May 26 is the real Court drop-dead date

May 3, 2010

OBAMA/

Amidst the fever of  speculation about when President Barack Obama will unveil his next nominee to the Supreme Court, administration officials quietly point to one date — May 26 — as the absolute deadline for him to make his choice.

May 26 is the date last year when Obama named then-appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his first nominee for a Supreme Court vacancy. And despite what became a fairly nasty battle over her qualifications, she was confirmed on August 6, before the Senate adjourned for its August recess.

The logic at the White House is that opposition Republicans cannot argue that there is not enough time to consider a nominee if Obama makes his announcement before May 26, because there was enough time last year for Sotomayor.

In the meantime, an announcement is still expected by mid-May, with the White House refusing to rule this week out, the way it did last week.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the announcement would not come before Friday. But he has refused to rule out the current week, and in fact has teased reporters. On Friday, he said Obama would announce his choice “In the next little bit of time,” and declined to rule out this week. On Monday, Gibbs offered more of  the same, by saying the president was “close,” and nothing more.

“I am happy to advise you of when the event is, when we do announce it. It might be duplicative to announce each day when the event’s NOT going to be,” Gibbs said.  He did say he could not rule out this week, adding, “See, I just handled a whole week’s worth of duplicate e-mail.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama discusses Supreme Court vacancy with bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate in the Oval Office)

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