In the past 24 hours, Obama phoned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), press secretary Josh Earnest said. Both senators have said replacing Scalia should be left to the next president.
Earnest described the calls as “entirely professional" and said Obama made clear "he is going to nominate someone.”
“He is committed to talking to Congress,” the spokesman added. “He reiterated his firm belief that the Senate has a constitutional obligation here as well.”
Obama spoke to Grassley Friday morning, after he co-authored an op-ed with McConnell in The Washington Post reiterating their stance the next president, and not Obama, should pick a replacement for the conservative jurist.
The president and his Democratic allies in Congress have said it would be irresponsible and unprecedented to leave a vacancy on the court that could last a year or more.
Earnest pointed out that both McConnell and Grassley supported the last Supreme Court nominee to receive a vote in a presidential election year: Anthony Kennedy in 1988.
“They know firsthand there is a clear precedent here,” Earnest said.
Over the weekend, Obama is expected to begin poring over materials compiled by his advisers about candidates for the high court. The files contain information about their records and professional careers, Earnest said.
Earnest indicated the White House hasn't settled on a final list of candidates for Obama to consider.
“The president does not have a shortlist, and the list has not been completed," he said. "This is the very beginning of the process.”