UPDATED: 11:45 a.m. EDT — Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland said Wednesday he will continue "fidelity to the U.S. Constitution" that has been the hallmark of his professional life. Garland was emotional as he stood next to President Barack Obama and accepted the nomination to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
But Republicans who want the next president to choose the next Supreme Court justice were unmoved. The Republican National Committee wrote on Twitter: "Lame duck President Obama is doing us a disservice with attempt to tip balance of SCOTUS in the 11th hour."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate confirmation would be a bitter fight and it would be better to leave the decision to the American people in November. He quoted Vice President Joe Biden, who made similar remarks on the Senate floor in late June 1992 about Republican President George H.W. Bush.
“Senate consideration of a nominee under these circumstances is not fair to the president, to the nominee, or to the Senate itself,” Biden said at the time. “Where the nation should be treated to a consideration of constitutional philosophy, all it will get in such circumstances is partisan bickering and political posturing from both parties and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan also said Republicans should not confirm Garland based on "principle." “Under our Constitution, the president has every right to make this nomination, and the Senate has every right not to confirm a nominee,” he said in a statement.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 16, 2016
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, however, urged Republicans to confirm Garland. "I am optimistic that cooler heads will prevail, and sensible Republicans will provide Judge Garland with the fair treatment that a man of his stature and qualifications deserves. The American people expect their elected leaders to do their jobs," he said Wednesday.
UPDATED: 11:25 a.m. EDT — Senate Republicans could hurt the Supreme Court's reputation and Americans' faith in the justice system if they don't move forward and consider Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, as the nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama said Wednesday. Senate Republicans have vowed to block any Supreme Court pick so that whoever is elected president in November can name the next justice.
People respect "the way he treats others" and his "deep and abiding passion for protecting our most basic Constitutional rights," Obama said of Garland during a speech from the White House announcing his decision. "He is the right man for the job. He deserves to be confirmed," Obama added.
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) March 16, 2016
UPDATED: 11:10 a.m. EDT — President Barack Obama announced Wednesday he had settled on Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, as his nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Obama, who faces a backlash from Republicans in the U.S. who argue the next president elected in November should pick the nominee, said he did not take his decision lightly.
"The men and women who sit on the Supreme Court are the final arbiters of American law," he said. He called Garland a man of "decency, integrity and even-handedness."
Merrick Garland is an outstanding choice for SCOTUS. A protector of civil rights and individual liberties. He MUST get a vote. #Doyourjob!
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) March 16, 2016
UPDATED: 10:01 a.m. EDT — President Barack Obama has picked Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, as his nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing Congressional sources. The president was set to announce his pick at 11 a.m. EDT in the Rose Garden at the White House.
BREAKING: Congressional sources: President Obama to nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 16, 2016
President Barack Obama will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at 11 a.m. Wednesday, beginning a tough confirmation battle with Senate Republicans who have promised to not consider anyone the president suggests.
The president sent out an emailed announcement Wednesday morning, and while he did not name his nominee, Obama outlined several criteria he considered, saying he wants someone with “an independent mind, unimpeachable credentials and an unquestionable mastery of law.”
More information about Obama’s nomination process can be found on the White House website, and when the president makes his announcement, you’ll be able to watch below.
Obama is said to have narrowed his list of choices to two likely candidates, both federal appeals judges. One is Sri Srinivasan, 49, and the other is Merrick Garland, 63. Srinivasan was born in India and would be a historic pick, as he would become the first South Asian-American and the first Hindu to serve on the high court.
Srinivasan also previously received a unanimous confirmation from the Senate, which would help Obama as he gears up to fight Republican leaders’ efforts to stop him from choosing a nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP members in the Senate have said they believe the next president should nominate the new justice to give the American people a voice in the process. Democrats have expressed frustration with this attitude, but the Republican majority will make it difficult for the president to get his pick confirmed.
The Republican presidential candidates have also weighed in, and front-runner Donald Trump said Wednesday he agreed with McConnell. “I think they should wait until the next president and let the next president pick," Trump said on “Good Morning America” early Wednesday.
Obama will need at least 14 Republican senators to join with Democrats to break a probable filibuster from the GOP leadership, as well as five Republican senators to actually vote for the confirmation. His pick would replace the late Antonin Scalia, whose death last month left the Supreme Court with four conservative justices and four liberal ones. The new justice will likely have a significant impact on the ideological direction of the court for years to come.
The White House is hoping to move the process along by this summer, but many have predicted the battle could last through November. If that is the case, the Supreme Court battle will likely become a major election issue and could help turn out voters on both sides of the aisle.