President Obama Nominates Merrick Garland, But GOP Repeats History

Obama Appoints Garland

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland as his candidate for the Supreme Court at 11 a.m. today, while the world watched.

Given his history, one may wonder if Garland’s tenacity is part of the appeal. He has faced Republican opposition in the past, and will now be facing the same people who oppose him as chosen successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly in February.

Prior to today’s announcement, two Democratic sources confirmed with ABC News that Mr. Garland is President Obama’s choice. He is a judicial moderate who currently serves as chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The president hopes that this choice will appeal to the GOP in order to expedite the appointment and fill the vacancy.

Garland, a 1977 Harvard Law School graduate, is 63-years-old. He would be one of the oldest judges ever appointed to Supreme court. He served as a federal prosecutor before becoming a judge. He led the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing and of Theodore Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber. Garland is described as “brilliant.”

But Republicans, with an emphasis on Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, are determined that no Supreme Court appointment will happen until after President Obama leaves office in November. Grassley contends that an attempt by Democrats to nominate a new Supreme Court judge now are only instigated to “score political points.”

In a 15-minute speech at a committee meeting Thursday, Grassley said that any attempt by Democrats to change his mind would be futile.

“I think we need to be crystal clear, it won’t work.”

Ironically, it was Grassley who stood in the way in 1995, when then-President Bill Clinton appointed Garland as White House Counsel. The New York Times reported that even then, Garland had a reputation of being astute and moderate and was not directly criticized by any Republicans.

However, Grassley put the brakes on due to the fact that there were already too many judges in the circuit court. Grassley insisted that it was nothing personal.

“The issue is not Mr. Garland. Clearly the evidence does not support filling the vacancy at a cost to taxpayers of $1 million a year.”

Garland persevered for over a year while the stalemate locked him out of his newly appointed role.

Grassley isn’t alone in his stance. According to Slate, the Republican Judiciary Committee members are “unanimously opposed to the idea.”

The story quoted a Talking Points memo.

“The Republican members of the Judiciary Committee were unanimous in agreeing not to move forward with any Obama nominee for the Supreme Court, said [Senator John] Cornyn, who was in the meeting. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who was not in the meeting, later said that GOP senators were told at their weekly lunch that the Judiciary Committee Republicans were in unanimous agreement on the strategy.”

The debate is expected to heat up today on the White House’s newly created Twitter account as the world waits in anticipation for the new nominee and what will unfold afterward. For now, the account is filled with gentle reminders about due process, history, and doing the right thing.

When speaking about the Supreme Court appointment, President Obama spent some time asking the Senate to support his decision. He made the statement that this action “[i]s supposed to be above politics. It has to be.”

According to Politics USA, senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that Obama’s nomination of Garland would not be considered. Following this announcement, Senator Mark Kirk broke with Republican leadership and said he would consider Garland based on qualifications.

[Image via Rena Schild/Shutterstock]