White House interviewing five potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees: source

WASHINGTON The White House is interviewing five potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia, a source familiar with the process told Reuters on Wednesday.

The source said those under consideration were federal judges Sri Srinivasan, Jane Kelly, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Paul Watford and Merrick Garland.

The five have been reported to be on the short list of potential nominees, but the source said they were the only ones currently under consideration.

Outside groups have said that President Barack Obama is likely to consider someone who is a woman or a member of a racial minority and was previously confirmed to a judgeship by a strong majority in the U.S. Senate.

The process of filling the spot that was held by Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, has ignited a partisan battle in Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not hold hearings on anyone nominated to the Supreme Court by Obama, a Democrat. Republicans who control the Senate do not want to see the court shift ideologically to the left and say the next justice should be picked by the winner of the Nov. 8 election.

Senate Democrats are demanding a vote on Obama’s nomination.

Kelly, who worked as a lawyer in Iowa, is considered a strong candidate because she has been supported by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings on potential nominees.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)

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