I've started reading Jan Greenburg's much praised Supreme Conflict. As she describes the nomination of David Souter to the Supreme Court, President Bush didn't decide to nominate him until just before he announced the decision publicly. This conflicts with the little inside knowledge I have. At the time, I was acutely interested in who the Supreme Court nominee would be. I was in between my second and third years of Yale Law School, and was scheduled to clerk for then-Judge Clarence Thomas on the D.C. Circuit, who was rumored to be under consideration, along with Edith Jones. On Saturday night after Justice Brennan resigned, I spoke to a very well-connected friend and classmate, who called to tell me, "it's going to be Souter." I responded, of course, "who"???? And next, "are you sure?" he was sure. The Souter nomination was announced on Monday.
I don't know where my classmate got this information, but it certainly turned out to be correct. Even if the decision wasn't 100% final when he imparted this information to me, it seems to have been a lot more certain than Greenburg makes it out to be in her account. According to Greenburg, Bush interviewed both Jones and Souter that Monday morning, before making his final decision. Combining what I heard from my classmate with Greenburg's account, it seems to me like the decision had already been made, so long as Souter didn't completely blow his interview with the president, with Jones waiting in the wings just in case.