Poll shows support for new female justice
Nearly 80 percent like idea of a woman to replace O'Connor
(CNN) -- Nearly 8 out of 10 respondents to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said they liked the idea that a woman replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Thirteen percent said it was "essential" that another woman replace O'Connor, who announced her resignation plans earlier this month; 65 percent said they felt it was a "good idea but not essential."
Nineteen percent said the gender of the next justice doesn't matter to them; 2 percent said it was a "bad idea" for a woman to get the seat; 1 percent had no opinion.
The poll interviewed 1,006 adult Americans via telephone July 7-10. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Asked about the prospects of a Hispanic on the Supreme Court, 63 percent said it would be a "good idea but not essential." Twenty-seven percent said it doesn't matter to them.
Four percent said it was "essential" for a Hispanic to get picked, while another 4 percent said it was a "bad idea." Two percent expressed no opinion.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, has been mentioned as a possible nominee. (Related story.)
O'Connor -- a Reagan appointee who became the first woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court -- announced on July 1 her plans to resign when her successor is confirmed. (Related story.)
President Bush said Wednesday that first lady Laura Bush "gave me some good advice yesterday, which is to consider women -- which, of course, I'm doing."
Bush said it was not clear how soon he may begin interviews with potential Supreme Court nominees.
"I'm not exactly sure when that process will begin, in terms of the interviews. And probably if I knew, I wouldn't tell you," he told reporters at the White House.
He said he would come up with a nominee "in a period of time that will give me time to fully analyze the different candidates and speak to them."
With the departure of O'Connor, a major lobbying initiative has been launched by groups for and against abortion rights. O'Connor, 75, has consistently sided with women's rights in her 24 years on the bench. (Related story.)
In the latest poll, the majority of the respondents, 54 percent, said lobbying campaigns by conservative and liberal groups are harmful to getting the best person on the court. Thirty-nine percent said the lobbying was helpful. Seven percent had no opinion.
An overwhelming majority also said they do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion -- a result consistent with other recent polls on the issue.
Of 489 people asked, nearly 7 out of 10 -- or 68 percent -- said they do not want the high court to "completely overturn" Roe v. Wade, compared to 29 percent who said they did. Three percent said they had no opinion.
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