- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2016

President Obama has begun to solicit advice from top Senate Republicans and Democrats in his effort to nominate a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the White House said Friday.

In the past 24 hours, the president has spoken on the phone with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, both of whom want the next president in 2017 to nominate a candidate. Mr. Obama spoke with Mr. Grassley Friday morning, after the lawmaker penned an op-ed with Mr. McConnell urging a delay in the nomination.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the phone conversations were “entirely professional” and that the president made clear he will nominate a candidate soon.

“He reiterated his firm believe that the Senate has a constitutional obligation here as well” to hold hearings on the eventual nominee, Mr. Earnest said.

The president also has spoken with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Earnest noted that both Mr. McConnell and Mr. Grassley voted to confirm Justice Anthony Kennedy in the presidential election year of 1988.

“That was their constitutional duty,” he said. “We would expect them to do the same thing this time.”

The White House also appeared to give a plug for Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the vacancy. Mr. Earnest noted that the president’s last nominee for the high court, Elena Kagan, was solicitor general at the time, and her important post “did not present obstacles that were insurmountable” to her nomination and confirmation in 2010.

Even though Ms. Lynch has been attorney general only for about nine months, Mr. Earnest said, “she has served with distinction.”


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