[JURIST] With the likely retirement of US Chief Justice William Rehnquist [profile] in the coming weeks, senior White House officials are cutting down their list of candidates and interviewing the final contending federal appeals court judges to replace him. The short list includes Judge J. Michael Luttig [Wikipedia profile], Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. [Wikipedia profile], and Judge John G. Roberts Jr. [profile]. Also included is current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST report] because of President Bush's long and trusted relationship with him, though he would likely meet strong opposition from conservatives who see him as too moderate a replacement for Rehnquist. A White House official, speaking anonymously, said that Bush had been briefed on all the candidates but had yet to make a decision out of respect for Rehnquist, whom some speculate may not step down as soon as expected [JURIST report]. The Chicago-Tribune has more.