Video: Sen. Hatch: Hillary Clinton for Supreme Court?

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    >> morning.

    >>> patrick leahy is the chairman of the judicial committee and senator oren hatch of utah is a member of that same committee. good morning to both of you. what considers to be the hangover in washington over health care reform , is that timetable realistic? can this really get done by summer?

    >> oh, of course. it would be the same time schedule that the republicans had for john roberts as chief justice, democrats had for sonia sotomayor . it works very well. the irony is, matt, when a republican president nominated john paul stevens , heavily democratic senate , we confirmed him in about 2 1/2 weeks. so, actually, we're spending a lot more time now -- i'm the only member of the judiciary committee who voted for justice stevens .

    >> right.

    >> who is there. it can be done. it's the same schedule as the roberts and sotomayor hearings.

    >> we have what's left over from the health care reform and a mid-term election. how are those races at home going to affect the way members of congress will vote on this supreme court confirmation?

    >> well, i don't know. if the president picks somebody who is clearly qualified, i think there's no question we can get that person through in a relatively short period of time . for instance, so far in the obama administration , we have been confirming president obama 's nominees to the various courts 40% faster than president bush 's nominees were confirmed. so, i don't see any problem if the person is highly qualified. on the other hand, if he picks somebody strictly on -- if he picks an it activist judge, i don't care whether the activist judge is liberal or conservative, we ought to do everything in our power to defeat that person because they should not sit on the court if they are acting in their own self interests and according to what their own predilictions rather than having the law control them. the law should control the judge judges rather than the other way around.

    >> elena kagan , diane wood , merrick garland , janet napolitan napolitano. anyone that jumps out that you would like to see nominated to the supreme court ?

    >> i've discussed possible names with the president and i'll keep those suggestions for him. obviously, all those four people are well qualified. it's going to ultimately be his choice . i would disagree with one thing with senator hatch. in 17 months during president bush 's first term with democrats in control , we confirmed 100 of president bush 's nominees. in 17 months with the republicans doing filibusters, of course, we confirmed far less of president obama 's, but i'm going to assume that everybody is going to be responsible. we can move forward with this nominee and we should. we have a very activist -- very conservative activist supreme court that ruled that women can be paid less than men, given a $2 billion windfall to exxon and now said corporations can be involved in elections . the supreme court really does count. we should get down as soon as possible and get to work on confirming somebody.

    >> senator hatch, you just heard the names . i'm not going to mention them again. anybody jump out on that list? does anyone send up a red flag , in your opinion?

    >> let me just say this. i'm not going to prejudge anybody now. supreme court confirmation proceedings have to be thorough. it's going to take some time to look at each one of these people, if they're nominated. i even heard the name hillary clinton today. and that would be an interesting person in the mix. but, look, i have to say that i think this business of filibuster is a way of recharge -- senator leahy and even the president, senator leahy filibustered -- voted for filibuster 25 times on various nomin nominees.

    >> not so. that's okay.

    >> he knows that i do not believe that we should be filibustering judges. we ought to have a vote up or down. let's hope --

    >> let's at least agree on that.

    >> well, the president himself -- the president himself voted against closure on a number of occasions. they're hardly in a position to say republicans can't filibuster.

    >> obviously the facts are the facts. when republicans were in charge , they pocket filibustered 61 of president clinton 's nominees, but that's in the past.

    >> instead of going back and forth on that --

    >> let us get the supreme court nominee . that's what the american people want.

    >> let me say this. senator hatch, by the way, you mentioned secretary clinton . in your opinion, would she be qualified?

    >> i'm not going to judge anybody right now. i happen to like hillary clinton . i think she has done a good job for the democrat secretary of state 's position, and i have a high respect for her and think a great deal of her. i'm not going to prejudge that. we'll have to look at it. we'll look at it very carefully and be very fair about it.

    >> i think she has done a good job for the country , not just for democrats .

    >> i think so, too.

    >> i think for the whole country .

    >> i think so, too.

    >> an interesting couple of months come iing up. senator leahy , senator hatch, once again, thanks.

    >>> it's now 18 after the

updated 4/12/2010 6:14:56 PM ET 2010-04-12T22:14:56

President Barack Obama's candidates for the Supreme Court include a new name, federal appeals court Judge Sidney Thomas of Montana, and at least six others who were contenders when Obama chose his first high court nominee last year, The Associated Press has learned.

Among the others under consideration are former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, federal appeals court judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The president is seriously reviewing about 10 people as a potential nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring this summer.

Seven of those names are now confirmed to the AP by the administration.

A senior administration official said the president's consideration is not just centered on the three people receiving the most public attention: Wood, Kagan and Garland. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcements have been made about the people Obama is considering for the court.

Thomas, 56, of Billings, Mont., serves on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the largest of the nation's appellate courts.

He was nominated to the federal bench in July 1995 by then-President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in January 1996 with no controversy in a voice vote.

He comes from Western roots — born in Bozeman, Mont., bachelor's degree from Montana State University, law degree from the University of Montana. Thomas worked in private practice in Billings and was an adjunct community college law professor there for years before becoming a federal judge.

The White House on Monday quickly ended speculation about another potential nominee: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her named had been floated as a possibility by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama "is going to keep her as his secretary of state."

Who will replace Justice Stevens? Obama's list includes three people whom he interviewed as finalists when the court had an opening last year — Wood, Kagan and Napolitano. The president ultimately nominated federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter. She was later confirmed in a 68-31 vote by the Senate.

With his second nomination in less than a year, Obama is in a far different position.

He has the experience of having gone through a successful search, and a ready-made list of names from that effort. But administration officials say Obama is also intent not to rely on the candidates from last time and that new ideas are in the mix, cautioning about an over-reliance on conventional wisdom.

So far, most of the known candidates under Obama's review are familiar within Washington's political and legal circles. They are:

  • Wood, an appeals court judge in Chicago who has worked at the State Department, the Justice Department and in private practice. Like Obama, she taught at the University of Chicago Law School.
  • Kagan, who stepped down as dean of Harvard Law School to become the nation's first female solicitor general. Like Obama, she has her law degree from Harvard and taught at the University of Chicago Law School.
  • Granholm, the Michigan governor and former federal prosecutor and Michigan attorney general.
  • Napolitano, the homeland security chief who is a former Arizona governor and a former federal prosecutor.
  • Garland, of the federal appeals court in Washington, a former high-ranking Justice Department official.
  • Sears, the first black female to serve as the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, who is now in private practice after a long career on the bench.

As for Thomas, an individual who answered the phone at his chambers in Billings said he was not in town on Monday and a message was not immediately returned.

"He typically is very intellectual without coming off as erudite," said Timothy Bechtold, a Missoula lawyer and chairman of the Montana Bar Association's federal practice section. "His opinions are very well thought out and are meant to be very easy for everyone to understand the legal reasoning behind it."

Randy Bishop, a Billings attorney who went to law school with Thomas, said he told Thomas at the time of his confirmation to the federal appeals court that he was suited to land on the Supreme Court one day.

"He just laughed it off in a modest way," said Bishop, "and said 'I'm glad to get on the 9th Circuit right now.'"

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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