A look at what President Barack Obama has said about potential nominees to the Supreme Court:
During Friday's White House press briefing:
-- ''Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice (David) Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as president, so I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook; it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time.''
During an Oct. 15, 2008, presidential debate, Obama was asked whether he could nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with him on Roe v. Wade:
-- ''Well, I think it's true that we shouldn't apply a strict litmus test and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people. And it is true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe versus Wade probably hangs in the balance. ... So this is going to be an important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.''
During a Democratic primary debate on Nov. 15, 2007, Obama was asked whether he would insist that any nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court supported abortion rights for women:
-- ''I would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right to privacy. ... I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it's not just the particular issue and how they ruled. But it's their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout. ... Sometimes we're only looking at academics or people who've been in the courts. If we can find people who have life experience, and they understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them, that's the kind of person I want on the Supreme Court.''
During a July 17, 2007, appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference:
-- ''We need somebody who's got the heart to recognize -- the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges.''
On the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, Sept. 22, 2005. Obama voted against Roberts' confirmation:
--''What matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.
''In those 5 percent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions or whether the commerce clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce, whether a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are nondisabled -- in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.''