for Chief Justice Warren Burger from 1983 to 1984. He was widely rumored to be on the short-list of candidates for both the Rehnquist opening, now filled by Chief Justice John Roberts, and the O�Connor opening prior to the now-withdrawn nomination of Miers
Luttig authored the Fourth Circuit�s opinion in Brzonkala v. Virginia Polytechnic Institute, a case enforcing the Constitution�s long-ignored Commerce Clause. "Though the authority conferred upon the federal government be broad,� Luttig wrote, "it is an authority constrained by no less than that of the People themselves.�
Williams has served on the Fourth Circuit since 1992. Allen singled her out for her opinion in a case upholding the Pledge of Allegiance in Virginia schools in August 2005. "The Pledge, unlike prayer, is not a religious exercise or activity, but a patriotic one,� Williams wrote. "(It) ... does not amount to an establishment of religion.�
Though lesser known than Luttig and Wilkinson, Williams could benefit from her gender, as some politicians and pundits will likely press the president to nominate another woman.
Wilkinson was nominated for the Fourth Circuit by Ronald Reagan in 1984, and has served since that time. Like Luttig, he was widely considered to be on the short-list for both of the open slots on the Supreme Court. At 61, he would not serve on the bench for as long as some conservatives hope for the next Bush nominee.
Wilkinson wrote the majority opinion in a case that upheld President Clinton�s "don�t ask, don�t tell� policy for gay people in the military, holding that courts have no power to overrule a president�s military policies.
He also wrote a strong dissent in a case that upheld damages for emotional distress in the case of Falwell v. Flynt where the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed severe emotional distress over a parody of him published in Hustler Magazine. "Nothing is more thoroughly democratic,� Wilkinson wrote, "than to have the high and mighty lampooned and spoofed.� The Supreme Court eventually agreed with Wilkinson and overruled the decision of the Fourth Circuit.
Janice Rogers Brown is the most controversial judge on the short list provided by Allen. She is the daughter of an Alabama sharecropper and an unrepentant libertarian-conservative. She served on the California Supreme Court from 1996 to 2004.
Brown has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since earlier this year when she was confirmed in the now infamous "deal� made by the "Gang of 14� to avoid a Democratic filibuster and subsequent Republican invocation of the so-called "nuclear option.�
Her nomination may result in the "brawl� that many conservative commentators, such as the Weekly Standard�s Fred Barnes, have anticipated. It would also put Democrats in an awkward position as Brown has overcome being born into a life of poverty to reach the second most powerful court in the United States, and has done so while abhorring the ever-increasing role of government.
"Where government moves in,� Brown told the Federalist Society in 2000, "community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is families under siege, war in the streets, unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility; and the triumph of deceit.�
She is beloved by "movement conservatives,� and reviled by liberals. Conservative attorney Peter Kirsanow says as a "black female ... who may not view Roe as the zenith of constitutional jurisprudence,� she represents the "Storm of the Century� as a judicial nominee.