USA Today has taken to the streets to find that what the Supreme Court needs most is a Hispanic woman:

“’A Hispanic woman,’ [Phil] Estis, a 53-year-old management analyst with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, suggested without hesitation as he paused across the street from the state Capitol here. ’Men have had a chance to run the government for years.”

“Despite divisions on ideology, most Americans agree with Estis. The latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll, taken July 7-10, showed overwhelming support for putting another woman on the court. Three of four favored appointing a woman to replace Sandra Day O?Connor, the first woman to serve on the high court.

“Two-thirds of those surveyed liked the idea of naming the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court, too.

“And an equal number didn?t want Roe v. Wade, the decision recognizing abortion rights, overturned by the court.

“Justices aren?t elected, of course, and Bush is free to ignore public opinion when he makes his choice. But he told reporters Wednesday he was open to suggestions that his search be sweeping. ’You bet, we?re considering all kinds of people — judges, non-judges,? he said. He said Laura Bush, who told reporters she?d like a woman named, had given him ?some good advice … which is to consider women, which, of course, I?m doing.?”

All of this leads Powerline to wonder if all this consulting isn?t getting out of hand. In addition to which, Powerline notes:

“A Hispanic woman may be just about the only category of human being President Bush can?t come up with. The article quotes a political scientist who says, ’The pressure we see going on here I haven?t seen before.’ I agree. But President Bush opened himself up to the pressure by encouraging input and, to some degree, carrying out his deliberations in public.

“The poll results [cited by USA TODAY] contain something for everyone. An astonishing 86% of respondents said that the Senate Democrats are ?likely to try to block Bush?s nominee for inappropriate political reasons.? On the other hand, nearly two-thirds said that Bush is ?likely to appoint someone who would let religious beliefs inappropriately influence legal decisions.? (Maybe we should amend the headline to say that Americans want Bush to appoint a female Hispanic atheist, narrowing the pool still further.) These numbers are consistent with what seems to be an emerging trend: the Democrats? vicious and unprincipled attacks on the President do, indeed, have an impact; but they hurt the Democrats even more than the Republicans.”

“Mr. President, they must think you?re head of programming at CBS,” writes David Brooks in this morning?s New York Times. “Some people are telling you to name a Hispanic as your first Supreme Court nominee. Others say, Pick a woman. Harry Reid says, Pick someone who?s not too controversial. Arlen Specter says, Look outside the judiciary for a fresh face.”

Brooks has a better idea: Pick a genius.

“Nobody will care about superficial first impressions or identity politics tokenism a few years from now,” he writes. “What will matter in decades to come is whether you picked a philosophical powerhouse. Did you pick someone capable of writing the sort of bold and meaty opinions that will shift the frame of debate and shake up law students for generations?

“If you can find a philosophical powerhouse who is also a member of a minority or a woman (like, say, Mary Ann Glendon), so much the better, but picking a powerhouse matters most.”

(Brooks? powerhouse, by the way, is Michael McConnell. Read the whole piece to learn why.)