President Obama said finding a replacement for Supreme Court Justice David Souter is “among my most serious responsibilities,” and he predicted a new justice would be on the court when its next term begins in October.

Obama said he would consult with Democrats and Republicans.

The president made those remarks during a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room today. Obama said he had just finished a phone call with Souter.

I am incredibly grateful for his dedicated service,” Obama said. “He never sought to promote a political agenda and he consistently defied labels and rejected absolutes, focusing instead on just one task: reaching a just result in the case that was before him.”

Obama said he would seek a nominee with a “sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book. It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives.”

Obama said his nominee would be one who is “dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.”

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