President Obama Takes Action to Fill the Supreme Court

President Obama announced today his next nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States, current D.C. court of appeals Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland.

Garland, a graduate of Harvard law school, was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the D.C. court of appeals in 1997, approved by a 76-23 vote margin. Since 2013, he has served as the chief judge on that court, which most consider the most important appellate court in the nation.

Born and raised in Illinois, Garland said that being nominated by the President, “a fellow chicagoan, is an honor.”

After graduating law school, Garland clerked for Second Circuit Judge Henry Friendly, and later worked for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. After a short stint in private law doing pro bono work, Garland accepted a job as a federal prosecutor under President George H.W. Bush. He then joined the Department of Justice, working under the Attorney General.

During this time, Garland oversaw some of the most significant prosecutions in the 1990’s, including his arduous work on the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. Garland moved to Oklahoma in the days following the attack, and led the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

When Garland was appointed to the D.C. circuit court, his nomination was met with overwhelming bipartisan support from senators and lawmakers. He is known for being a “meticulous judge with a knack for building consensus, playing it straight, and deciding every case based on what the law requires,” according to a press release.

Garland has said “the role of the court is to apply the law to the facts of the case before it- not to legislate, no to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinions on the issues of the day.”

Garland became choked up during the nomination announcement today in the rose garden, comparing the honor of being nominated only to that of when his wife, Lynn, agreed to marry him. Garland and his wife of nearly 30 years have two daughters together, Becky and Jessie.

The nomination comes amid Republican claims that the next justice to the Supreme Court should be nominated by the president elect chosen later this year. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his vow not to consider a nominee chosen by President Obama. “It’s about a principle and not a person… it seems President Obama made this nomination not with the intent with seeing a nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for the purposes of the election.”

President Obama addressed the partisan issue during his nomination speech this morning, saying “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.”

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