LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Garden Grove-born judge emerged Tuesday as a leading contender for President Barack Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Judge Paul J. Watford, who serves on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, is one of three judges the president is considering to replace Judge Antonin Scalia, according to the Los Angeles Times. The other two are from Washington.

Watford, who was born in Garden Grove, would be the third African American to sit on the nation’s highest court if nominated and confirmed. He would also be the fifth person from California, but only the first from Southern California, the newspaper reported.

When Watford, 48, was nominated to the 9th Circuit in 2011, he won glowing praise, even from prominent conservatives. He won Senate confirmation on a 61-34 vote, with the support of 52 Democrats and nine Republicans.

However, Republicans have made it clear they would oppose a Supreme Court nomination this late in the president’s term.

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