WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama will meet with key U.S. Senate leaders next week to discuss a successor to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the White House said.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama will meet with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont and the committee's ranking Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, along with the chamber's party leaders but his decision on a nominee is still weeks off, The Hill reported Thursday.
Obama and White House aides said they would want Senate action on the nominee during the summer so the nominee can be seated before the start of the fall term in October.
Obama was warned by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl not to use a campaign finance ruling as a litmus test.
During a Senate floor session, the Republican from Arizona was reacting to reports Obama may be seeking a candidate willing to work to overturn the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on individual campaigns.
"You don't go on to the bench (saying), 'I'm always going to be against the big guy,'" Kyl said, a reference to remarks made by Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation hearings.
Obama used his State of the Union to criticize the decision, drawing a reaction from Roberts, who attended the speech and who later called Obama's comments "very troubling."
In a Senate floor speech Monday about filling the Supreme Court vacancy, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., said the corporate donation case exemplified conservatives' hypocrisy when they criticize judicial activism.
"Let's be candid about the Supreme Court being an ideological battleground today," Specter said. "That happens to be a fact. When some decry judicial activism, what could be more judicial activism than reversing the 100-year precedent that corporations may not engage in political advertising ...?"