May 22nd, 2009
06:14 PM ET
14 years ago

First on The CNN Ticker: Obama court pick may come next week

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The President may name his pick to replace Justice Souter as soon as Tuesday."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top aide to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy told fellow Democrats on Friday to get ready for President Obama's Supreme Court pick to come as early as next week, according to an e-mail obtained by CNN.

"It is possible the President will designate his nominee to the Supreme Court as early as next Tuesday or some time next week," Jeremy Paris, Leahy's chief counsel for nominations, wrote in the e-mail to fellow Democratic aides.

The Judiciary panel will handle the nomination process for whomever Obama picks to replace retiring Justice David Souter, and three senior Obama administration officials confirmed to CNN that the latest thinking at the White House is the president could make the pick as early as next week.

The White House's new point person for managing the process for the eventual nominee, Stephanie Cutter, was also spotted in the West Wing on Friday afternoon meeting with other aides, a sign the administration could be edging closer to announcing the pick.

But the three senior administration officials said flatly the president has not yet settled on his pick, and they noted this weekend would be pivotal in the decision-making process. "He's mulling it over," one top aide said of the final stages of the process.

Top officials say it is unlikely the president will announce the pick at a prime-time event, as then-President Bush did when he nominated John Roberts to be Chief Justice.

The President is spending Memorial Day weekend at Camp David, a remote location conducive to contemplation. Camp David could also be a location for last-minute one-on-one meetings with potential court nominees that can be kept secret because the media has no access to the grounds.

The senior administration officials cautioned it is still possible the Supreme Court announcement could slip into early or mid-June if the President does not make up his mind over the course of the next few days.

Obama is under some pressure, however, to announce the pick before he leaves Washington on June 3 for a foreign trip that will take him to Egypt, France, and Germany because he needs to get the confirmation process started because the Senate takes the month of August off for recess. While Obama aides are hoping to get confirmation hearings started in July, there are many possible delays that could push the hearings into September, which could put confirmation before the first Monday in October in some peril.

Senate Judiciary spokeswoman Erica Chabot acknowledged to CNN "the rumors are flying fast and furious" that next week is possible for an announcement, but stressed that Paris' e-mail is not a sign that the panel knows the timing for sure. "We just don't have an indication of when this is going to happen," said Chabot.

Chabot noted the committee is just getting Senate Democrats ready with talking points and other background material for the inevitable announcement. "The committee will begin the process once that happens," she said of Obama's eventual public announcement.

Sources close to the selection process tell CNN most of the major vetting has been done and the process is pretty far along, farther than the White House may be letting on. All of the dozen or so major candidates under consideration have had at least initial vetting and most of the top-tier candidates - a half dozen or so - have been fully vetted.

The sources close to the process say Obama has been carefully reading the research material provided by the small group of staffers coordinating the search, and has asked a lot of questions and asked for more material in some cases. The sources added Obama has had at least one formal meeting, sitting down this week with federal appeals court judge Diane Wood of Chicago. He also spoke briefly in private with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but sources say the meeting was not substantive.

–CNN Supreme Court Producer William Mears and Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger contributed to this report.

Filed under: President Obama • Supreme Court
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Bobby

    Quota for Appointment of Supreme Court Justices:

    White: 3
    Black: 2
    Women: 2
    Hispanics: 1
    Asian American: 1
    Gay: 1
    Republican: 3
    Democrat: 3
    Merit: 0

    May 22, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Without even knowing who the pick will be, the Republicans have already declared it to be unacceptable. The confirmation process should be entertaining, although I don't think it will match the whole Anita Hill, coke can, pubic hair thing we went through several years back.........that would be hard to top.

    May 22, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  3. NVa Native

    I can't wait to see who Obama will nominate. I'm sure it will be an over qualified, extremely experienced and intelligent person that will make the radical Repubs go freakin' nuts – it will be priceless!
    Boner and Beck will start crying, the Dick will snarl and gnash his fangs, Limpball will bounce and jiggle all over his mic, and the inSanity and O'Really twins will spew false indignation hour upon hour – let the circus begin!

    May 22, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. The Broker.

    All this talk. All this double-talk. Who said what?

    May 22, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. Patriot

    I guess his pick will be a Iranian Muslim who adheres to Shiria law and hates the U.S.A.

    May 22, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. obambi

    pointless to care–its clear it will be socialistic

    May 22, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Lisa

    i think Obama should appoint Michelle Obama. She's a woman, she's black, she's a lawyer, she is obviously wicked smart and she's down to earth. Too bad that could never happen.

    May 22, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Mad Dog

    I personally hope that Obama picks the opposite of Roberts and Alito....that would be fair. Of course we all know the GOP is never concerned about fair....just right wing nutjobs.

    Obama should pick who he wants and it won't matter because I guarantee that whover it is will not be good enough for the conservatives.

    Who cares they had their turn now it is Obama's....and there is nothing that the right wing pundits can do about it.

    May 22, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. Gary

    moderate please – – no one too liberal or too conservative.

    May 22, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. malclave

    I wonder if Democrats would think it's perfectly all right for Republicans to try to filibuster Obama's nominee, the way the Democrats did with Bush's?

    Naw, that's silly. Democrats would never tolerate being held to the same standards which they apply to others.

    May 22, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  11. Hammer

    If Obama making a choice for the Supreme Court does not scare you,just look at the choices he has made for the lesser positions,Biden for VP, Geithner for assistant Sec. of Treasury (Emmanual is running the show), Holder (represented the terroist at GITMO) are the worst of the lot, most are tax cheats and all have questionable backgrounds. Looking at his past America is in for a real character on this choice>

    May 22, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. Dawn

    Picking a supreme court justice is one of the most important job any president can do, because they are there for their entire life. so why would he mess this up, and of course the Republicans can and will do everything in there power to get a neo-con on the bench, it should always be equal

    May 22, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Scott


    Quota on his comment:

    Racist: 1
    Sexist: 1
    Homophobic: 1
    Intelligent: 0

    May 22, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  14. No Incumbents 2010

    Count on the Repukes to turn the confirmation into a partisan food fight. As usual, the adhominems will be vicious and personal, and have nothing to do with legal qualifications, substance or even the truth.

    May 22, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  15. Shirley In California

    Well, this Supreme Court decision has certainly gotten me upset with Obama. Again, I'll say it should be a qualified Hispanic woman. I just don't appreciate the fact Obama NEVER considered (at least its not being reported) interviewing a black woman. He received 92% black vote. Maybe this means nothing to him anymore but he will certainly need our vote again. I feel insulted and passed over. Please don't think I regret voting for and supporting him because he is still the best person for the job right now and McCain/palin were simply disgusting and disgraceful. I have placed Obama on the fence now and I will NOT forget this-the next time around.

    Preliminary congratulations to the Hispanic community. I'm glad you got your chance.

    May 22, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  16. Ryan in MN

    It will most likely be some shady character. Why? Because Obama himself is the shadiest of all characters.

    May 22, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  17. Scott

    Wow, what great journalism! You said two weeks ago that we would know as early as Monday of the following week. Now it's "as early as next week?" I won't be holding my breath.

    May 22, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. Jon in CA

    Hola Senior Obama,

    I can't imagine who ju are considering for dis job. Holy fritos will we all be shocked if ju pick a hispanic chica!

    May 22, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. Republicans are the American Taliban

    NEWS FLASH!!! Something might happen next week...if it does we will be there ti distort with fake headlines. Republicans throughout congress are getting the NO keys on their computers tuned up ...

    May 22, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. sylhines

    Since W did not replace O'Connor with a female justice there will be additional pressure on Obama to name a woman. The Hispanic theme is credible in many ways and such a appointment to address those tandem concerns would be welcome. The good part of this decision is the breath of quality applicants who are women. So, I look toward a hispanic/women nominee to address those imblances. From my perspective the best choice from a unusual deep field of qualified applicants is Sullivan the former Dean of Stanford U and Kagan the solicitor general. If an hispanic is chosen then there is time to continue to make the court reflective of the country by appointing a third women then. The imbalance on the court has gone unadressed too long. Justice and common sense dictate a female nominee

    May 22, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  21. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    We need a federal law that the US Supreme Court represent ALL Americans, not just males.

    That means the Court should be made up of over 50 percent women (women make up 53% of the population in America).

    Look at this photo. All guys except one woman.

    How can they represent females? Especially regarding abortion rights?

    Notice when you see a march against abortion rights that there are usually more men than women in the march.

    Wonder why?

    May 22, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  22. Res ipsa loquitur

    Yep, Bobby, you're right–front-runners Diane Wood, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan have no merit whatsoever. Why would Obama ever consider one of the most intellectually rigorous, yet polite, judges of the Seventh Circuit; a self-made judge from arguably the most well-respected circuit, the Second, in the country; or an accomplished and young professional whose job is to argue cases in front of the Supreme Court?

    Here's a challenge for all you ignorant hacks who decry the lack of "merit" in Obama's front-runners–pick an appeals judge and explain coherently to me why he or she has more "merit" than Diane Wood (my personal favorite). Maybe then I'll take you seriously.

    May 22, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  23. prosanto, Phoenix

    The candidate should be well qualified with good experience and pragmatic. The candidate's gender and race should not matter,except politically.

    May 22, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. Peter E

    I would really like the media to stop speculating about the race/gender, etc. of the SCOTUS nominee. The selection should be made based on competence first, race last! The last Justice selected based on race was Clarence Thomas by Bush Sr. He turned out to be the laziest, most partisan, most incompetent person ever on that court, completely shaming Thurgood Marshall, the person he replaced.
    Competence first!

    May 22, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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