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Obama starts Supreme Court interviews

April 30, 2010 at 8:16 AM

WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama has begun interviewing potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees, including federal Judge Sidney Thomas, officials said.

Thomas, of Billings, Mont., sits on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed in 1996.

A senior official did not discuss other recent meetings, but said discussions with possible successors to retiring Justice John Paul Stevens indicated the nominating process was progressing as Obama moves closer to a selection, CNN reported Friday.

Obama hasn't met recently with two other known contenders -- federal Judge Diane Wood and Solicitor General Elena Kagan -- but the official told CNN the president either met with them the last time there was a Supreme Court vacancy or already knows them from other encounters. The official did not comment on whether another short-lister, federal appellate Judge Merrick Garland, met one-on-one with Obama.

Obama has said he would nominate a candidate to succeed Stevens by the end of May so the Senate can complete its confirmation process before the new Supreme Court session begins in October.

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