President Obama with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada during a joint news conference at the White House on Thursday.Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

 

Senate Democrats are eager for President Obama to announce his choice for the Supreme Court and to put a human face on their battle with Senate Republicans over filling the vacancy. And Mr. Obama said on Thursday that he thought it was “important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it’s important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of judges.”

But just what the timing will be remains unclear. Mr. Obama, in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, said he did not feel the need “to take shortcuts in terms of the selection and vetting process.”

Still, many on Capitol Hill expect the announcement to come before the Senate breaks next week for two weeks into early April, allowing Democrats to press a new front in the nomination fight just as Senate Republicans return home to face questions about it. And they anticipate that Mr. Obama would make a decision before he leaves on what will be a high-profile trip to Cuba on March 21.

But White House officials have made it clear that they are taking the search for and selection of a fitting nominee very seriously, despite Senate Republicans’ pledge to not engage in a confirmation process at all. They say the president will not be rushed into what he considers one of the most important decisions in the role.

Mr. Obama did offer some detail on Thursday on the qualities he would seek in a nominee.

“Obviously, it’s somebody who I want to make sure follows the Constitution; cares about things like stare decisis and precedent; understands the necessary humility of a judge at any level in looking at statute, looking at what the elected branches are doing; is not viewing themselves as making law or, in some ways, standing above elected representatives,” he said. Notably, he added that he wanted to be sure the nominee “recognizes the critical role that that branch plays in protecting minorities to ensuring that the political system doesn’t skew in ways that systematically leave people out.”