'I've Made My Decision' On Supreme Court Nominee, President Obama Says
President Obama will announce his choice of a successor to late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, saying in an email Wednesday, "I've made my decision: Today, I will announce the person I believe is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court."
The announcement is slated to be made at 11 a.m. ET, when the president will speak from the Rose Garden at the White House.
The president's move to fill the seat left vacant by Scalia, who died just over one month ago, comes as conservative Republicans have pledged to block any attempt to fill the spot before a new president is sworn in next January.
But this morning, Obama called on the Senate to hold a fair confirmation hearing of his nominee, and to hold an up-or-down vote.
Announcing his plan to fill the vacancy, Obama said, "it is both my constitutional duty to nominate a Justice and one of the most important decisions that I — or any president — will make."
As for the person who might replace Scalia, three appeals court judges emerged as the top candidates last week, when NPR reported that Obama was interviewing candidates:
- Judge Sri Srinivasan, 49, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia;
- Chief Judge Merrick Garland, 63, also of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia;
- Judge Paul Watford, 48, of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco;
Here's how NPR's Nina Totenberg described those candidates, on today's Morning Edition:
Garland is "formerly a prosecutor, he ran the Oklahoma City bombing investigation; he ran the Unabomber investigation... The con is that because he has all that experience, he's 63 years old, and a lot of Democrats would like somebody young than that, who presumably would be there longer than that."
Srinivasan is "widely respected, has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He doesn't have a long Court of Appeals record – but that's not enough to flyspeck very carefully."
Watford "has been on the 9th Circuit since the first Obama administration; there were 34 Republican votes against him, but there were Republican votes for him. If he doesn't make it this time, I guarantee you his name will be in the next time."
Before making his decision, Obama said, he consulted with legal experts across the political spectrum. And he listed three qualities he sought in a potential Supreme Court justice:
- An "independent mind, unimpeachable credentials, and an unquestionable mastery of law."
- A recognition of "the limits of the judiciary's role."
- Awareness "that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook."
After that last point, Obama said he wanted a candidate who had experienced life outside academic or justice settings, so they would understand the way the law "affects the daily reality of people's lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly-changing times."
"I am fulfilling my constitutional duty," Obama said at the close of his message. "I'm doing my job. I hope that our Senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee."