The administration official told me that even though Obama believes the Republicans will make it a bitter fight all summer, he'll still attempt to reach out to ranking Judiciary Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and others for their input.
The first sense of where Obama is headed with his choice will come tomorrow when he speaks with Democratic and Republican Senate leaders he's summoned to the White House to discuss the vacancy. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday that Obama will ask them for names they are interested in seeing on his long list of possibilities. Obama also will urge them to follow a timeline that he believes is "doable" for confirming his pick before the Senate adjourns in August.
The administration official said Obama remains "very early in this process" since the nuclear summit with world leaders commanded much of his attention last week. But, the official said, Obama can "pick up where he left off" in last year's selection process.
Case in point: Tom Fitton of the conservative Judicial Watch group told me in an interview that all of the names on Obama's so-called short list so far are unacceptable and seem to be reliable liberal votes.
Fitton's theory is that progressive groups bemoaning the potential shift in the court makeup are doing so in a "strategic" fashion. "Most progressives will be perfectly happy with who he nominates," Fitton said.
Fitton also thinks that Obama is walking on dangerous ground when it comes to the filibuster -- and said the president took a "very radical" approach to health care.
"If he approaches the judicial pick like he approached health care he can expect a filibuster," Fitton said.
Marge Baker, executive vice president of the liberal People for the American Way, told me in an interview that her group hopes Obama chooses someone who can "act for the common good" and that progressives have privately been suggesting names to the White House.
"It's a bigger conversation than ideology, however," Baker said. "This is an opportunity for our country to have a very very profound conversation about not just what the court is about but what our country is about."