By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 14, 2009
President Obama told senators at a White House meeting yesterday that he would review names of potential Supreme Court nominees over the weekend, leading participants to believe an announcement could come within days, according to senior Senate aides who were briefed on the gathering.
The group included Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and the committee's senior Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.).
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters afterward that Obama reiterated to the group that he "would choose a nominee who respects the Constitution and judicial precedent and also has the good judgment and common sense to reach fair decisions." Obama urged senators to act quickly to ensure that the new justice is confirmed before the court's term begins in October.
Senate aides said Reid told Obama that the goal was a confirmation vote before the Senate departs on its summer recess. The official adjournment date is Aug. 7. No names were discussed, aides said.
Meanwhile, House leaders pledged yesterday morning to pass comprehensive health-care legislation by July 31, a deadline Obama said shows the "urgency" needed to fulfill his signature reform measure this year. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the deadline after meeting with Obama and top House Democrats.
Late yesterday, Obama told students at Arizona State University that they are graduating at an uncertain and challenging time, but he urged them to reject the old formulas for success and shape a new future for their generation.
Speaking at the aptly named Sun Devil Stadium in 98-degree heat just after 7 p.m., Obama told about 60,000 people that the economic slump will be overcome by the kind of innovation the graduates represent.
"I know starting your careers in troubled times is a challenge. But it is also a privilege," he said. "It is moments like these that force us to try harder, to dig deeper, to discover gifts we never knew we had -- to find the greatness that lies within each of us."
Obama's appearance followed a minor controversy about the school's decision against conferring an honorary degree on the president. Officials instead named a scholarship in his honor.
Staff writers Scott Wilson in Washington and Michael D. Shear in Tempe, Ariz., contributed to this report.