Abortion will not be a “litmus test” for a Supreme Court nominee, whom President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaLetters: ATF should explain its ban on AR-15 ‘armor-piercing’ ammo Press: Hillary's doomed bid Overnight Energy: Trump to sign orders on offshore drilling, national monuments MORE said would be named by the end of May.
The president emphasized Tuesday during a meeting with Senate leaders that he would pick someone who keeps women's-rights issues in mind when considering cases.
Obama said his nominee would be someone who interprets “our
Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that
includes women's rights.”
Obama made the comments at a meeting with Senate leaders from both parties in the Oval Office on Wednesday to discuss his second nomination to the high court.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) told reporters after the meeting that the “tone of the meeting” was good because of how well the proceedings over Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, went last summer.
Administration officials have said their goal is to have a nominee named by May 26, and Obama said that his pick to replace Justice John Paul Stevens would “certainly” be made by the end of next month and could come even sooner.
“Last time, the nomination went up at the end of May," he told reporters.
“We are certainly going to meet that deadline, and we hope maybe we can
accelerate it a little bit so that we have some additional time. But my hope is
that we're going to be able to get a Supreme Court nominee confirmed in time
for the next session."
Reid said no names were discussed during the meeting with Republicans, but both he and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyLawmakers talk climate for Earth Day, Science March Poll: Sanders most popular senator in the US Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules MORE (D-Vt.) said they have privately provided Obama with names.
Reid and Leahy said Obama's nominee will be confirmed before the first of August, and Obama reiterated his desire to see that happen so that the new justice can join the court for its fall session.
“The Senate's reputation is on the line here,” Reid said.
Reid, GOP Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate approves Trump's Agriculture chief Overnight Finance: Trump wants 15 percent corporate rate | GOP tax team huddles with Trump aides | Shutdown watch over border wall McConnell: No deal yet on government funding MORE (Ky.), Leahy and Judiciary ranking Republican Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump faults DNC in Russian email hacks Sessions: Dems will pass anything ‘as long as it doesn’t work’ This week: Congress returns to government shutdown fight MORE (Ala.) attended the White House meeting, designed to send the signal that the president is taking input from both parties.
After the meeting, Obama called nine other members of the Judiciary panel. He'll be making more calls in the days ahead, according to the White House.
Leahy warned Republicans not to “stake out a position before they even hear who the nominee is.”
“Let's wait until we see what happens," Leahy said.
He added that he thought the court has taken on a “conservative, activist”
tone, and he hopes that Obama's pick will not be beholden to either major
“I would hope that we ignore the groups on the far right and the far left,” Leahy said.
On abortion, Obama said that he is “somebody who believes
that women should have the ability to make often very difficult decisions about
their own bodies and issues of reproduction.”
That said, Obama said he would follow the example of presidents before him, saying he doesn't “have a litmus test around any of these issues.”
Obama thanked the bipartisan group of senators for joining
him at the White House, and said he is going to listen to Republicans and
Democrats before making a decision.
“I take this process very seriously, so I'm going to interested in hearing their thoughts and concerns before any final decisions are made,” Obama said.
Obama said he is “confident that we can come up with a nominee who will gain the confidence of the Senate and the confidence of the country and the confidence of the individuals who look to the court to provide even-handed justice to all Americans.”
This story was updated at 2:08 p.m.