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President looking to quickly fill vacant judgeships

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, his political advisers and White House lawyers are hastily reviewing potential judicial nominees, hoping to put a conservative stamp on the federal bench while the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

A committee of senior administration officials, chaired by White House counsel Al Gonzales, has interviewed more than 50 candidates in a bid to fill nearly 100 vacancies with judges who share Bush's conservative philosophy.

"We're looking for people who believe in judicial restraint, who don't believe in legislating from the bench," Gonzales said.

Legal analysts say the judge-picking process, put in place by Gonzales weeks before Bush took office, may be the most organized early-term effort to impact the federal judiciary since Ronald Reagan's first days in office.