President Obama has just announced that Merrick Garland will be his pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court!
Garland, who has earned praise from lawmakers of both parties, is the chief judge of the Washington appeals court, where he has served since being appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997, winning confirmation in a 76-23 vote. Prior to that, he served in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.
Obama may be looking for a nominee who could convince the Republicans to change course. Garland could fit that bill with moderate record, background as a prosecutor and a history of drawing Republican support.
Garland was under consideration in 2009 for Obama’s first appointment but the president chose Sonia Sotomayor.
The Obama administration also regarded Garland as a future compromise choice if another vacancy opened in an election year with the Senate under Republican control, according to Obama advisers at the time and others weighing in on the current nomination. That is the situation now confronting Obama.
Presidents tend to pick nominees younger than Garland, so they can serve for decades and extend a president’s legacy. But Obama may reason that the choice of an older nominee might also entice Senate Republicans into considering Obama’s selection.
Obama already has named two justices to the Supreme Court: Sotomayor, who at 55 became the first Hispanic justice in 2009, and Elena Kagan, who was 50 when she became the fourth woman to ever serve on the court in 2010.
Another judge who had been a candidate for the post, Paul Watford, would be only the third black justice in U.S. history.
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