Obama Announces SCOTUS Nom

Pres picks a moderate; Republicans still not happy

Today, March 16, President Barack Obama announced that he is nominating Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Merrick Garland to be the 113th U.S. Supreme Court Justice, calling him "uniquely prepared to serve immediately."

President Obama during his SXSW Interactive keynote (photo by Gary Miller)

Garland, whom Obama described as "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, even-handedness and excellence," is a 63-year-old, Harvard-educated, 19-year veteran of the D.C. Circuit Court.

Before being appointed to that court, Garland worked as a deputy attorney general and then principal deputy attorney general for the Department of Justice, overseeing high-profile federal cases, most notably the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. When Garland's name was mentioned as a potential SCOTUS nominee in 2010, the New York Times looked back on Garland's work on the case: "Several prosecutors who worked on the case said Mr. Garland worked tirelessly to help run the investigation from a command center in a telephone company building blocks from the blast site; overseeing search warrants, interacting with other law enforcement agencies and meeting with surviving victims."

Garland is widely regarded as a moderate, and Obama's choice of Garland is perhaps an attempt to mollify Republican lawmakers who have promised to block any nomination the outgoing president made. Senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, had told right-wing news site Newsmax on Friday, March 11, that "the President told me several times he’s going to name a moderate, but I don’t believe him ... he could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man ... He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election." Hatch previously voiced his opinion of Garland as a potential SCOTUS nominee in 2010, telling Reuters there would be "no question" Garland would receive bipartisan support.

However, Republicans are not mollified. Gov. Greg Abbott quickly issued an official statement saying, "It is essential that the Supreme Court vacancy be filled with a true Constitutionalist in the form of Justice Scalia. Americans have grown concerned about the role of the Supreme Court in America today, and because this is one of the pivotal issues in the current presidential election, Americans should have the opportunity to vote for a president who will fill this vacancy," perhaps forgetting about the 2012 election, where Americans did in fact get a chance to vote for Obama.

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