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Obama said to be considering Iowa judge for Supreme Court

Mike Dorning Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is considering a federal judge in Iowa to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a person familiar with the matter said.

Jane Kelly, a federal appeals court judge in Cedar Rapids, would be the third woman Obama has nominated for the Supreme Court. Naming her would escalate political pressure on Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who spoke fondly of Kelly in 2013 before the Senate voted 96-0 to confirm her for the Court of Appeals.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting background interviews for Kelly’s potential nomination, a person familiar with the process said. The person asked not to be identified because the White House has not disclosed details of Obama’s deliberations.

Grassley and other Republicans on his committee have vowed they will hold no hearings on any Obama nominee, saying the next president should fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s Feb. 13 death.

In a 2013 speech, he called Kelly “well regarded in my home state of Iowa” and quoted a retired appeals court judge for whom she clerked, David Hansen, who said “she is a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” with an “exceptionally keen intellect.”

The White House declined to comment. The New York Times reported earlier that the White House was vetting Kelly for the court.

Kelly, who was born in 1964, is an Indiana native and a Harvard Law School classmate of Obama’s. She was a college professor and federal public defender in Cedar Rapids before joining the appeals court.

The White House may be considering more than one potential nominee to the court. Vetting often begins before the president settles on a final choice.

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