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Obama hopes for new justice by October

Fri., May 1, 2009, 12:42 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Friday he will replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter with someone who shares the president’s respect for “constitutional values” and hopes to have “him or her” seated on the nation’s highest court by the start of the next term in October.

In a dramatic flourish, Obama interrupted spokesman Robert Gibbs’ daily press briefing to announce that he had just talked to Souter. The news of Souter’s planned retirement had broken by then, but the White House had said nothing until the president came in.

Obama thanked Souter for his dedicated service, and quickly looked ahead to the nomination of a replacement.

“As I make this decision,” Obama said, “I intend to consult with members of both parties, across the political spectrum. And it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October.”

Souter informed Obama of his plans in a brief letter Friday. Obama praised Souter and thanked him for his service.

The 69-year-old justice is leaving after nearly two decades in Washington. His retirement gives Obama his first pick for the Supreme Court.

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