President Obama has accelerated his search for his next Supreme Court nominee, meeting in the Oval Office with one of the candidates, federal judge Sidney Thomas of Montana, a person familiar with the conversation says. Obama's meeting with Thomas yesterday was his first known formal interview for the upcoming vacancy on the court. He's holding conversations with other candidates, but it's unclear whether he's had any other face-to-face meetings.
VP Joe Biden interviewed Thomas at the White House in a separate meeting yesterday, the source said. The personal time devoted to Thomas suggests that the 9th circuit appeals court judge, who is known as an independent straight shooter, is higher on Obama's list than previously suspected. Thomas would stand out in a court dominated by Northeastern Ivy Leaguers: He's from Colorado and went to the University of Montana.