Obama starts interviewing candidates for Supreme Court vacancy: NPR

Waiting on the Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Barack Obama has started to interview candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, National Public Radio reported on Tuesday, citing sources close to the process.

Among the interviewees are Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; Judge Sri Srinivasan of the same court; Judge Paul Watford of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco; Judge Jane Kelly of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis; and U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves in Washington, D.C., NPR reported.

The first three of these individuals are considered the leading contenders, NPR said.

RELATED: Possible picks to replace Scalia

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Obama starts interviewing candidates for Supreme Court vacancy: NPR

Sri Srinivasan, Federal appeals court judge

(United States Department of Justice)

District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

(Photo via the United States District Court for the District of Columbia)

Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. Attorney General. 

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Paul Watford, currently a U.S. circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit.

(Photo by Bill Clark/Getty Images)

Jacquline Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American woman named to the state court in California.

(Photo by Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch earlier on Tuesday asked not to be considered as a nominee, the Justice Department said in a statement. Lynch had been rumored to be under consideration.

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.

RELATED: SCOTUS after the passing of Scalia

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Supreme Court - flag at half mast for Antonin Scalia - SCOTUS
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Obama starts interviewing candidates for Supreme Court vacancy: NPR
A candle is seen at the steps of the US Supreme Court February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC, following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, a fiery conservative who helped shape American legal thought, was first appointed to the highest court in the land in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, making him the first Italian-American to serve there. Scalia was 79. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A flag at the US Supreme Court is lowered to half staff February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC, following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, a fiery conservative who helped shape American legal thought, was first appointed to the highest court in the land in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, making him the first Italian-American to serve there. Scalia was 79. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: The American flag flies at half mast at the U.S. Supreme Court February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was at a Texas Ranch Saturday morning when he died at the age of 79. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13: A young man places a candle light in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., February 13, 2016, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia died today on a ranch near San Antonio, TX. He was 79. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The US Supreme Court is seen February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC, following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, a fiery conservative who helped shape American legal thought, was first appointed to the highest court in the land in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, making him the first Italian-American to serve there. Scalia was 79. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the US Capitol from the Supreme Court February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the US Supreme Court on February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a fiery conservative who helped shape American legal thought, died on February 13, 2016. He was 79. Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the high court, died in his sleep while on a hunting trip in Texas, local media reported. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
The US Capitol is seen from US Supreme Court February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who helped shape the legal thought of his time, has died, the governor of his home state of Texas confirmed Saturday, February 13, 2016. He was 79. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
The US Supreme Court is seen February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC, following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, a fiery conservative who helped shape American legal thought, was first appointed to the highest court in the land in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, making him the first Italian-American to serve there. Scalia was 79. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Republicans who control the U.S. Senate do not want to see the court shift ideologically to the left and have said they will not hold a vote on Obama's nominee. All appointees by the president to the Supreme Court are subject to approval by the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the next Supreme Court justice should be chosen by the winner of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

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