Perhaps the person on the short list who confounds conservatives and liberals alike is Judge Edith Brown Clement of the 5th Circuit, who has been on the bench since 2001. To her benefit and detriment, she makes both conservatives and liberals uneasy because she has not written many notable opinions, especially in hot-button areas like abortion and religious freedom.
Two of the most noteworthy opinions written by Clement are in the area of criminal rights and law enforcement. In Traver v. City of Edna, she wrote for a unanimous panel that allowed the plaintiff to sue police officers for violating his due process rights when they slammed his head against a car door during his arrest. In Hearn v. Dretke, a habeas case that involved a death row inmate who claimed mental retardation, she found that he was entitled to a lawyer to help with the claim -- a conclusion, she noted in the opinion, she was forced to reach because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2002 that found executions of the mentally ill were unconstitutional.
If Judge Edith Jones' recent record is any indication, she would be more than willing to disagree with fellow Supreme Court justices on criminal issues -- and perhaps endear herself to law-and-order conservatives. Jones was recently slapped down by the Supreme Court for her decision as part of a three-judge panel that rejected claims by an African-American defendant who alleged the prosecution purposefully excluded blacks from the jury in his capital case in violation of Batson v. Kentucky.
I will withhold my judgment of her for the time being, but on first glance, she might be a decent candidate able to garner support from both sides of the isle. Additonally, she is a Tulane Law grad which means she is obviously brilliant. I will be glad if Bush does name another woman to fill the sport being vacated by retiring O'Connor.
Who Do Conservatives Want for the High Court?
Update: People for the American Way have a write up on some of her decisions. While I don't know all of the facts, the cases they picked do not seem to be terribly atrocious as to shock my senses of good jurisprudence.