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Sen. Leahy confident Obama’s Supreme Court nominee will be confirmed by fall

President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee
should be
confirmed by the fall, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said
Monday.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) expressed confidence
that the
Senate would confirm a successor to retiring Justice John Paul Stevens
before
the court begins its October session, which would meet Obama’s deadline.

{mosads}Leahy, who will oversee hearings for whomever is
nominated, said
an October confirmation is entirely consistent with recent history.

“It’d be the same time schedule that the Republicans had for John
Roberts as
chief justice, the Democrats had for Sonia Sotomayor,” Leahy said during
an
appearance on NBC’s “Today” show.


Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush
and confirmed
in 2005, while Sotomayor was Obama’s first nominee. She was confirmed
last
year.

Republicans have warned they could filibuster a nominee if Obama names
someone
to the court who leans to far to the left. While Democrats only need a
majority
vote to win confirmation, they need 60 votes to win procedural motions
on the
nomination.

The party holds 59 of the Senate’s seats, one fewer
than
during Sotomayor’s confirmation battle.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has
promised
a “sustained and vigorous” vetting of the eventual nominee’s record,
while Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)
specifically left open the possibility of a filibuster.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a veteran member of the judiciary panel, said
Monday
that the committee’s Republicans would be more willing to work to
confirm a
nominee they view as a non-activist.

“I can say that if the president picks someone who’s clearly qualified, I
think
there’s no question we can get that person through in a relatively short
period
of time,” Hatch said during a joint interview with Leahy on NBC.

“On the other hand, if he picks an activist judge — I don’t
care if the activist judge is liberal or conservative, we ought to do
everything in our power to defeat that person.”

Leahy blamed GOP opposition for what he said were
longer and
longer confirmation battles on Supreme Court nominees.

He also said he’s discussed some of the candidates
for the
bench with the president, but declined to elaborate on that discussion.
The
short list is said to include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Appeals
Court
Judge Diane Wood, and, according to ABC News Monday morning, former Georgia
Supreme
Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears.

“The Supreme Court really does count and we should get down and begin
work as
soon as possible,” Leahy said.

This article was originally posted at 8:38 A.M.

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Tags Barack Obama Lamar Alexander Mitch McConnell Orrin Hatch Patrick Leahy
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