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Bench Memos

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On Consultation



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From today’s White House press briefing:

Let me back up, though. You brought up the Supreme Court, and I would like to update you, in terms of where we are in terms of consultations with the Senate, because the White House consultations have been wide and deep with the United States Senate. I think you heard Senator Hatch yesterday talk about how, in his 29 years in the United States Senate, he has not seen anything like this when it comes to the level of consultation that is going on. It is unprecedented, in his words, and he’s certainly been around the Senate for a long time to see the type of consultations that go on.

But we have reached out to more than 60 senators now, and we have actually consulted with most of those. We are continuing those outreach calls and meetings to listen to what senators have to say and hear what their views are. The President –

Q Did you try to reach all the senators?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has reached out, himself. The President looks forward to meeting tomorrow with four distinguished leaders in the Senate. He will be listening to what their views are. The President is not prejudging anything. He wants to hear what their views are and hear what they have to say as we move forward on a Supreme Court nominee. The President –

Q Does he want to hear names, Scott?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President welcomes people suggesting names. That’s part of the consultation process. But not only are we going to consult before the nomination is made, but we’ll continue to consult once the nomination is made.

We’ve also consulted with more than half of the Democratic conference in the United States Senate. We’ve spoken with every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And we are continuing that outreach as we speak. A number of White House staffers have been reaching out to individual members, and the President is going to be sitting down and meeting with those four leaders tomorrow.

Q What does he think of Specter — what does he think of Specter suggesting O’Connor as Chief?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look, Les, there are going to be a lot of suggestions made. I’m just not going to get into speculating about potential nominees. The President takes this responsibility very seriously. And that’s why he is going through a deliberate and thorough process. That’s why he has instructed us to reach out to senators and get their views and hear what they have to say about a potential nominee.

The President hopes that we can move forward in a dignified and civilized way. You heard him express that. It’s important to elevate the discourse as we move forward. The American people want this nomination process to be something that we can all be proud of. And the President is going to select the nominee who meets the criteria that he outlined — that is someone of high intellect, someone of integrity, someone who — someone of great legal ability and someone who will faithfully interpret our Constitution and our laws and not try to make law from the bench.



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