White House Focuses on Three High Court Candidates

By Greg Stohr, Businessweek

April 5 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration, likely to learn in the next several weeks whether Justice John Paul Stevens will retire, is focusing on three candidates to succeed him, a White House official familiar with the deliberations said.

The group includes U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appellate judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Stevens, who will turn 90 on April 20, told the New York Times and Washington Post in interviews last week that he will decide soon whether he will step down. “The president and the Senate need plenty of time to fill a vacancy,” Stevens told the Times.

The justices are scheduled to rule in dozens of cases, including high-profile fights over gun rights and the fraud conviction of former Enron Corp. chief executive officer Jeffrey Skilling, before the term ends in late June or early July.

Stevens hasn’t communicated his intentions to the White House one way or another, according to the person familiar with the deliberations. President Barack Obama hasn’t begun discussing particular candidates with aides, and the list of leading candidates could change in the coming weeks, the person said.

“We’ll be prepared if a vacancy arises, but there’s no vacancy on the court, and there’s no short list awaiting a potential vacancy,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an e-mail.

Last Argument

White House officials expect that any retirement announcement would come after the high court’s last argument of its current term, on April 28, the person said. The administration is preparing to move quickly with a nomination, the person said.

To read more, visit: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-05/obama-focuses-on-three-candidates-to-succeed-justice-stevens.html

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