President Barack Obama will nominate federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, NBC News has confirmed.
The 63-year-old chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has nearly two decades on the bench, and as a prosecutor, he oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing and “Unabomber” terror cases.
“I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision,” Obama said in an email to supporters early Wednesday. “I’ve consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we’ve reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously.”
Senate Republicans have vowed not to take any action on Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia, one of the conservative stalwarts of the Supreme Court, after his death in Texas last month. The White House has said it is determined to press forward with the confirmation process.
To Garland’s credit, he has a reputation as a moderate. Ironically, when he was floated as a potential nominee in 2010, the Washington Post reported that “Judge Merrick B. Garland probably won’t face conservative opposition. Instead, it could be liberals lining up against him.”
Obama will, of course, spin any Republican opposition as obstructionism, but only once in the past 100 years did a president try to nominate a Supreme Court Justice this close to an election (LBJ), and the Senate shot him down. Let’s not forget that when George W. Bush was in a similar situation, Congressional Democrats opposed him nominating a new justice.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]