The president, who appeared with Garland for the morning Rose Garden announcement, praised the 63-year-old Washington lawyer and jurist’s history of public service as a federal prosecutor, his work for the Department of Justice and as the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Stressing that he took the nomination process seriously, Obama called Garland “the right man for the job,” adding that he was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in 1997 with bipartisan support, including from several current Republicans senators.
Garland, who is considered a moderate, has also garnered backing from members on both sides of the aisle during previous Supreme Court nomination discussions, the president said.
He urged U.S. Senate lawmakers, who have said they would not consider the president’s pick to fill Scalia’s seat, to not play politics with judges.
Obama raised concerns about the precedent such a move would set, arguing that the Senate’s failure to even hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination would indicate the appointment process is beyond repair.
“Our Supreme Court really is unique, it’s supposed to be above politics — it has to be — and it should stay that way,” he said. “To suggest that someone as qualified and respected as Merrick Garland doesn’t even deserve a hearing, let alone an up or down vote to join an institution as important as our Supreme Court — when two-thirds of Americans believe otherwise — that would be unprecedented.
“To suggest that someone who has served his country with honor and dignity, with a distinguished track-record of delivering justice for the American people, might be treated as, one Republican leader stated, as a ‘political pinata,’ that can’t be right.”
The president called on Senate lawmakers to give Garland a hearing and an up or down vote, adding that the nominee will travel to Capitol Hill Thursday to personally meet one-on-one with lawmakers.
Stressing that he has fulfilled his constitutional duty, Obama said it’s now the Senate’s turn to follow through on its.
“I ask that they confirm Merrick Garland now to the Supreme Court so that he can take his seat in time to fully participate in its work for the American people this fall,” he said. “He is the right man for the job, he deserves to be confirmed. I could not be prouder of the work that he has already done on behalf of the American people.”
Garland, who has served a federal appeals court judge for 19 years, including three as the chief judge, called the president’s nomination “the greatest honor of (his) life” and said if confirmed by the Senate he would continue his fidelity to the constitution and the law.
Prior to serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to which he was confirmed by a 76-23 vote, Garland worked as the deputy assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice and then as principal associate deputy attorney general, according to a White House release. During his time at the DOJ he worked on the Oklahoma City bombing case, including coordinating every aspect of the government’s response.
Garland also worked a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. after becoming a partner at a prominent law firm.