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Klobuchar, Kelly make the court watch list

WASHINGTON -- Even as practical, political and legal chaos reigned after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death Saturday, list-makers were speculating on possible replacements.The lists are traditional when a spot opens up but someti...

WASHINGTON - Even as practical, political and legal chaos reigned after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death Saturday, list-makers were speculating on possible replacements.
The lists are traditional when a spot opens up but sometimes hold little currency. But for those who land on the lists, it’s always nice to be mentioned.
Minnesota legislators weighed in on the partisan debate over when the vacancy on the country’s highest court. A former Hennepin County Attorney and now member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a statement the Supreme Court post should be filled “without delay.”
“The President has a constitutional duty to put forth a nominee and the Senate has a constitutional duty to act,” Klobuchar said.
That was echoed by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“In 2012, the American people decisively elected President Obama to serve a second four-year term,” he said in a statement. “Because a new President will take office in 11 months is not a sound reason for leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court.”
Two Midwesterners are among those being mentioned:

U.S. Sen. Klobuchar

The two-term senator has been mentioned before. In 2009, just two years into her first term, speculation arose that President Barack Obama could pick her to replace retiring Justice David Souter. The job went to Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
But the features that made Klobuchar an attractive candidate seven years ago have only been amplified since. She is popular among Republicans and Democrats, working with both in the Senate and getting elected in divided Minnesota with 65 percent of the vote four years ago.
She is a former Hennepin County attorney and a graduate of Yale University and the highly competitive University of Chicago law school. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton likely would fill any Senate vacancy should Klobuchar get the job. Although Klobuchar is an attorney, she has not served as a judge, which may weigh against a potential nomination.

Federal judge Kelly

Based in Iowa, Kelly was appointed three years ago to serve as a judge on the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals. The 8th Circuit includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
An Indiana native, Kelly attended Harvard Law School with Obama and served as a federal public defender in Iowa before joining the bench. Many U.S. senators have already given a nod to her judicial abilities - in April 2013, 96 voted to confirm her to the federal bench, including now-presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz.
“I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me,” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said at the time. Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Whomever Obama nominates may have an even harder-than-usual path to confirmation: Republican leaders have already indicated they do not plan to approve any nominee Obama proposes, given the upcoming presidential election.
John Hageman, a reporter with Forum News Service, contributed to this report. The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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