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MERRILLVILLE | Merrillville native Maureen Mahoney's name being considered as a U.S. Supreme Court nominee doesn't surprise her mother, Marian Mahoney.

"I talk to my daughter or e-mail her every day. I've known for some time," said Marian Mahoney in regard to her 51-year-old daughter being mentioned as a potential nominee.

Maureen Mahoney confirmed Friday she is a potential nominee, but she said she can't talk about the process leading up to her accepting the nomination.

"I already have a dream job, but it's extremely flattering to be considered," she said.

She said she has been compared to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts because they are both from Northwest Indiana and had worked as a clerk for late Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

Parents Marian and James Mahoney live in the same Merrillville home they moved to in 1961. James Mahoney, who is retired, was a lawyer with the Saul I. Ruman law firm of Hammond.

Maureen Mahoney is the third of their four children.

"Maureen was born in South Bend while her dad was attending law school at Notre Dame. She went to school there through first grade," she said.

News of the possibility Maureen might be considered for a post on the nation's high court leaked out last weekend in The New York Times and The Washington Post, Marian Mahoney said.

"She's very, very capable. She's very bright, wonderful and compassionate. I'm proud of her. It's wonderful she's being considered," she said.

Maureen Mahoney, who is a partner in the Washington, D.C.-based law office of Latham and Watkins, knew early on she wanted to follow in her dad's legal footsteps, her mom said.

"She wanted to be a lawyer since she was 9 or 10. Furthermore, she married a lawyer," Marian Mahoney said.

Maureen Mahoney is married to William Crispin, and the couple have two children: Brad, a senior at Dartmouth College, and Abigail, a junior at Bates College.

Marian Mahoney suggests her daughter would be an excellent Supreme Court justice because she is intelligent and compassionate.

"She has also tried 13 cases (before) the Supreme Court, one of which I heard and was very impressed. It's one of the highlights of my 80 years," she said.

"She's like any other Supreme Court clerk," said Indiana University law professor Craig Bradley, who, like Mahoney and Roberts, also clerked for Rehnquist. "She's very smart and probably very capable of filling that role (as justice)."

Mahoney "clearly is well-qualified," something that nominee Harriet Miers, who has withdrawn her nomination, was not, Bradley said.

"(Mahoney) was a Supreme Court clerk, she is an accomplished Supreme Court advocate, and she works for a top national law firm," he said.

Bradley expects that Mahoney would be more successful than Miers was in her bid for confirmation. Miers, Bradley said, "kind of flopped" when she met with senators in one-on-one sessions, and her claim that she withdrew to protect executive privilege was "a smokescreen."

Mahoney, like Miers, has no prior judicial experience. But Bradley said that should not hinder her chances, noting that several good Supreme Court justices -- including Rehnquist -- had not been judges before joining the court.

Bradley added that he expects the next nominee for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's spot to resemble Roberts, "which lends some credibility to the Mahoney rumor."

"In the broadest strokes, she resembles Roberts," Bradley said. "I'm sure that once more comes out, the differences will emerge, but I personally don't know what they are."

Bradley, however, expressed skepticism about Mahoney's ability to satisfy the hard-right of the Republican Party, which loudly disapproved of Miers' nomination.

"I seriously doubt that she has published anti-Roe v. Wade views, for example," Bradley said.

Perhaps a bigger problem might be Mahoney's role in a landmark affirmative action case she argued before the Supreme Court in 2004.

Mahoney was widely lauded for her representation of the University of Michigan, which won the case, upholding the constitutionality of considering race as a factor for admission.

"I would think that might make her unacceptable to a lot of conservatives," Bradley said. "But, like Roberts, the fact that she represented a client does not mean she holds those personal views."

U.S. Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., Dick Lugar, R-Ind., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., declined to comment on Mahoney's possible nomination until a nominee is officially named.

"There was always a certain quality that was different than others," Marian Mahoney said.

"She was a delightful child who had many friends and grew up to be a delightful adult. She was always the star."

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