The National Law Forum

The Blog of the The National Law Review

President Obama Announces Merrick Garland as Nominee to United States Supreme Court

In a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia’s on the United States Supreme Court.  Garland would be the 113th justice, and he is a moderate circuit court judge who is well-respected by both Republicans and Democrats.

Finding Scalia’s replacement has already been contentious, but Garland is uniquely situated to handle the politics at hand.  In the mid-90’s, Garland faced a lengthy political battle that delayed his confirmation for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Obama has made it clear that he intends to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, despite calls that the decision wait for the next president.  Obama, in an email to his supporters indicated three tenets in his decision-making process.  He said he was looking for, “an independent mind, unimpeachable credentials and an unquestionable mastery of law” as well as an understanding of the limits of the court and that “justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook.”

Garland’s career has encompassed these tenets, as he used the law in emotional and difficult situations.  In 1995, he coordinated the Justice Department’s response to the Oklahoma City Bombing, immediately arriving on scene.  His hard work and dedication in that role helped cement his reputation and earned him respect on both sides of the aisle. In his formal announcement in the White House Rose Garden this morning, President Obama described Garland as:

More than just a brilliant legal mind. He is someone who has a keen understanding that justice is about more than abstract legal theory. More than some footnote in a dusty casebook. His life experience…informs his view that the law is more than an intellectual exercise. He understands the way the law affects the daily reality of how the law affects people’s lives in a big complicated democracy and rapidly changing times.

Garland, at 63, is an older nominee.  As a centrist nominee he has been on the list of potential nominees for years. Obama has made it clear that he thinks the Senate should move quickly to consider the nomination, as Garland is a qualified and suitable candidate for the job.  However, the nomination could be contentious, as Republican Senators have indicated an unwillingness to consider a candidate.  Additionally, with the court being evenly split, Garland, if confirmed, would be the deciding vote on many issues.

The White house has created a twitter handle @SCOTUSnom to provide up-to-date information on the nomination process.

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