jpstevens

GOP Tries to Head off Liberal Stevens Replacement

By MARK SHERMAN Associated Press Writer

Republicans are promising a “whale of a fight” during the congressional election campaign if President Barack Obama picks too liberal a nominee to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Eleven days before his 90th birthday, Stevens said Friday he would step down when the court finishes its work for the summer, in hopes that a replacement could be confirmed well before the next term begins in October.

Obama said he would quickly name a successor in the mold of Stevens, who he said was a voice for ordinary people rather than powerful interests.

A White House official said about 10 people are under consideration, but speculation has focused on fewer than that. Leading candidates are said to be Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate judges Merrick Garland, 57, in Washington and Diane Wood, 59, in Chicago. All three were considered last year as well, and Obama interviewed Kagan and Wood before choosing Sonia Sotomayor for the high court.

Of those, Wood would be most likely to excite Obama’s liberal base and stir up conservative opposition. Garland is seen as most acceptable to Republicans, with Kagan somewhere in between.

Senate Republicans said the nominee should not be an activist, which they describe as someone driven by a preferred result rather than by the law. In practice, though, Republicans find that only liberal Democratic-appointed judges wear the activist label.

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“I have hopes that President Obama will at least try to appoint somebody who will get a huge bipartisan vote, and if he will, he’s going to go down in history as a better president,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “If he doesn’t, there’s going to be a whale of a fight if he appoints an activist to the court. That’s not good for him, it’s not good for the Senate, it’s not good for the country.”

Looking toward the hearings, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said, “Americans can expect Senate Republicans to make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fundamental importance of an evenhanded reading of the law.”

To read more, visit: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=10338195

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