Politics

White House: 'Ample Time' for Senate to Confirm Court Pick

Activists demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on Feb. 15, calling on Congress to give fair consideration to Obama’s coming nominee. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House on Tuesday rejected the notion that its effort to announce a Supreme Court nominee might leave the Senate with too few legislative days to take it up.  

Since Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has advised reporters to expect President Barack Obama to spend four or five weeks studying materials prepared by his legal team before picking a nominee. He took roughly the same amount of time to select Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who were both confirmed.  

Using that timeline, the window for an announcement would open on Sunday. Saying recent nominees to the high court have needed about 65 days from nomination to floor vote, Earnest told reporters "there's ample time for the Senate to act." There are 113 days remaining (starting Wednesday) on the Senate’s official calendar of expected legislative days this year.  

Earnest said the White House does not expect an announcement on Tuesday, but he said he “wouldn’t rule out any other day” this week.  

Once Obama sends the Senate a pick, the legislative calendar would only come into play if Republicans cave on their vows against taking up any nominee.  

On Monday, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said the coming nominee “will bear some resemblance to a piñata .”  

“You know, what I don’t understand is how … somebody who actually wants to be confirmed to the Supreme Court would allow themselves to be used by the administration in a political fight that’s going to last now until the end of the year,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told reporters.  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @BennettJohnT.

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