Below, a White House statement on the timing of Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.
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"Since Justice Stevens announced his retirement, the President spent many hours reviewing the records and backgrounds of a broad array of candidates to fill the vacancy. He searched for candidates that met the criteria he outlined the day the vacancy opened: a nominee with an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people. As well as a nominee, like Justice Stevens, who knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.
Some of the candidates he had met before, some he had considered after Justice Souter stepped down, and some were new to him during this process. The White House Counsel's office prepared stacks of material on each candidate for the President that included their academic writings, briefs, speeches, and other information for his firsthand review.
The President began to focus with more intensity on several of the candidates. He interviewed Judge Merrick Garland on April 16th, Judge Sidney Thomas on April 29th, Solicitor General Elena Kagan on April 30th, and Judge Diane Wood on May 4th. Throughout this process, the President met with members of his senior staff and members of the Counsel's office to walk through the records of the nominees in further detail.
The Vice President and his staff were actively engaged in the process. The Vice President had dinner with Judge Garland at his residence in late March. He had breakfast with General Kagan at the residence on April 27th. He interviewed Judge Thomas on April 29th and Judge Wood on May 4th.
As the President neared his decision, he and the Vice President discussed candidates during their weekly lunch last Tuesday and again while the Vice President traveled in Europe.
On Sunday, the President made a decision to nominate Elena Kagan. Before the decision was made and for many hours throughout the weekend, the confirmation team worked off of rollout scenarios for multiple candidates.
At 8:00 PM on Sunday, the President called Solicitor General Kagan to inform her that she had been selected as the nominee. He then called Dean Martha Minow, Judge Merrick Garland, Judge Diane Wood, and Judge Sidney Thomas to inform them of his decision.
At 8:30 AM this morning, the President called and spoke with Senators Reid, McConnell and Leahy about his nominee to the Supreme Court and tried to reach Senator Sessions."