Monday, July 11

Alberto Gonzales and Emilio Garza fuel Hispanic expectations

When they look at the current Supreme Court vacancy, Hispanic political leaders see a perfect opportunity for the first-ever Latino justice: a sitting president who has declared his commitment to diversity; a Republican Party eager to build on the gains it made among Latino voters; and a number of high-profile Hispanic candidates -- one of whom is a friend of President Bush.

Expectations are so high, Latino leaders say, they will be deeply disappointed with Bush if he does not select a Hispanic for the vacancy. But if Bush appoints a Latino who is conservative, Democrats and moderate Republicans could feel pressured to go along with the pick, even if they don't agree with the nominee's views. "Folks feel it's our time," said Larry Gonzales, spokesman for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

If another vacancy occurs as anticipated and Bush has the opportunity to name two justices, "it puts the possibility of a Hispanic nominee at 100 percent," he said.