WASHINGTON – President Bush on Wednesday will unveil his first 11 nominees to the Federal bench by introducing them in an extraordinary ceremony at the White House, which officials say is the first event of its kind.
Three of the president's choices are women, three are minorities and two are Democrats — a gesture the president hopes will be seen as a genuine act of bipartisanship that might help avoid nasty confirmation fights.
"The president wants to make this a cooperative, collegial process. That will be his intention, and that's how he will proceed with all his nominations for the bench," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Tuesday.
The nominees include Roger Gregory, a Democrat and an African-American who was nominated by President Clinton but was never confirmed.
White House officials say it is unprecedented for a president to reappoint a failed nominee, particularly one originally named by a president of the opposing party. Officials call the decision "a historic act of bipartisanship."
Barrington D. Parker of Connecticut, another African-American who was first appointed to the bench in 1995 and is another former Clinton choice, will also get the nod from Bush.
Other nominees include:
— John Roberts, first named to the bench by former President Bush.
— Miguel Estrada, who, if confirmed, will become the first Hispanic ever appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a former clerk of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
— Dennis Shedd, a district judge in South Carolina who has the support of key Democrats.
— Terry Boyle, a former aide to Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who has spent the last 17 years on the bench.
— Priscilla Owen, a Texas state Supreme Court justice who served on the court with White House counsel Al Gonzalez.
— Edith Brown Clement of Louisiana, another former President Bush nominee.
— Debra Cook who now serves on the Ohio Supreme Court.
— Jeffrey Sutton, an attorney who has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court and won six of the seven that have been decided.
— Michael McConnell, a widely respected legal scholar who once clerked for Justice William Brennan, one of the court's most revered liberal justices.
Last week several Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee complained they had not been consulted by the White House during the nominating process, an assertion the White House denies. With one exception, the first set of nominees from the Bush White House drew no objections from home-state Democratic Senators. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., objected to Boyle's nomination.
Otherwise, this list of 11 "is clean," one White House official said.
— Fox News' Sharon Kehnemui contributed to this report