Gonzales Tapped for U.S. Attorney General

Rhett Pardon
WASHINGTON — President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to reports.

Gonzales, who has been considered by Bush as a potential U.S. Supreme Court justice, and the former attorney general are polar opposites. Gonzales has tried to keep his name out of the headlines while Ashcroft seemed always ready for a fight.

Gonzales, 49, was commissioned as counsel to Bush in 2001. Prior to serving in the White House, he served as a Texas Supreme Court justice. Before his appointment to the Texas high court in 1999, he served as Texas’ secretary of state for two years and was a senior advisor to then Gov. Bush.

In his 23-month stint as a state Supreme Court justice, Gonzales was considered by some court observers to represent a moderating influence on a generally conservative bench.

Others saw Gonzales as a fit for the conservative faction of the court, particularly on business-related cases. In one case, Gonzales sided with the majority as the Texas high court overturned a lower-court ruling allowing class-action suits by car owners against the Ford Motor Co. to proceed.

But some observers say his social views are too permissive.

Gonzales sided with the majority in a Texas high court decision allowing some minors to have abortions without notifying their parents.

“The public may be aware of our rulings on parental notification,” Gonzales told the Houston Chronicle. “But they don’t pay that much attention otherwise. They don’t know how much influence the court has on their daily lives.”

Before joining the governor's staff, he was a partner with the law firm of Houston-based Vinson & Elkins LLP, which represented the scandal-ridden energy giant Enron.

Gonzales was born in San Antonio, Texas, and raised in Houston. He is a graduate of Rice University and Harvard Law School. He served in the Air Force between 1973 and 1975, and attended the Air Force Academy between 1975 and 1977. He is married and has three sons.