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Obama chooses Merrick Garland for Supreme Court

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Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
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President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy of Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday, setting up an election year battle with Republicans who have vowed they would not meet with his candidate.

Speaking at a Rose Garden ceremony on Wednesday, Obama said that Garland was “one of America’s sharpest legal minds” and “uniquely prepared to serve immediately.”

But he also issued a challenge to Senate Republicans, calling on them to give Garland a “fair hearing” and an “up-or-down vote.”

“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,” Obama said Wednesday. “The reputation of the Supreme Court will inevitably suffer, faith in our justice system will inevitably suffer, our democracy will ultimately suffer as well.”

Garland, 63, serves as the chief judge of the appeals courts in Washington, D.C. and was also a finalist for the first two Supreme Court vacancies Obama filled.

Garland was confirmed in 1997 with 32 Republicans voting in support of his nomination. Seven of those senators still serve in the Senate, but it’s not clear that any of them will vote for Garland now.

Garland became chief judge of the D.C. federal appeals court in February 2013.

Speaking after Obama, Garland called his nomination “the greatest honor of my life,” next to marrying his wife, Lynn.

“There could be no higher public service than serving as a member of the United States Supreme Court,” Garland said.

Republican lawmakers have said since Scalia’s death that Obama should leave the choice of a new justice to his successor, vowing not to hold a hearing or a vote on the president’s pick.

Ahead of the announcement, Republicans were already gearing up for a fight.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor Tuesday that “the next Supreme Court justice could dramatically change the direction of the court,” and that Americans deserve to “weigh in.”

And on Monday, the Republican Party launched a task force to campaign against Obama’s eventual nominee.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told The Associated Press that the RNC planned to “make sure Democrats have to answer to the American people for why they don’t want voters to have a say in this process.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Republicans were planning to “tear down the President’s nominee without regard to who that person is.”

“They’re only doing this because of their partisan differences with the President of the United States. Even Republicans themselves acknowledge that this treatment of a Supreme Court nominee is totally unprecedented,” Earnest told reporters, adding that the Republican response would not have “any impact” on the president’s choice of nominee.

Obama met with Republican and Democratic senators earlier this month about the vacant Supreme Court seat, and emerged from the Oval Office meeting still divided on the path forward.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont denounced their Republican colleagues, saying that Republicans seemed unwilling to budge.

After the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he looked forward “to the American people deciding who they want to make this appointment through their own vote.”




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