WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) — The White House is vetting an Iowa federal appellate judge for a vacancy in the Supreme Court, a spot most Americans now say they want President Barack Obama to make a nomination to fill.
An anonymous source with knowledge on the process told The New York Times the Obama administration is vetting Iowa’s Jane L. Kelly, 51. The process could pose a dilemma for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, also from Iowa.
Although Grassley praised Kelly during a speech in the Senate floor in 2013 before she was confirmed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, he has maintained that he will not hold hearings on whomever Obama picks as a nominee.
“I congratulate Ms. Kelly on her accomplishments and wish her well in her duties,” Grassley previously said. “I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me.”
Kelly, a Harvard-educated attorney, stands out from the former prosecutors, government lawyers and scholars who serve in the Supreme Court because she worked as a federal public defender for decades.
Citing the U.S. Constitution, Obama has promised to name a nominee to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Republican leadership, though, maintains that not only won’t they give any such nominee a confirmation hearing, they won’t even meet with them.
According to a CNN/ORC poll released on Thursday, 58 percent of Americans said they would like to see Obama nominate someone to the Supreme Court rather than to leave the seat vacant until a new president takes office in 2017, an opinion held by 41 percent.
In the poll, 66 percent said the person Obama nominates should get a hearing in the Senate, but 48 percent said that if most or all Republicans oppose Obama’s nominee, they would be justified in denying Obama’s candidate.