President Bush, closing in on another nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, has completed his consultations with the Senate about who should fill the seat of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a White House spokesman said Friday.
Bush was expected to announce his choice in the next few days. White House press secretary Scott McClellan ruled out an announcement Friday but otherwise indicated the nomination could come anytime. The president was to fly to Camp David around midday Friday and remain there until Sunday when he returns to attend the Red Mass, a service for all those in the legal profession. On Monday, Bush will go to the Supreme Court for the investiture of John Roberts as chief justice. Roberts was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in at the White House on Thursday to succeed the late William H. Rehnquist, according to the AP.
McClellan said Bush and White House officials have discussed the next nomination with more than 80 of the 100 members of the Senate. He called the level of consultation unprecedented. He dismissed predictions that the next nomination would trigger a bruising confirmation fight.
"There was a lot of talk about that before," when Roberts was nominated, McClellan said. "It did not happen."
Advocacy groups on the right are expecting Bush to name a solid conservative. Liberal groups are making a late push for a moderate.
Senate Democrats say if the president submits the name of any previous judicial nominee whom they have filibustered, including federal appellate judges Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Hispanic lawyer Miguel Estrada, they will fight to the bitter end.
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his new US counterpart Joe Biden not to push Europe into an alliance against Beijing