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Interview Schedule Indicates Obama on Track to Announce Supreme Court Pick

By Michael D. Shear and Peter Slevin

President Obama has interviewed more than two of the candidates on his list to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, and is on schedule to announce his nomination before leaving on an overseas trip slated for June 3, according to sources knowledgable about the secretive process.

Obama earlier this week interviewed Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago. It is unclear who else he has talked to in the one-on-one interviews he has conducted. Aides are also keenly interested in Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York, who would be the court’s first Hispanic justice.

But Obama is known to be considering others who are not on the bench, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, former Arizona governor.

The source said Obama did not formally interview Granholm when she visited the White House earlier this week.

The timing of the decision is not set, because Obama has not yet made his choice, the sources said. The announcement could come as soon as next week, said one source, who added that Obama's staff built extra time into the schedule so that Obama would not feel rushed in making one of the most important decisions of his young presidency.

One source said he was “99 percent sure” that the president would not be conducting interviews this weekend when he is at Camp David. Obama is scheduled to leave on Tuesday for a trip out west, and then return to Washington before embarking overseas, where he will deliver a major address to the Muslim world June 4 in Egypt.

The White House has said only that it wants to make a decision soon enough for confirmation hearings to be completed and the new justice to be in place when the court begins its new term on the first Monday in October.

Obama started with a large list of possibilities for the job when he took office, and then narrowed the list to about a dozen after Souter’s announcement May 1. White House Counsel Gregory Craig assigned two lawyers to each of those 12 to produce 30-page research papers, one source said. Obama read each and then requested the opinions of those candidates who are judges.

White House officials have gone out of their way to describe how intensely involved Obama has been in the process. One person who was with Obama recently said the president motioned to a foot-high stack of papers and said it was his Supreme Court reading. Another asked a tired-looking Obama if he had stayed up late watching the National Basketball Association playoffs, but the president said he’d been reading an appellate opinion and became so engrossed that he couldn’t put it down.

The president then met in the Oval Office with the lawyers from the counsel’s office before interviewing the candidates.

In Chicago, where Wood serves as an appellate judge and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, FBI agents interviewed friends and colleagues for a background report that was due at the White House on Tuesday, before Obama interviewed her. It is unclear how many candidates remain on the list.

By Paul Volpe  |  May 22, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Supreme Court  
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Next: Senate Republicans Name Their Chief Counsel for Nominations


no matter who is picked, let's hope that the vetting team and FBI do their job well, that no more illegal nannies or unpaid taxes pop up with the selected nominee...altho such problems can make for delightful reading, and add to commentary on WPost comments board, they really do no good in finding the best candidate to serve justice and the American people...if anything, in trying to make a decision by early June, the white house might be rushing things...and might in the process miss some key points that end up resulting in a pulled nominee, which is a major embarrassment to the administration.. and sign me as a mccain supporter on this comment...

Posted by: RoguesPalace | May 22, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I hope that President Obama gives full consideration to Federal Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, of the Federal Appeals Court. She has had an outstanding career in Law.

Her marriage to Pennsylvania Governor, Edward Rendell should not disqualifier.

She would bring a positive and progressive life-force to the stuffy old Supreme Court.


Posted by: JAMadison4 | May 22, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Rev. Wright - who better represents Obama's views?

Posted by: pgr88 | May 22, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The recent Toles cartoon displaying a group of Republican sharp shooters taking aim at a nominee "target" was unfortunately too true. It seems some groups and the senate republicans are ready to attack WHOMEVER the president nominates, regardless of qualifications, views, etc. How childish. Kudos to the first Republicans who support the nominee or at least "hold their fire" until the nominee has had an opportunity to appear before the Judiciary committee. A cooling off period after the announcement would be refreshing. Let's see what the nominee has to say before rejecting him or her.

Posted by: jmsbh | May 22, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

It would be nice to see an African American
Woman. But if not I trust Obama to pick
the right person. May God Bless the
President, to whomever he picks.

Posted by: maymhwmariah | May 22, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt this brilliant man will pick a candidate that will help balance the bench. It is unfortunate that this has become so political, but the court is now so far to the right that even a centrist will move it to the left. I only wish that a brilliant man had chosen the last two justices.

Posted by: aschau66 | May 22, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

to view a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 1500 pages long see

to view a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia see

Posted by: mabumford | May 22, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Requirements for hussein's Supreme Court nominee:

1. Hispanic (NB: English speaking or understanding is NOT required.)
2. Female (NB: No test will be made to confirm this to allow janet "wrong-way" napolitano to think she actually has a shot at the nomination.)
3. Dues-paying Union member
4. Has one black parent and at least one illegal immigrant parent.
5. TAX CHEAT who has swindled the government out of at least $50,000 (more is BETTER).
6. Gay or a gay-rights advocate
7. Member of La Raza advocating AMNESTY plus unlimited government benefits for all illegals.
8. Totally, completely committed to the socialist philosophy of Karl Marx.
9. Experienced as a "community organizer" with ACORN who has enabled at least 1000 cases of voter fraud (more is BETTER).
10. An experienced drug user (as close to the hussein level as possible) and an advocate for the legalization of all husseinallucinogenics.


When the loony-left d-crats talk of their "big tent" they actually mean their "circus tent" - as that is what they need to contain this "diversity" freak show.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | May 22, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
22 May 2009

I have a feeling that President Obama has already made up his mind on a nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

But he is keeping his cards close to his breast so that he can avoid the heavy pressures that normally come with an impending decision to nominate a justice of the Supreme Court.

One thing is certain, however. He's not going to pick an ultra-conservative candidate in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, or Clarence Thomas, or John Roberts or Samuel Alito who regards the U.S. Constitution as a document forever frozen in time, invulnerable to constructions and interpretations more in keeping with a continuosly evolving society.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | May 22, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

This is truly the silly season and the media continues to play the fool.Obama will appoint a solid,hard core Liberal who is to the left of Karl Marx.The nominee will be a woman.All of the breathless guessing and gushing is great theatre but really absurd.We know how this show ends.Obama knows who he wants and after his ego is satisfied,he`ll tell us.

Posted by: bowspray | May 22, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I hope its someone who doesn't chemically bomb defenseless children from 40,000 feet to steal the oil from their dead dad while calling them barbaric or rolls grenades into people's homes who resist our occupation of their second largest oil reserve on the planet. I want a liberal biped with a working cerebral cortex who believes in evolution and not murdering colored folks for their betterment, oil contracts and poking a stick at OPEC.

Posted by: rhyer | May 22, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Sonia Sotomayor has disqualified the Ct. fireman's test which I believe to be the right decision. 40% of the test score is based on an interview which is an open invitation to bias. Diane Woods while familiar to Obama does not have the impossible not to lose the hispanic voting bloc for a nay vote which Sonia possesses.

Posted by: jameschirico | May 22, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

So much hostility among these comments.

Good article. Thank you for the interesting insight into the process.

Posted by: mmoretti | May 22, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

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