President Obama announced Wednesday he is nominating Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, setting up a protracted political fight with Republicans who have vowed to block any candidate picked by the White House.
Garland, 63, is a longtime Washington lawyer and jurist who is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Considered a moderate, Garland is widely respected in the D.C. legal community and was also a finalist for the first two Supreme Court vacancies Obama filled.
Seven sitting Republican senators voted to confirm Garland in 1997: Dan Coats, Ind., Thad Cochran, Miss., Susan Collins, Maine, Orrin Hatch, Utah, James M. Inhofe, Okla., John McCain, Ariz., and Pat Roberts, Kan.
GOP lawmakers, though, have said since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last month that Obama should leave the choice of a new justice to his successor and that they have no intention of holding a hearing or a vote on the president’s pick.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said “the next Supreme Court justice could dramatically change the direction of the court” and Americans deserved to “weigh in” before that happens.