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Obama to discuss Supreme Court vacancy

President Barack Obama is planning to meet with top Senate leaders from both parties Wednesday to discuss prospective replacements for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
/ Source: The Associated Press

President Barack Obama on Wednesday will meet with key Senate leaders from both parties as he moves closer to choosing a nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court.

The White House confirmed the meeting but said it did not indicate a finalization of the president's review process.

"I don't think we're at the point where the president says, `What do you think about these two people?'" White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told The Associated Press on Monday. "The president pledged very early on to consult broadly, and I think Wednesday's meeting does that."

Obama is to talk at the White House with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said the Republican leader hopes this is the start of the consultation process and that Obama "follows the lead of previous presidents and has many such meetings over the coming weeks before a nomination is announced."

The White House has ruled out that Obama will name his Supreme Court pick this week.

Souter is retiring in June, and Obama wants to have a nominee confirmed when the next Supreme Court session starts in October.

The president continues to get plenty of input.

Sens. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, and Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, wrote Obama on Monday and asked him to name a woman to replace Souter. They said women make up more than half the population but hold only one seat out of nine on the high court.

"The most important thing is to nominate an exceptionally well-qualified, intelligent person to replace Justice Souter — and we are convinced that person should be a woman," the two senators wrote Obama.