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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling senators who will play key roles in the confirmation process once he names a Supreme Court nominee.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that the president had phoned Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to discuss the vacancy created by Justice David Souter's announced retirement.
Both senators are members of the Judiciary Committee. It will hold hearings before the Senate votes on whether to confirm Obama's eventual choice.
Hatch is a Republican. Specter recently switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party.
Gibbs said the search process began "some time ago" as White House aides regularly go through the backgrounds of possible nominees.
Statement from the Office of Sen. Orrin Hatch:
"In a phone conversation [Monday], Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) urged President Obama against choosing a judicial activist for the Supreme Court vacancy. He advised the president to choose a nominee who is more in step with mainstream America and would uphold the rule of law. The president assured Hatch that this was his intention, that he would appoint a pragmatist, not a radical, to this important position."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)