WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden spent Tuesday picking the man who will guide his Supreme Court nominee through the process, formally kicking off the nomination process.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the two top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Following that meeting, Biden called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to discuss the nomination, his office said.
“The Leader believes the cornerstone of a nominee’s judicial philosophy should be a commitment to originalism and textualism,” his office said in a statement. “He emphasized the importance of a nominee who believes in judicial independence and will resist all efforts by politicians to bully the Court or to change the structure of the judicial system.”
Tuesday reflected the President’s commitment to wanting to work with both Democrats and Republicans to get input on whom he should nominate to replace the retiring Stephen Breyer, who has said he will step down at the end of the term, sometime in late June or early July. Last week, Biden announced he would keep his campaign promise of nominating the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
The White House is planning to bring in former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones to assist the eventual nominee through the confirmation process in the Senate. Jones will be part of a larger team that will help with preparations for the confirmation hearings along with help with the nominee’s introductions.
Jones’ role is known in Washington as a “sherpa.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised swift confirmation hearings but Biden said Tuesday the entire process will take around 40 days, which is longer than Schumer promised.
“I’m serious when I say that I want the advice of the Senate as well as the consent,” Biden told reporters before the meeting. I’m looking for a candidate with character, with the qualities of a judge, in terms of being courteous to the folks before them and treating people with respect, as well as a judicial philosophy that is more one that suggests that there are unenumerated rights in the Constitution.”
Biden has previously said he would seek input from both parties before making a selection. With Democrats holding a razor-thin majority, they will need every single Democratic senator to vote for the President’s nominee. That was thrown into doubt on Tuesday after it was announced Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M) suffered a stroke.
Lujan is expected to make a full recovery but his office declined to say when he would be able to return to work.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to answer if Republican votes would factor into who Biden selects.
“The President’s focus is on picking the person who is eminently qualified, who is ready to serve and prepared to serve in a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, not in navigating the legislative process,” she said.