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Obama agenda: SCOTUS, immigration

"President Obama has sandwiched final interviews for a new Supreme Court justice in between meetings on the emergencies in New York and the Gulf of Mexico, and is poised to announce his decision any day," the Washington Post says. "Even as Washington's attention Tuesday was riveted on the capture of a Pakistani American suspect in the failed bombing in Times Square, Obama quietly interviewed Judge Diane Wood, the fourth candidate he has met with as he prepares to nominate a replacement for the outgoing justice, John Paul Stevens." 

White House adviser David Axelrod tells the AP that Obama is seeking the Stevens-like "spark and leadership" from the replacement. Axelrod said, "You can't replace someone's 34 years on the court, but you are mindful of the fact that he was a leader on the court, and you want someone who can provide that kind of spark and leadership -- if not immediately, then over time. He senses that responsibility." But he also noted building consensus is important: "The court is ultimately a consensual body. It takes a majority to act, and even if you're not in the majority, you can influence how the majority opinions are written. You can influence how dissents are approached. Your ability to bring others along ... that's an important quality."

The four front-runners, according to the AP: "Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appeals court judges Diane Wood, Merrick Garland and Sidney Thomas."

The New York Times profiles Thomas. "Judge Thomas, 56, who sits on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, is being considered for a seat on the United States Supreme Court; he met with President Obama last Thursday. He is, by most accounts, a long shot on the short list, but supporters say he represents the values the president has said he wants: 'a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people.'"    

"President Barack Obama said Wednesday he wants to begin work this year on legislation overhauling the nation's immigration system, firming up his commitment on a key priority for Latino voters and lawmakers," the AP writes. "Obama's comments at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House reaffirmed his long-held support for immigration reform. He went a step further than he has in the past by calling for the work to begin this year." 

"President Obama showed a sense of humor today about the controversy that threatened the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor," The Hill writes, adding his comments from last night's Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House: "Many of those appointments are Latinas. Wise Latinas, undoubtedtly," he said, prompting laughter.

Turning to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles Times writes, "Efforts on Wednesday to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill centered on a towering metal box the size of a four-story building that engineering teams hope will corral the crude that continues to spout from the seafloor. If the ambitious plan works, it could capture much of the 200,000 gallons of oil spewing daily from a well blowout and keep it from fattening the slick that threatens a coastline from Louisiana to Florida. The oil would be pumped nearly a mile up to a tanker ship." 

"Developments about the spill from the BP rig have dominated the websites of the green groups, which have used the incident to galvanize their membership as well as raise funds," Roll Call writes.

100%! The small town of Erving, MA, "has a distinction no other community in Massachusetts can claim. Its residents recorded a 100 percent response to the 2010 US Census. Town officials attributed the feat to small town pride, belief that an accurate count really matters, and a chance to send a 'we'll-show-'em' message to Washington. For decades, Erving tolerated ZIP code confusion, mislabeled mail, and Washington's bureaucratic inattention to the problem, town officials said. In their eyes, the perfect score is driven by a fed-up determination to make sure everyone knows who lives in the town," the Boston Globe reports.