President Barack Obama has made his choice for a Supreme Court nominee to replace conservative Antonin Scalia; federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland. Various media sources confirmed Garland as Obama’s nominee Wednesday morning, March 16, 2016, including Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and CNN. President Obama sent out an email Wednesday morning to his supporters saying he will make the formal announcement at 11 a.m. ET in the White House Rose Garden.
In his email to supporters, Obama said of his nominee decision, “I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision. I’ve consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we’ve reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously.”
Garland, 63 is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was an appointee of Democrat and former President Bill Clinton. Garland is a graduate f Harvard and Harvard Law School, and a member of the Harvard Law review. Garland was Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, under President Jimmy Carter from 1979 to 1981.
Garland was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton Administration before his appointment to the federal appeals court. There Garland supervised the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing and UNABOM cases.
Senate Republicans have vowed not to vet or have confirmations hearing for any Obama nominee, saying the next president should make the decision. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley of Iowa have been adamant against any confirmation of a SCOTUS nominee.
McConnell commented on Tuesday, “We believe it’s not an unreasonable position to take to say to the American people in the course of this presidential election that their voice should be heard in this process, particularly where the balance of power on the Supreme Court is going to be determined perhaps for the next 25 or 30 years.”
Obama argues with ten months left in his presidency that it is within his constitutional right to nominate a replacement. Obama said in his email, “I’m confident you’ll share my conviction that this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote. I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee. That is what the Constitution dictates, and that’s what the American people expect and deserve from their leaders.”
According to CNN, Garland is “much older” than the other two judges on that were on Obama’s shortlist, Judges Sri Srinivasan and Paul Watford. He is also considered a consensus candidate. One of his backers has called Garland “the establishment of the establishment.” Obama’s nomination comes 32 days after Scalia’s death, and with careful consideration by the president hoping he offers a nominee Republicans will find it hard to refuse and will look bad to the voters.
President Obama’s announcement comes just a day after Super Tuesday 3 primaries in important states of Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, where Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton cemented their frontrunner status for the nominations. The timing of Obama’s announcement seems to imply the president wants to inject the SCOTUS as a divisive campaign issue. At this time, there are eight justices deciding cases, with equal partisan divisions.