President Obama Announced His Supreme Court Nominee

March 16th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

After weeks of speculation, President Barack Obama announced Merrick Garland — the Chief Justice for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — as his U.S. Supreme Court nominee on Wednesday. The nomination of Garland, who is noted for his centrist positions, could test the commitment of Senate Republicans who have vowed to block any of the President's picks to replace recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.

At least one member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had previously expressed openness to Garland as a potential nominee. On Sunday, Hatch told Newsmax that "[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man," but added that he "probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [Democratic base] wants."


In a speech in the Rose Garden, Obama described Garland as a sharp legal mind who "brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, evenhandedness, and excellence."


"I have fulfilled my constitutional duty. Now it's time for the Senate to do theirs."

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"These qualities and his long commitment to public services have earned him the respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle," Obama said. "He will ultimately bring that same character to bear on the Supreme Court, an institution in which he is uniquely prepared to serve immediately."

During his brief remarks, Garland suggested he would follow the letter of the law if appointed to the Supreme Court. "[A judge] must put aside personal feelings and biases and follow the law. Not make it," he said. 

The controversy over the Supreme Court nomination

Shortly after the death of Scalia, a noted champion of conservative values, Senate Republicans vowed to block any nominee under the Obama administration. However, the president has maintained that it is his constitutional duty to nominate a justice during his final term.

Each of the Republican presidential candidates have voiced opposition to the selection of a Supreme Court nominee during the election year, as well. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, have condemned delays to the process. A CNN/ORC poll showed that 58 percent of Americans wanted Obama to nominate a justice whereas 41 percent said that the next president should make that decision.

President Obama's Supreme Court shortlist

The president's Supreme Court shortlist became a source of much speculation in recent days, as congressional sources floated various names as potential picks. That list reportedly included Sri Srinivasan, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Paul Watford, a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, as well as Garland.

Garland is considered a centrist who could appeal to Senate Republicans concerned about the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court bench following the death of Scalia, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1986. But opposition to any nominee during the election year remains strong and the chances that the Senate will hold a vote on Garland's prospective appointment are slim, The New York Times reports.

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