OBAMA: What I'm looking for in my Supreme Court pick

President Barack Obama published a blog post Wednesday morning on SCOTUSblog, a Supreme Court news site, vowing to nominate someone “in the weeks ahead” to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Senate Republicans have said they would block any Obama nominee, but the president wrote that he nevertheless has a constitutional obligation to pick a strong candidate for the high court.

“Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly,” he wrote.

Obama then outlined three qualities he would look for in any potential Supreme Court nominee:

First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified. He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity. I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.

Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognises the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law. I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand. …

[T]he third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times.

Obama’s third point, stressing the broader “life experience” of a Supreme Court nominee, was similar to what he said when he nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009. He touted both her “brilliant legal career” and “the wisdom accumulated from an inspiring life’s journey” that included the Bronx housing project she grew up in.

Read Obama’s full SCOTUSblog post >

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