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President Barack Obama on Thursday signaled that his announcement of a Supreme Court nominee could come soon, saying the nation's highest court needs to operate at full strength.
 
Obama did not say when he would reveal his choice to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month. Senate Republicans have promised to ignore the nominee.

"I think it's important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it's important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of justices," he said during a White House news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Obama said he wants an "outstanding jurist" with "impeccable legal credentials, who, by historical standards, would not even be questioned as qualified for the court."

In the hours after Scalia's death in mid-February, Senate Republican leaders pledged to block any Obama nominee, saying the president who is elected in November should get to make that pick.

"So in terms of who I select, I'm going to do my job," Obama said. "And then my expectation is going to be will the Senate do its job as outlined in the Constitution?"

Obama brushed aside the notion that the contentious confirmation process would limit his field of potential choices. His advisers planned to discuss the vacancy at the White House on Thursday with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I don't feel constrained in terms of the pool to draw from or that I'm having to take shortcuts in terms of the selection and vetting process," he said.

In his search for a successor to Scalia, Obama is zeroing in on a small group of appellate court judges with largely traditional credentials and a history of bipartisan backing.


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