Obama meets with potential Supreme Court pick Wood

* Supreme Court nominee decision expected soon

* Kagan, Garland, Wood seen as favorites

* Obama meeting with Senate Republicans

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, May 5 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama and
Vice President Joe Biden met on Tuesday with Diane Wood, a
federal appeals court judge seen as one of the most liberal of
the potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court, a source
with knowledge of the conversations said on Wednesday.

With congressional elections ahead in November, Obama is
expected to decide quickly on a nominee for the seat being
vacated by Justice John Paul Stevens. The retiring justice is
the leading liberal on the court.

Administration officials said Obama could announce his pick
as soon as this week. He has been interviewing potential
nominees from a short list in recent days.

The favorites are U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan;
Merrick Garland, a federal appeals court judge in Washington,
D.C., and Wood, who sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Chicago.

Obama has also met with Sidney Thomas, a federal appeals
court judge in San Francisco with a more liberal record than
some potential nominees.

Administration officials have confirmed that the four are
on Obama’s short list, which had included about 10 names,
although they have declined to say how many are now on it.

Wood, who strongly supports abortion rights, may get a
rough ride from Senate Republicans in a confirmation hearing.
Analysts say Garland would attract the most support from
Republicans of those on Obama’s list.

Obama was meeting on Wednesday with senators Orrin Hatch
and Jon Kyl, both Republican members of the Senate Judiciary
Committee.

The Democratic president’s pick is not expected to shift
the basic ideological balance of the closely divided court,
which now has five conservative and four liberal justices.

CONFIRMATION FIGHT AHEAD

Republicans, the minority party in Congress, have said
little of Obama’s potential picks since Stevens announced last
month he would retire this summer. White House officials say
they expect a tough confirmation fight no matter who is
nominated.

Stevens is known as a consensus-builder whose intellect and
persuasiveness have at times helped push the
conservative-leaning court to his opinions. Administration
officials say Obama is seeking a liberal of intellectual heft
who also possesses consensus-building skills.

Obama has said he wants to announce his pick by the end of
May, so the new justice can be confirmed before the next
Supreme Court term begins in October. He announced his first
court nominee, then-federal appeals court Judge Sonia
Sotomayor, on May 26, 2009. She was confirmed in early August.

Analysts said it makes sense for Obama to try to get
through a distracting confirmation process as soon as possible
before elections in November in which his fellow Democrats will
be fighting to keep their majorities in Congress.

Also said to be on Obama’s short list: Homeland Security
Secretary Janet Napolitano; Martha Minow, the dean of Harvard
Law School; Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm; Ann Claire
Williams, a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and
Leah Ward Sears, who retired last year as chief justice of the
Supreme Court of Georgia.

Stock Market News
(Editing by Paul Simao)

Obama meets with potential Supreme Court pick Wood