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Orrin Hatch Names Hillary Clinton as Possible Supreme Court Nominee

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET with White House reponse.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, one of the top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday morning that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been mentioned as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court.

"I even heard the name Hillary Clinton today, and that would be an interesting person in the mix," Hatch said on NBC's "Today Show."

The senator said he would not pre-judge whether any potential nominee would be an appropriate candidate to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, but he had general praise for the secretary of state.

"I happen to like Hillary Clinton, I think she's done agood job for the Democrats -- Secretary of State's position," Hatch said, "and I have high respect for her, and think a great deal of her."

Hatch said the confirmation process for President Obama's nominee could go smoothly.

"If the president picks somebody who is clearly qualified, there is no question we can get that person through in a relatively short period of time," he said. "On the other hand, if he picks an activist judge... we ought to do everything in our power to defeat that person."

The short list of potential nominees is said to include Federal Appellate Judge Diane Wood, Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Federal Judge Merrick Garland.

UPDATE: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put the speculation to rest today, saying, "The president is going to keep [Clinton] as his secretary of state."

More Coverage of John Paul Stevens' Retirement:

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Retiring
Jan Crawford: Obama Wants No Fight Over Supreme Court Pick
The Fight for Stevens' Spot
Justice Stevens' Legacy: Fiercely Independent
Obama Praises John Paul Stevens, Seeks Nominee With Similar Qualities
Obama on Justice Stevens' Retirement
A Historical Look Back at Stevens
Kagan, Wood, Head List of Likely Court Nominees
Who Will Replace Justice Stevens?
Republicans Prepare for Supreme Court Battle

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