Supreme Court pick to be made by May 26

President Barack Obama will nominate a replacement to fill the Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens no later than May 26.

But a senior administration official said it’s “entirely likely” that the president’s pick will come “well before then.”

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“We’ve got a little more of a running start to the process,” the official said.

May 26 is the same day Obama nominated Sotomayor last year. Using a similar timeline to hers, the official said, the White House is confident that Obama’s nominee for Stevens’s seat will be confirmed and seated before the August recess.

Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings began on July 13, 2009, and the Senate Judiciary Committee gave her nomination the go-ahead just over two weeks later, on July 28.

The full Senate confirmed her on Aug. 6, with nine Republicans voting for approval.

Obama is hosting Republicans and Democrats at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the vacancy, and he will make calls later this week and early next to get input from lawmakers in both parties.

But even as he reaches across the aisle for suggestions, the official said, the president is “resigned” to knowing that his choice — whoever it is — will be opposed by the right. Obama fully expects that many Senate Republicans and conservative activists will be vocal in their criticism, as they were during Sotomayor’s confirmation battle.

“That knowledge is a little liberating,” the official said. “It’s coming anyway. He doesn’t have to worry about that.”

Still, the official said, Obama will go into Wednesday’s bipartisan meeting with Senate leadership and the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a good-faith effort to gather input.