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Supreme Court Vacancy: Obama Consults Dem, GOP Leaders -- Again

3 years ago
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President Obama met Wednesday with Democratic and Republican Senate leaders amid signs the White House is moving quickly on finding a successor to Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring in June.

It was the second time Obama and Vice President Biden have met with the bipartisan group since Stevens announced his departure on April 9. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) were on the invite list, along with Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Obama wants to get his nominee confirmed by the Senate before the start of the high court's fall term.

Prior to the meeting, in answer to a reporter's question about whether he was willing to nominate someone who didn't support abortion rights, Obama said he would not apply a "litmus test around any issues." "I will say that I want somebody who is interpreting the Constitution in a way that will take into account individual rights, and that includes women's rights."

The White House has been mum on any short list for the vacancy, but Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and federal judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland lead the speculation. Former President Bill Clinton, among others, has suggested that Obama nominate an individual, such as Napolitano, who is not a sitting judge or officer of the court. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm would also fill that bill.

Obama isn't saying much at this point -- "We've got some terrific potential candidates," he told reporters.

On Tuesday he sent birthday greeting to Stevens, who turned 90, joining Oliver Wendell Holmes as the only justices to serve past their 90th birthdays.

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