The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Drew Angerer—Bloomberg/Getty Images
March 2, 2016 5:08 PM EST

The White House may be vetting Judge Jane L. Kelly as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court.

Kelly, a federal appellate judge, is the subject of a background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a report by the New York Times, citing an unnamed person familiar with the situation. The White House has remained tight lipped during the search to fill the vacancy since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.

The Senate swiftly confirmed Kelly unanimously three years ago for her current post on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

She is highly regarded in legal circles in Iowa, according to the Times report, and which could push Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who has previously praised Kelly, into an awkward position if he refuses to hold a hearing on her.

Grassley has thus far said the committee would not entertain a Supreme Court nomination from the White House until Obama is out of office.

If brought on to the Supreme Court, Kelly would be the only public defender serving on the nation’s highest court.

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