Obviously, pretty much every lawyer/judge close to the President is being mentioned for the opening and as always, I expect the President to pick someone a little unexpected. A woman, maybe. A minority, who knows? Will he allow those quota considerations to cloud his judgement, almost certainly not. Has the left given him any credit for his appointments of minorities to cabinet level positions, of course not. They have ridiculed Condi and Colin as Uncle Tom's and other disgustingly derogatory terms so I would expect Janice Rodgers Brown to get the same treatment should she be nominated. She may be dark skinned but since she has different opinions than Eugene Kane, she just aint black enough.
Bench Memos over at NRO has some solid coverage, including a nice little essay here.
If this interpretation is correct — that the President made his decision to appoint Justice O'Connor's replacement based solely on merit and judicial philosophy in the long-term best interests of the nation — then it seems reasonable to suppose that he will make the same decision the same way the second time around. Nothing says this will point him to another white male, as the short list of the country's best available conservatives surely includes women and minorities, but it means the white males won't be categorically excluded from consideration either.
If that's so, here are a couple of new names to keep your eye on as dark horse candidates if the President tries to replicate the Roberts model: Steve Colloton, a judge on the Eighth Circuit, and Jeff Sutton, a Judge on the Sixth Circuit. Both are brilliant former Supreme Court clerks; both have long records of public service, Colloton primarily as a prosecutor and Sutton primarily as a Supreme Court and appellate advocate; both are widely respected, right to left, with plenty of supporters among Democrats of good faith; both are supported by influential home-state Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee; both are young men in their mid-40s; and both were originally appointed by this President and thus are seen as part of the Bush judicial "family." Some controversy attended Judge Sutton's confirmation, because he is closely identified based on his work as an advocate with the Supreme Court's new federalism jurisprudence. Colloton sailed to confirmation with no problems at all. Whether their time is now or in a future Republican administration, they're worth adding to the evolving lists of credible candidates
Personally, I can't wait! Football season and SCOTUS season! Honestly it is almost too much to comprehend.