Orthodox Jew tapped to replace Gonzalez

President Bush nominated an Orthodox Jew to be U.S. attorney general.

Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, is a conservative who has criticized Bush administration policies that have kept detainees from consulting with lawyers.

Democrats have praised Mukasey, and his selection represents a shift from Bush’s combative defense of the most recent attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, who resigned last month.

Mukasey’s Jewishness became an issue when a defendant in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing filed a motion to remove the judge, arguing that his allegiances to fellow Jews and Israel would create a bias against Muslim defendants. The motion was dismissed as “utterly irrelevant.”

Mukasey’s wife, Susan, is a former headmistress of the Ramaz Lower School, an Orthodox Jewish school in New York City.

If confirmed, Mukasey would be the second Jewish attorney general. The first, Ed Levi, served under President Ford.

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