CLARENCE THOMAS: ROUND ONE
When Justice Thurgood Marshall decided to retire, President Bush instructed his staff to compile a list of possible nominees and, more specifically, to include the names of those who had been finalists in the selection process a year earlier. This meant that Edith Jones would be on the list, as would Laurence Silberman. But, from the beginning, Bush leaned toward nominating Judge Clarence Thomas of the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia.
After a preliminary list of about a dozen prospects had been compiled, Bush asked the staff to concentrate on "non-traditional" candidates. The list was then pared down to Emilio M. Garza, an Hispanic judge on the court of appeals, and Clarence Thomas. Chief of staff John Sununu reportedly favored Garza. Sununu thought that the appointment of Garza would help Republicans win a greater percentage of the Hispanic vote but that the appointment of Thomas would not help with the black vote. 1 On the other hand, C. Boyden Gray, Bush's chief legal adviser, supported Thomas with an almost fanatical fervor. Gray, who was quite influential in the Bush White House, believed that Thomas would be a strong conservative voice on the Court 2
For a number of reasons, President Bush followed his initial instincts and nominated Clarence Thomas. First, Bush believed that Thomas was the most conservative of the candidates under consideration.3 Thomas's appointment would therefore enable the president to satisfy the right wing of his party, for whom abortion and Supreme Court appointments were all important. Second, Bush believed that it would be easier for a conservative African-American to gain confirmation than it would be for some other conservative. Senators who had voted to confirm nominees