WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – President Barack Obama said Wednesday he will reveal his Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, expecting to choose from a small circle of federal appeals court judges.
“I’ve made my decision,” Obama said in an email to supporters early Wednesday.
Obama planned to introduce his pick at 1o a.m. in the White House Rose Garden, setting up a showdown with Senate Republicans who have told the White House not to bother filling the vacancy in an election year.
In his email, Obama did not identify his choice to replace the Scalia on the nine-member court. But the president said he had devoted a “considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision” and consulted with outside experts and groups.
“In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I’m doing my job,” Obama wrote. “I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee.”
That will be a hard sell because Republicans control the Senate, which must confirm any nominee, and GOP leaders want to leave the choice to the next president, denying Obama a chance to alter the ideological balance of the court before he leaves office next January. Republicans contend that a confirmation fight in an election year would be too politicized.
In a statement released from the White House, the President said:
“As President, it is both my constitutional duty to nominate a Justice and one of the most important decisions that I — or any president — will make. I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision. I’ve consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we’ve reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously.”
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The President also laid out his criteria for his choice, saying:
“First, a Justice should possess an independent mind, unimpeachable credentials, and an unquestionable mastery of law. There is no doubt this person will face complex legal questions, so it is imperative that he or she possess a rigorous intellect that will help provide clear answers.
Second, a Justice should recognize the limits of the judiciary’s role. With a commitment to impartial justice rather than any particular ideology, the next Supreme Court Justice will understand that the job is to interpret the law, not make law.
However, I know there will be cases before the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. In those cases, a Justice’s analysis will necessarily be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment.
Therefore, the third quality I looked for in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly-changing times. In my view, that’s an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.”
There’s a vacancy on the nine-member court due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Sources have told The Associated Press that Obama has narrowed the list to three appeals court judges: Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the appeals courts in Washington, D.C.; Sri Srinivasan, a judge on that court; and Paul Watford of the appeals courts based in San Francisco.
Republicans who run the Senate have said they won’t consider an Obama nominee in an election year and want the next president to make that choice.
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