Tags: court | advice | obama

Biden: Obama Looks to Me for Court Advice

Monday, 11 May 2009 01:59 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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President Barack Obama is looking to Vice President Joe Biden for advice in filling the Supreme Court vacancy created upon the retirement of Justice David H. Souter, according to a report in the Washington Post.

“The president is basically taking advantage of my experiences by asking me nuanced questions about both individuals and timing,” Biden said.

“I think we have plenty of time, meaning between now and early summer,” Biden revealed. “Our expectation is that we may be able to move more rapidly.” He explained that the target was to get a confirmation in the bag before the Senate’s August recess.

Biden further explained that in his opinion it would be best to avoid an ideological fight by picking a justice with impeccable credentials, a mainstream legal view and “an understanding that decisions on the close calls affect individuals.”

“When you pick someone in that genre, there usually is not a holy war,” Biden opined. “That’s the inclination of the president. So I expect things to go rather smoothly.”

Despite the Vice President’s outspokenness on the subject, CNN reported recently that the 36-year Capitol Hill veteran and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee would strictly serve as an adviser to President Obama on the vetting process -- he would not “lead” the vetting team, according to a White House aide.

The aide advised, “As a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he brings a lot of experience and knowledge of how this process works on the Hill – but reports he’s leading or would be leading a ‘vetting team’ etc aren’t true.”

According to various media reports, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is actually leading the search, utilizing the White House counsel’s office.

According to the Post, Biden and the president have culled lists of potential nominees, discussed lobbying various senators about a prospective choice, and mulled when it would be most opportune to announce a nominee.

While heading the Judiciary Committee, Biden led several Supreme Court confirmation hearings -- and has voted on every sitting justice with the exception of John Paul Stevens, noted the Post report.

Biden, who was a major player in Justice Clarence Thomas’s controversial confirmation hearings, was noted by the Post as having a “feel for the personalities, complexities and sensitivities of the process.”

Not only was Biden a prime figure in the Thomas confirmation battle, he also was in the trenches during the infamous “Borking” of Robert H. Bork, the conservative legal scholar who was eventually nixed as a nominee by the Senate.

So far, with only 10 potential court candidates on the known short-list, Court watchers are forecasting an Obama announcement by as early as June.

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