EDGARTOWN, Mass. (CNN) — President Barack Obama thinks he’ll have the chance to nominate at least one more Supreme Court justice before his term in the White House is up.
Speaking to Democratic supporters at a fundraiser on Monday in Martha’s Vineyard, Obama used the potential decision to elicit support for Democrats, who he said needed to maintain control of the U.S. Senate in order for his picks to be confirmed.
“That’s why I need a Democratic Senate,” he said. “Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments, and there are going to be a whole host of issues that many people here care about that are going to be determined by whether or not Democrats retain the Senate.”
Republicans, he said, think “solely in terms of their own ideological purposes and solely in terms of how do they hang on to power.”
A White House official said later Obama “meant to convey the important role the Senate would play in the event of a Supreme Court vacancy.”
His remarks “were not in reference to a specific vacancy,” the official said.
Retirement speculation at the high court has centered mostly around liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who at 81 says she has no plans to step down.
“All I can say is that I am still here and likely to remain for a while,” she told Katie Couric earlier this summer.
Democrats worry that if they lose control of the Senate, high court nominees will be blocked by Republicans. A rule enacted by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid last year to eliminate filibusters for presidential nominations excluded Supreme Court picks, meaning in order to get a potential justice through the Senate, Obama may be forced to choose a less-liberal jurist.
During his time in office Obama has nominated two Supreme Court justices: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.