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

President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Obama officials owe the nation an apology for major abuse of power The battle of two Cubas MORE’s Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed by the fall, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Monday.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHouse punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate House cancels planned Thursday vote on FISA Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (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.


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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic For city parks: Pass the Great American Outdoors Act now MORE (R-Ky.) has promised a "sustained and vigorous" vetting of the eventual nominee's record, while Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSenate GOP chairman criticizes Trump withdrawal from WHO Trump: US 'terminating' relationship with WHO Soured on Fox, Trump may be seeking new propaganda outlet MORE (Tenn.) specifically left open the possibility of a filibuster.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (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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