An anonymous source has told Reuters that the White House is in the process of vetting five federal judges as potential nominees to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia.
The following are the only candidates currently under consideration:
- Merrick Garland – Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit.
- Sri Srinivasan – Judge on U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit.
- Paul Watford – Judge on U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
- Jane Kelly – Judge on U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.
- Ketanji Brown Jackson – Judge for U.S. District Court, D.C.
All of the aforementioned were appointed by President Obama except Chief Judge Garland, who was nominated by Bill Clinton and confirmed in March 1997.
Garland, Srinivinsan, and Watford are considered to be Obama’s top three choices, according to NPR.
Garland has the longest judicial record, but is considered to employ a moderate-liberal ideology and enjoys bi-partisan support in the Senate.
Srinivasan — born in India — worked in both George W. Bush’s and President Obama’s solicitor general’s office and has only a three year record on the bench.
Watford is known as a “smart and careful jurist”, and would be the third African-American U.S. Supreme Court Justice of all-time.
Two more rumored Supreme Court replacements withdrew their names from consideration this week — District Court Judge for the Southern Florida, Adalberto Jordan, and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Speculation about any potential Supreme Court appointee may be considered irrelevant given Senate Republicans’ pledge to block any of Obama’s picks in 2016, however.
On Thursday, Politico reported that Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) privately shared a four-page memo with the Republican Conference that refers to an internal poll showing public support for the GOP’s obstructionist strategy.
According to the poll, which apparently surveyed 600 “likely” voters in late-February, 53 percent of independents were more concerned about another liberal justice being appointed to the Court than the seat remaining vacant for a year.
The same privately commissioned survey found that 56 percent of respondents favor an “originalist” approach to interpreting the Constitution, which Justice Scalia invoked.
These internal survey results may be taken with a proverbial grain of salt however, given the source. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken around the same time found that 55 percent of the public disagreed with Senate leadership’s plan to block any Obama nominee.
A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll similarly found that 56 percent of Americans want President Obama to select the next Supreme Court justice, while only 40 percent favor leaving the seat vacant until the next chief executive takes office in January 2017.
[Reuters] [NPR] [CNN] [Politico]