WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: US President Barack Obama has narrowed his choice to fill the nation’s Supreme Court vacancy down to three judges, The Washington Post reported.
The president is considering DC-based Merrick Garland and Sri Srinivasan, and California-based Paul Watford, the Post said late on Friday, citing people familiar with the vetting process.
Much is at stake in the struggle over who will replace Antonin Scalia, the conservative justice who died unexpectedly February 13 — and whose successor could potentially tip the court towards a liberal majority.
Republicans in the Senate, which must approve any nomination, say it should be left to the next president to choose the new justice, while Obama says it is his constitutional duty to act now.
A favorite of Washington’s legal establishment, Garland, chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, came to prominence by prosecuting the case of anarchist Ted Kacynski, known as the “Unabomber”, and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Srinivasan, a highly respected appellate judge from the same court as Garland, is of Indian origin and would be the first Asian-American justice if nominated and approved.
And Watford is a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Court, in California.
On Friday White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama’s announcement would “not necessarily” be made before he leaves for his landmark trip to Cuba just over a week from now.