Specter: Obama Wants to Avoid Partisan Fights on Judges

Posted February 3, 2009 at 6:05pm

President Barack Obama assured Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) that he does not want the looming judicial nominations process to become bogged down in the kind of partisan fighting that marked most of former President George W. Bush’s nominees and will tap individuals who he hopes can garner GOP support.

During a private meeting at the White House on Tuesday morning, Specter raised the issue of judicial nominations with Obama, urging the new president to take a bipartisan approach.

The first of Obama’s judicial picks could be months away — new administrations have historically waited until mid-spring before beginning the lengthy and politically charged process of confirming judges. But after nearly eight years of often-bitter partisan wrangling over Bush’s nominees, Specter has already begun pressing Obama to take a bipartisan approach.

Specter said he and Obama had a brief discussion on the topic of judges during which they “talked about bipartisanship and getting judges that would be acceptable to all sides.”

Although Specter said he did not ask Obama to float potential picks to Senate Republicans before formally nominating them, Obama did tell Specter that he would look to pick candidates that will be acceptable to Republicans and Democrats alike.

“He’s looking for judges that can get Republican support. He’s not looking to ram through his judges,” Specter said.

The meeting came on the heels of a letter that Specter sent Obama last week urging the new White House to avoid overly partisan judicial picks and to tap at least some of Bush’s nominees who did not make it through the confirmation process.