White House interviewing 5 potential US Supreme Court nominees: Source

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The White House is interviewing five potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death last month of Justice Antonin Scalia, a source familiar with the process told Reuters on Wednesday.

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The source said those under consideration were federal judges Sri Srinivasan, Jane Kelly, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Paul Watford and Merrick Garland.

The five have been reported to be on the short list of potential nominees, but the source said they were the only ones currently under consideration.

Outside groups have said that President Barack Obama is likely to consider someone who is a woman or a member of a racial minority and was previously confirmed to a judgeship by a strong majority in the U.S. Senate.

The process of filling the spot that was held by Scalia, one of the court's most conservative justices, has ignited a partisan battle in Washington.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not hold hearings on anyone nominated to the Supreme Court by Obama, a Democrat. Republicans who control the Senate do not want to see the court shift ideologically to the left and say the next justice should be picked by the winner of the Nov. 8 election.

Senate Democrats are demanding a vote on Obama's nomination.

Kelly, who worked as a lawyer in Iowa, is considered a strong candidate because she has been supported by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings on potential nominees.

RELATED: Landmark Supreme Court cases:

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White House interviewing 5 potential US Supreme Court nominees: Source
Demonstrators carrying giant keep abortion legal buttons & ...protect Roe vs. Wade sign during huge pro-choice march. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
1966: Since 1966 police have to advise a suspect that they have the right to remain silent and the right to counsel during interrogation. The so called 'Miranda Warning' after Ernesto Miranda who had a retrial because he was not so advised. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
1963: Petitiion by Clarence Earl Gideon to the Chief Justice of the United States against a sentence imposed by a Florida court because he had not had legal representation. This resulted in the 5th Amendment whereby any individual accused of a crime is guaranteed 'due processes of law'. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Linda Brown Smith, 9, is shown in this 1952 photo. Smith was a 3rd grader when her father started a class-action suit in 1951 of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., which led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 landmark decision against school segregation. (AP Photo)
African American students at a segregated school following the supreme court case Plessy vs Ferguson established Separate But Equal, 1896. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) This sketch shows White House Watergate Attorney James St. Claire arguing before the Supreme Court over whether President Nixon could assert executive privilege in withholding evidence demanded by Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworksi in the Watergate cover-up trial. The Justices are (L to R), Chief Justice Warren Burger; William Brennan; Byron White; Henry Blackmun; and at right is the chair normally occupied by William Rehnquist, who withdrew from this case.
Supporters of gay marriage wave the rainbow flag after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry at the Supreme Court in Washington June 26, 2015. The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
(Original Caption) Schenectady, New York: Despite a ruling from Education Commissioner Ewald B. Nyquist that prayer meetings in school are 'constitutionally impermissible,' several Mohonasen High School pupils continue to hold 10 minute prayer session at the school. The school board gave permission for the meetings even though the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled out prayer in public schools. Comm. Nyquist's ruling upset the school board's permission for the meetings, but the students, who pointed out that Congress and the state legislature open with prayers, decided to keep up the practice.
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