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Women dominate list for top court

President meets with lawmakers on confirmation

By Ben Feller
Associated Press / May 14, 2009
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WASHINGTON - President Obama is considering a list of more than six contenders for the Supreme Court that is dominated by women and Hispanics, one that includes judges and leaders from his administration who have never donned a judicial robe.

Sources familiar with Obama's deliberations said those among consideration include California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and federal Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood.

The sources confirmed the names on condition of anonymity because no candidates have been revealed by the White House. One official cautioned that Obama is considering other people who have not been publicly mentioned. And more names may be added as the administration considers a replacement for retiring Justice David Souter.

The president met privately yesterday at the White House with four leading senators likely to play a key role in confirmation proceedings, while top aides huddled with the leaders of several liberal-leaning interest groups.

Obama talked with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and new Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

After the meeting, the senators said they expect Obama to announce his nominee soon, but offered no definitive timetable. They also said that Obama did not name any possible nominees.

The president is not expected to name his pick this week, but he does want the Senate to confirm his selection before its lengthy August recess so the justice can take part in the next high court session that starts in October.

But the senators would not commit to that timetable. "We'll work out a decent schedule," said Leahy. "Let's get the nominee first."

Most of the people confirmed as under consideration have been mentioned frequently as potential candidates. Moreno - the sole man on the known group of candidates - is the newest name to emerge.

The president is widely expected to choose a woman for a Supreme Court that has nine members but only one female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He is also under pressure from some Latino officials to name the nation's first Hispanic justice. Moreno and Sotomayor are Hispanic.