On Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, saying the top judge on the influential DC Circuit has earned the respect of both Republicans and Democrats and is “uniquely prepared to serve immediately.”
“I’ve selected a nominee who is widely recognized, not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, evenhandedness, and excellence,” Obama said in a press conference from the Rose Garden with Vice President Joe Biden and Garland. “These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle. Today I am nominating Chief Judge Merrick Brian Garland to join the Supreme Court.”
Garland called the president’s nomination the “greatest honor of his life” and was visibly emotional in his acceptance speech. His nomination should now be considered by the Senate. But following the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings and vowed to block any of Obama’s nominations to replace the late justice’s seat on the bench. They argue the next justice should be the choice of the next president.
Obama has hit back at such demands, slamming Republicans for politicizing the court system.
“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” Obama said after Scalia’s death. “When there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court, the president of the United States is to nominate someone. The Senate is to consider that nomination—and either they disapprove of that nominee or that nominee is elevated to the Supreme Court. Historically, this has not been viewed as a question.”
Obama stressed the same point Wednesday: “In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty, I’m doing my job. 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.”