According to sources in both the White House and Senate leadership, the President is poised to nominate Federal Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito on Monday morning.
No official phone calls have been made to those Republicans who need to be in the know: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Deputy Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, but ongoing conversations among senior staff at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue lead our sources to believe Alito is it.
“Ever since the President returned from Camp David, the buzz has gotten clearer and more focused on Alito,” says a Capitol Hill source. “What we have to remember, is that it was like this when we all thought it was Edith Clement, and that didn’t work out the way we all expected.”
The other major name in play is Judge Michael Luttig. He became more actively mentioned mid-day Friday, and has remained with Alito at the top of the list. Other potential nominees that the President looked over at Camp David read like the short lists of rumors past: Sykes, Williams, Corrigan and Jones.
According to White House sources, if Alito does beat out Luttig it will be based on the White House quest for what they are calling “consistency.” Those who have evaluated the potential nominees believe Alito is more likely to remain a consistent, conservative judge on the Supreme Court bench than Luttig, who some inside the White House believe would have the potential to “grow” on the bench. As one White House staffer told us earlier in the weekend, “We’re not talking about much of a difference. The President could go either way.”