Priscilla Owen for the Supreme Court?
We're not entirely sure why we bother reporting what Robert Novak says anymore, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. As confirmation hearings begin for John G. Roberts, Novak is saying that there's now a "front-runner" in the race to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, and her name is Priscilla Owen.
Owen, the staunchly conservative Texas judge with a strong antiabortion track record, was confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in May on a mostly party-line, 55-43 vote as part of the nuclear-option-averting deal struck by the Senate's Gang of 14. Novak says that George W. Bush met secretly with her last week, and he suggests that much should be read into the meeting, since Bush already knows Owen fairly well and had no need to get acquainted with her. As Novak notes, Owen and Bush sometimes campaigned together when he was running for governor and she was running for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court. Karl Rove worked as an advisor for both of them.
All this needs to be viewed with a heavy dose of skepticism. Novakula is desperate to shore up his reputation as an actual reporter and really wants the bragging rights for a scoop. Since in conservative circles you get to showboat for home runs, and nobody keeps track of your strikeouts, Novak is swinging away like Rob Deer. But those last few sentences really sound convincing when you keep in mind the qualifications Bush values in his appointments. And then there's this...
She was a petroleum industry lawyer in 1994 when Republicans tapped her to run for the Texas Supreme Court.
Bush knows her, she's staunchly opposed to abortion AND she worked in petroleum? That's the trifecta! And what of my money pick, Clement?
[from Novak] Appellate Judge Edith Clement (5th Circuit, New Orleans) was the runner-up to Roberts in the first selection process, but the word in legal circles is that she did not do well in her interview with Bush and now is out of the picture.
That's it. Regardless of qualification, if you fail to display the proper fealty in your meeting with the boy-king, you're toast. And he's proven to be such an excellent judge of character too.