Nine Supreme Court shortlisters for Romney

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General

Born 1966. Considered by many as one of the best lawyers of his generation. The Wisconsin native went to Harvard Law School where he was a classmate of President Barack Obama, and later clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia. He served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush and earned raves for his persuasive, conservational style at oral arguments. Now a private attorney, he has become the go-to guy among conservatives to lead appeals on a variety of hot-button issues: health care reform, same-sex marriage, immigration enforcement, and gun rights. He personally argued seven cases in the 2011 term, including the health care petitions. He has been strategically coy about his chances for the high court, saying he would be honored but remains focused on his law practice.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

Born 1965. Began his job May 2006 in a court that has seen several of its former members make the jump to the Supreme Court. A former top official in the George W. Bush White House. His nomination to a federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit was held up for three years by Democrats. Senators Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin later accused Kavanaugh of misleading the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation over whether he helped formulate policy on the detention and questioning of accused terrorists held overseas by the U.S. military. He is relatively young and considered one of the brightest conservative legal minds. He co-authored the Starr Report investigation of President Bill Clinton and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and conservative appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski.