President Barack Obama is reportedly vetting Jane L. Kelly as a possible Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Kelly, 51, is a federal appellate judge in Iowa. The FBI has been conducting interviews with Kelly as part of the process to find a new justice, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Obama is expected to choose Scalia’s successor in the next few weeks, but might face a block from congressional Republicans.
The possibility of Kelly’s nomination may make it awkward for Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has vowed to block confirmation of the appointee until after November’s general election. Grassley is the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee and can decide whether to hold confirmation hearings.
Grassley praised Kelly in a speech on the Senate floor in 2013 prior to her being confirmed for her current position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He also urged his colleagues to support his decision.
According to The New York Times, Democrats have said privately that if Obama does select Kelly it may change Grassley’s stance on whether to hold hearings. However, Grassley has said he wouldn’t support nominee hearings even if Obama selects an Iowan.
Kelly told the Times, through an assistant, that she’s not going to give interviews on the subject.
Last week, it was thought that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval could be named the successor to Justice Scalia. However, he said he told the White House he wasn’t interested in the nomination.
“Earlier today, I notified the White House that I do not wish to be considered at this time for possible nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Sandoval said in a statement, adding he’s told key Senate leaders the same. “The notion of being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land is beyond humbling and I am incredibly grateful to have been mentioned.”
Other potential candidates on the short list include Judges Patricia Millett and Sri Srinvasan, both who are on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.