Washington (CNN) President Barack Obama, a few minutes ago, nominated Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme , setting up a dramatic political fight with Senate Republicans who have vowed to block any replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Merrick Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, has been considered in the past for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Garland, 63, the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has been on short lists before. An appointee of President Bill Clinton, Garland is a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School. As a Justice Department lawyer, he supervised investigations in the Unabomber case as well as the Oklahoma City bombing.
Senate Republicans do not plan to vet or have hearings on Garland, and say the next President should be able to choose Scalia’s replacement. Obama and Democrats argue that with 10 months left in his term, there is plenty of time for the Senate to take up and confirm a new justice.
In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Obama praised Garland as “one of America sharpest legal minds.”
Obama’s announcement amplifies the ongoing political battle over the precedent and propriety of considering a Supreme Court nomination amid a heated presidential election.
The announcement comes after a big night in the 2016 election, with both party’s front-runners — Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump — emerging with sweeping victories as they march toward their respective nominations. Some believed Obama would time his pick so it wouldn’t get lost in a news cycle dominated by election results. But the timing seems suited to directly insert the selection into the political conversation.
Fueling the argument is the potential for the first shift in the court’s ideological leaning in two decades. If confirmed, Obama’s nominee will likely offer a vastly different legal outlook that Scalia, who was considered one of the court’s most conservative members.
At 63, Garland is much older than the other contenders on the short list such as Judges Sri Srinivasan, Paul Watford and Jane Kelly. Garland’s supporters argue he is the nominee that the senators couldn’t refuse even in a contentious environment.