And Napolitano, a former governor and U.S. attorney, is eyed as someone who would bring much experience from outside the courtroom.
White House officials are bracing for another partisan fight over the president's second Supreme Court nomination. Many anticipate that short of Obama nominating an avowed conservative to the high court's bench, Senate Republicans will paint the eventual nominee as a liberal ideologue.
Confirmation of the president's nominee requires only a simply majority of the Senate and there is a chance Republicans will filibuster, although some have downplayed the idea.
"It is unlikely that there would be a filibuster, except if there is an extraordinary circumstance," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." But "I'm never going to take it off the table.
"What I object to, and I think my colleagues would object to is somebody that comes in with preconceived notions about how particular cases should be decided," Kyl said.
But Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings to review qualifications of a president's nominee, say Obama will likely nominate a centrist to avoid a long, drawn-out fight.
"It's just about a certainty that the president will nominate someone in the mainstream, so the likelihood of a filibuster is tiny," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on "This Week."
The president hopes to name his candidate in time to allow for summer confirmation hearings and to seat the new justice before the fall term.