Sen. Orrin Hatch says he spoke with President Obama, who “assured me that he would not be picking a radical or an extremist for the court that he was very pragmatic in his approach and that he would pick somebody who would abide by the rule of law.” Hatch also speculates that the White House could announce its nominee as soon as this week.

Following Arlen Specter’s defection, Sen. Jeff Session has been chosen to take over his position as ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committe in a move that is being welcomed by right-wing groups:

“He is someone who has a tremendous amount of experience with legal policy issues that the committee has to involve itself in,” said Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers … Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, expects changes under Sessions.

“I assume he will bring in some conservative staff,” said Sekulow. He called Sessions’ elevation on the committee “good for Republicans.”

Phyllis Schlafly has now gotten around to weighing in with her latest column, accusing Souter of flipping “from presumed conservative to liberal as soon as the media began ridiculing him” and attacking President Obama and several of his nominees, including David Hamilton:

We would also like to know if Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is cut from the same cloth as his first judicial nomination, David F. Hamilton. He’s a former fundraiser for ACORN and a former leader of the Indiana chapter of the ACLU.

Ed Whelan starts the opposition research, announcing “one [possible nominee] whose candidacy I take seriously and whom I have previously written very little about is Seventh Circuit judge Diane P. Wood. I will address her record in this and subsequent posts” and concludes that “her course of conduct signals the dangers of judicial lawlessness that inhere in Obama’s badly misguided standard for judging.”