Senate Leaders: Supreme Court Pick "Sometime Soon"

(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
There is no shortage of speculation over not only who President Obama will nominate to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter, but also when the announcement will be made. Yet, the White House and Senate Judiciary Committee members remain coy.

This morning, the president met with key members of the Senate, who will be influential in vetting and voting on the future nominee at the White House.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after his meeting with the president that he expects a nominee "sometime soon."

He added that the process from nomination to confirmation takes about sixty days unless the prospect is particularly "controversial," so the vote should happen before October.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the newly appointed ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said they had a "nice generalized discussion" with the president and that he hopes for a "unifying nominee" that all committee members can support.

Sessions noted that as a senator, Mr. Obama voted against Bush appointees Samuel Alito and John Roberts but "he did not obstruct or say mean things about them."

"There should not be any perception of ramming this through on some artificial deadlines," Sessions said noting that his committee needs time to prepare for hearings.

Sessions added that Mr. Obama told them that the decision, "wasn't imminent, in a few days" and that "no names" were mentioned in the meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Marry Reid said that they will "do the best" they can for a speedy confirmation though he noted that the Justice Committee is the busiest in the senate.

Meanwhile, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-V Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters after the meeting that, "the Republicans know that a nominee by President Obama is not a nominee by a President Bush, or if it had been a President McCain."

During his press conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that there will be a new justice in place before the court reconvenes for "fresh business" in October 2009. He also addressed speculation in the media over who might be the pick.

"The president does take some heart in knowing that in all of the lists that have been seen and produced, there hasn't yet been one produced with the totality of name by which -- under which are being considered," he half gloated.

In an op-ed for CBSnews.com this morning, Leahy recounted the significance of Supreme Court decisions and said, "politics and ideological agendas have no place on the nation's highest court, or anywhere in our federal judiciary."

"Activist judges - from the right or the left - who substitute their judgment for that which is written in our national charter and in our nation's laws undermine the protections for ordinary Americans provided in our Constitution," Leahy wrote.
  • Michelle Levi

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