Heading into this week, here is how things appear to be shaping up with the judicial nomination process.

The White House is currently debating the type of nominee it wants. Part of this has to do with the filibuster. If the White House choses the standard white guy approach, it increases the likelihood that the filibuster will be used and increases the likelihood the filibuster will be annihilated. At the same time, the White House has several people on its list and is still trying to pare them down.

Most troubling for conservatives, sources close to the White House tell me that while the President is out of the country the White House will be feeling out conservatives of the breath and depth of ramifications should Alberto Gonzales be nominated.

Judge John Roberts’s name has floated towards the top of the list. The President knows Judge Roberts and feels comfortable with him. Also, with several significant cases involving the government headed to the Supreme Court in the next year, one source very close to the White House suggests that Judge Roberts name is being given active consideration. In particular, I’ve been given the following points:

  1. Judge Roberts and the President know each other the President is “comfortable” with him.
  2. The judge sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is therefore very familiar with a host of government related issues that will soon be heading toward the Supreme Court.
  3. Importantly for this White House, Judge Roberts is seen as jurist willing to extend the Executive Branch wide flexibility in both its conduct of general official business and the War on Terror.
  4. The Vice President seems favorable to Judge Roberts given Roberts’s propensity to give the Executive Branch some flexibility (Judge Roberts participated in the In re: Cheney decision, which struck a blow to the environmentalists seeking a list of participants in energy task force meetings).
  5. Judge Roberts is one of the few judges most likely to be very controversial to left wing groups, but be seen as a quality judge by both the public and the seven Democrats who signed the filibuster deal.

Notably, Judge Roberts got out of committee in 2003 on a 16-3 vote, which is very strong. He was confirmed to the Court of Appeals by the Senate on May 8, 2003, after several years of Democrat obstruction, but, once to the floor, made it through without significant Democrat obstruction.

Right now, both lefty activist groups and certain White House staffers are turning their eyes toward John Roberts.