President Barack Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Having enjoyed bipartisan support throughout his career, Garland’s nomination will challenge Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold a hearing (video below).
On March 16, President Obama held a press conference before the White House, flanked by both Vice President Joe Biden and 63-year-old Judge Garland, The New York Times reports.
President Obama commended Garland as “not only one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence.”
Obama proceeded to challenge the Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has stated that his colleagues will not even meet with any individual nominated by the president, let alone hold a vote.
“I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote,” President Obama said. “If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.”
Judge Garland, his voice choked with emotion, accepted the president’s nomination.
“This is the greatest honor of my life,” Garland said.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had actually stated that Garland was one of the few nominees Obama could offer that would merit his consideration, Thinkprogress reports.
The Utah senator had dismissed the possibility, adding “he probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election… I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”
Garland is a 19 year veteran of the D.C. Circuit, one of the most powerful courts in the U.S. He is a graduate from Harvard Law, clerked for former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, and supervised the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers.
A personal friend of the conservative-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts, Garland has been described as a moderate who has been confirmed with bipartisan support throughout his career.
Shortly after Garland’s nomination leaked to the press, Sen. McConnell took to the podium to announce that his GOP colleagues would not change their position, CNN reports.
“We think the people should choose as we’ve said repeatedly,” McConnell stated.