After sending out signals late last week that President Barack Obama was still some distance away from making a decision, the White House today indicated that an announcement of a new Supreme Court nominee may come this week. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said as much during today's briefing, and in other reports, unnamed sources also are quoted as saying, "We're getting there."
The accelerated pace comes after stories appeared that the president had additional meetings with potential nominees including Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Friday, and federal appeals judges Merrick Garland and Sidney Thomas on earlier occasions. On Saturday, Obama also shared the stage with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, another short-lister, during the University of Michigan commencement. Obama has also been working the phones, apparently, in talking to nominees. His questioning is said to focus on illuminating whether nominees have an appreciation of the impact of Court decisions on average citizens.
Two possible nominees seem to have taken themselves out of consideration either explicitly or because of circumstances beyond their control. Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, asked where she stands on the short list on "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace," demurred with the comment, "I think I'm focused on a few other issues right now." Among other things, she's dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Times Square failed car-bomb incident. Finally, there's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who made a near-Shermanesque denial of interest on NBC's "Meet the Press." She said flatly, "I do not, and never have wanted to be a judge."