Government

Obama starts interviewing candidates, including Kelly, for Supreme Court vacancy

Cedar Rapids resident not considered a leading contender

US Circuit Judge Jane Kelly (right) talks with her parents, Richard and Judy Kelly of Greencastle, Ind., following Kelly’s investiture ceremony as an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals judge at the United States Courthouse for the Northern District of Iowa on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
US Circuit Judge Jane Kelly (right) talks with her parents, Richard and Judy Kelly of Greencastle, Ind., following Kelly’s investiture ceremony as an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals judge at the United States Courthouse for the Northern District of Iowa on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has started to interview candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, National Public Radio reported on Tuesday, citing sources close to the process.

Among the interviewees are Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Judge Sri Srinivasan of the same court; Judge Paul Watford of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco; Judge Jane Kelly of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis; and U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves in Washington, D.C., NPR reported.

The first three of these individuals are considered the leading contenders, NPR said.

Kelly, 51, of Cedar Rapids, was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2013 to serve on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier on Tuesday asked not to be considered as a nominee, the Justice Department said in a statement. Lynch had been rumored to be under consideration.

The process of filling the spot that was held by Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, has ignited a partisan battle in Washington.

Republicans who control the U.S. Senate do not want to see the court shift ideologically to the left and have said they will not hold a vote on Obama’s nominee. All appointees by the president to the Supreme Court are subject to approval by the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the next Supreme Court justice should be chosen by the winner of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

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