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What we know about Biden's Supreme Court opening

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not answer the many questions reporters had on Tuesday about when President Biden would interview Supreme Court candidates.
Alex Wong
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Getty Images
White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not answer the many questions reporters had on Tuesday about when President Biden would interview Supreme Court candidates.

The Biden White House — and the Biden presidential campaign before it — is a largely leak-free operation.

When then-candidate Joe Biden interviewed vice presidential contenders in 2020, hardly any details slipped out about who he was meeting to interview for the job. No one reported that then-Sen. Kamala Harris was his pick until the Biden campaign announced it itself.

(It helped the campaign's cause that the veep vetting played out during the peak of the pandemic, when things were all remote. Zoom meetings are harder to stake out than in-person ones.)

Biden has said he will make up his mind by the end of February

The White House appears equally determined to make sure Biden's nominee to the Supreme Court — a person he's vowed will be the first Black woman ever nominated — will be unveiled the same way: on the White House's terms, and at the exact moment when the White House is ready to announce it.

So despite the fact that Biden's self-imposed deadline to name a nominee by the end of the month is rapidly approaching, and despite the fact that Biden's public schedule is exceptionally light this week — making it a good window to, say, sit down for extended interviews with potential justices — the administration is not giving any public hints about whether or not that's taking place.

"I'm not going to ask you if the president's meeting today, or soon, with Supreme Court nominees," one reporter said. "What if I was prepared to answer it today?" Psaki teased. But — she was not.
Patrick Semansky / AP
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AP
"I'm not going to ask you if the president's meeting today, or soon, with Supreme Court nominees," one reporter said. "What if I was prepared to answer it today?" Psaki teased. But — she was not.

The White House won't say when or if Biden has done interviews

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters she wouldn't be providing any details this week on potential candidate interviews.

CBS's Ed O'Keefe attempted to poke at that stance early on in Wednesday's briefing. "I'm not going to ask you if the president's meeting today, or soon, with Supreme Court nominees."

"What if I was prepared to answer it today," Psaki teased. "You're missing out."

Was news about to break? Not quite.

"I am not going to," Psaki immediately clarified.

"Will you tell us when the interviews are complete?" NPR asked a few minutes later, trying to get at the question from another angle.

"Unlikely."

And what did Biden mean by 'about four' candidates, anyway?

A few minutes later, one more attempt to pry news from a press secretary determined to avoid it. "When the president said the other day that he was considering 'about four nominees,' did he mean three?" asked New York Times reporter Michael Shear.

No luck. "The president meant about four, and I don't have anything further to add," Psaki said.

For the record, NPR and other outlets have reported that those "about four" serious contenders are federal Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Krueger and federal District Judge J. Michelle Childs.

Any one of them could be meeting with Biden this week. Or next week. Or, perhaps, they've already met. The White House won't say.

"The president will tell you when there's a nominee," Psaki insisted. "The good news is, March 1st is around the corner."

Coincidentally, March 1 just happens to be the day Biden will deliver his first State of the Union speech.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

"The president will tell you when there's a nominee," Psaki told reporters trying to draw out hints about the process. "The good news is, March 1st is around the corner."
Patrick Semansky / AP
/
AP
"The president will tell you when there's a nominee," Psaki told reporters trying to draw out hints about the process. "The good news is, March 1st is around the corner."