Obama invites Democrats, Republicans to discuss Supreme Court vacancy

08:32, April 14, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama has invited bipartisan leaders of the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee next week to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy left by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, the White House said Tuesday.

The meeting is to take place at the White House next Wednesday morning, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are to attend.

Also on the invitation list are Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Jeff Sessions, ranking Republic member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Stevens, who turns 90 later this month, announced his retirement Friday. He is the senior associate justice of the high court, and also its oldest member. He joined the court in 1975 after being nominated by President Gerald Ford. He will step down when the court begins its summer recess in late June or early July.

Obama has said he will move quickly to nominate a successor to Stevens, promising to have a new justice seated at the high court for the court's fall term.

Stevens' retirement is unlikely to tip the balance in the court, as the justice is one of the four liberal-leaning members of the court. Obama is likely to name a liberal to succeed him, leaving the court's liberal-conservative composition at the present 4 to 5.

As Democrats still control 59 seats in the Senate, local media outlets are predicting that Obama will likely prevail in the nomination battle. The presidential nomination of a Supreme Court justice has to be confirmed by the Senate.



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