[JURIST] In his first in-person consultation with Senator leaders on his upcoming nomination of a replacement for retiring US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor [JURIST report], President Bush met Tuesday with Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), ranking Judiciary Democrat Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). He did not, however, hint at who he might actually pick. All four called the meeting a positive step. Bush reiterated his desire to see a new Justice on the bench by the start of the new term in October, which would require a nomination soon and perhaps a special August session of the Senate. Senator Leahy has issued a press release. AP has more.
4:35 PM ET – Later press reports say that at the morning meeting Senators Specter and Leahy encouraged the President to appoint someone other than a judge to the Supreme Court slot. Specter said afterwards of such candidates, "If they had a little more practical experience and didn't work so much within the footnotes and the semicolons, you might have a little different perspective, and I'd like to see that added to the court." Democrats also suggested a number of possible Hispanic moderates – Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Ed Prado of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and US District Court Judge Ricardo Hinojosa. Meanwhile, First Lady Laura Bush said during an interview during a visit to South Africa that she would like to see a women taking the place of retiting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. AP has more.