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Californian Reported High on Court List

October 28, 1987|DAVID LAUTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — White House officials hope to present President Reagan with a short list of potential Supreme Court nominees today or Thursday, and California federal appeals court Judge Anthony M. Kennedy is expected to be prominently featured, Administration and Senate sources said Tuesday.

But efforts to complete the selection process this week have been complicated by infighting within the Administration, conflicting advice from senators whose opinions have been solicited during the last two days and other pressures on Reagan and his senior advisers.

Also demanding their attention are the negotiations over the economy and such personal matters as the recent deaths of Nancy Reagan's mother and Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III's grandson.

Administration officials had hoped that Reagan would be able Thursday to announce a nominee for the court, which has been short one justice since June 26 when Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. retired. But the process now "appears to be somewhat jumbled," said a Senate Judiciary Committee source familiar with the meetings between senators and White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr.

'Nothing Magic'

"There's nothing magic about Thursday. There's nothing magic about this week," Baker said before meeting Tuesday morning with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.). But, he added, "the calendar will overwhelm us," if a nominee is not named soon.

Administration officials would like to see a new nominee confirmed before the beginning of the election year. Already--because of the amount of time needed for FBI background checks and other routine procedures--the chances of a confirmation being completed this year are slim, both Democratic and Republican Senate aides said.

The calendar has imposed a premium on finding a nominee who will go through the Senate with minimal problems, Administration officials said. "Right now there are three things people here are interested in--quality, judicial philosophy and confirmability," one White House aide said. "No one wants to go through a second defeat."

Baker began the week with a list of 13 candidates who had been reviewed over the weekend, but nearly all of them have encountered opposition from some quarter. And new candidates, including some whose names have not yet been made public, now are being considered, Senate sources said. The list includes roughly a half dozen names, said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sacramento Resident

Kennedy, 51, a lifetime resident of Sacramento, is one of the few names on the list that so far has drawn no major objections. As a long-time Republican lobbyist in the state capital, he is well known to Reagan and a friend of Meese. President Gerald R. Ford appointed him to the federal appeals court in 1975.

In 1973, Reagan as governor called on Kennedy to help draft his highly touted but unsuccessful Proposition One, a ballot initiative that would have placed a constitutional limit on state expenditures based on total personal income of California residents.

Criticism of Another

Another potential candidate who has drawn wide support is appeals court Judge Ralph K. Winter Jr. of New Haven, Conn. The only controversy that has surfaced so far about him are articles he has written that criticize federal laws barring employment discrimination on the grounds that they are largely ineffective in improving the economic conditions of minority group members.

But controversy over Winter's civil rights views could be muted because of an important endorsement he has received: Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the court's only black member, praised Winter, a former clerk of his, at a clerks' reunion over the weekend and has told friends that he would like to see Winter on the court.

Two other potential candidates who so far have drawn no major opposition are New Hampshire state Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the federal appeals court in Washington.

Times staff writers James Gerstenzang in Washington and Leo C. Wolinsky in Sacramento contributed to this story.

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