[JURIST] In an interview with USA Today, President Bush Monday called for special-interest groups to "tone down the heated rhetoric" [interview excerpts] over the new US Supreme Court vacancy created by Friday's retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor [JURIST report] and focus on the "credentials and philosophy" of potential nominees. Bush objected in particular to criticism from both conservatives and liberals about the possible nomination of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [Wikipedia profile], calling him a "great friend" and saying "when a friend gets attacked, I don't like it." Gonzales has been targeted by conservative groups opposed to his pro-abortion stances and by liberal groups opposed to his support for the Patriot Act and apparent ambivalence about torture and the Geneva Conventions. Bush has not yet announced a nominee to replace O'Connor, but he has said he wants a succesor in place when the Court's new term begins in October. USA Today has more.