Federal appeals court Judge Sidney Thomas of Montana was granted the first formal interview by President Obama Thursday in his search for a replacement to retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
In its report, the Associated Press points out that Thomas is held in high regard in the legal world and shows “that Obama is giving a hard review to a candidate who comes outside the Washington Beltway and does not neatly fit into conventional wisdom.”
Thomas, who sits on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, was also interviewed by Vice President Joe Biden in a separate meeting, anonymous sources told the AP.
Thomas joins what is considered Obama’s short list of potential nominees along with Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appeals court judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland.
A spokesman for President Obama had said Obama would be speaking to candidates this week, but declined to offer specifics.