Obama nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court; McConnell won't take action on nominee

03/16/2016 06:59 PM

President Obama nominated federal appeals Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court Seat left vacant by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

The nomination is reigniting a fight on Capitol Hill between Obama and the GOP Senate led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is refusing to consider Obama’s nominee.

The 63-year-old Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He is largely considered to be a moderate, who has enjoyed bipartisan support through his career.

“To find someone with such a long career of public service, marked by complex and sensitive issues, to find someone who just about everyone not only respects, but genuinely likes, that is rare and it speaks to who Merrick Garland is,” Obama said of Garland in the White House Rose Garden.

An emotional Garland spoke briefly; calling the nomination the honor of his professional life.

“Fidelity to the Constitution and the law has been the cornerstone of my professional life,” Garland said. “And it’s the hallmark of the kind of judge I have tried to be for the past 18 years. If the Senate sees fit to confirm me to the position for which I have been nominated today, I promise to continue on that course.”

The nomination is unlikely to occur, as McConnell has vowed to deny a hearing on Obama’s nominee instead calling on the American people to decide via the presidential elections.

In a speech from the floor of the Senate, McConnell said it was Obama’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice “and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a President and withhold its consent.”

“As Chairman Grassley and I declared weeks ago, and reiterated personally to President Obama, the Senate will continue to observe the Biden Rule so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” McConnell said.

“The American people may well elect a President who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” McConnell continued. “The next President may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

McConnell referenced the 1992 words of the-Sen. Joe Biden on a hypothetical Supreme Court vacancy to help make his case.

The Washington Post called McConnell’s stance “Maddeningly brilliant and desperate,” in a headline.

The New York Times said the move from Obama was “essentially daring Republicans to press their election-year confirmation fight over a judge many of them have publicly praised and who would be difficult for them to reject, particularly if a Democrat were to win the November presidential election and they faced the prospect of a more liberal nominee in 2017.”

In his comments on Wednesday, Obama demanded that Senate Republicans give his nominee a fair hearing.

“I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up-or-down vote,” Obama said Wednesday. “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.”

Garland is expected to begin meeting legislators in the Capitol on Thursday. Several national outlets reported that McConnell “would not be holding a perfunctory meeting,” with the nominee but wished him well.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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