By Bronte Price, PoliticKING
President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, an appellate court judge and former prosecutor, to the Supreme Court to fill the open seat left after the recent death of Antonin Scalia. Garland was considered as a nominee twice before, but was passed over when Obama chose Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. He is viewed as a moderate whose legal approach is shaped by his long career as a federal prosecutor.
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Obama spoke from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, announcing Garland’s nomination. The president praised Garland for his readiness for the job and his history of support from both Republicans and Democrats. "He has earned respect and admiration from both sides of the aisle," Obama said, emphasising Garland’s "decency, integrity and even-handedness."
"He is uniquely prepared to serve immediately," the president added.
While accepting the nomination, Garland, who is 63, acknowledged his parents and family saying, "There could be no higher public service than serving on the Supreme Court."
Garland, was a former prosecutor who supervised both the Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber cases in the US. He was confirmed to the DC Circuit in 1997. He was backed from a majority in both parties, including seven current Republicans senators.
Before making the announcement this morning, Obama sent an email to supporters, saying that he had devoted a "considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision" and consulted with outside experts and groups.
"In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I'm doing my job," Obama wrote. "I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee."
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Republicans who control the Senate, must confirm any nominee, however the party's leaders want to leave the choice to the next president. Their hope is to deny Obama a chance to shift the ideological balance of the court in a liberal direction.
Following the announcement on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell shot down the idea of Merrick Garland getting a hearing. He insisted in a floor speech that the seat should be filled by the next president. “The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the court’s direction," McConnell said.
The party's chairman, Reince Priebus, described the Republicans’ counter efforts as their most comprehensive judicial response effort ever.
Here’s what George Mitchell has to say about the battle of the SCOTUS nomination:
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