Obama nominates new SC judge, Republicans won't accept

Judge Garland is known for his "decency, modesty integrity, even-handedness and excellence," Barack Obama said.

March 16, 2016 09:16 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 02:02 am IST - WASHINGTON

President Barack Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, Chief Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to the U.S Supreme Court to succeed conservative judge Antonin Scalia who passed away last month. In an impassioned plea, Mr Obama exhorted the Republican Party to not turn the confirmation process into “an extension of our divided politics.”

The nomination has to be confirmed by the Republican majority Senate, but its leaders have said they would not even consider any nomination that Mr Obama would make. The issue has also become a bitterly fought presidential campaign issue. Republican candidates argue that only the next president should make the nomination. Mr Obama said the constitution does not require the president to stop working in the last year in office.

“I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote,” Mr. Obama said. “If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.” He said the Republicans must “decide whether they want to follow the Constitution and abide by the rules of fair play.”

Judge Garland was confirmed with majority support from both parties in the U.S. Senate in 1997 — a fact that the president underscored. “Judge Garland has more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in history,” a White House release said. The new nominee led the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing case.

Soon after the president’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel said the Senate would not consider the nomination. Mr McConnel said the president did it "not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicise it for the purpose of the election." "The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different."

A centrist and moderate, Judge Garland is highly regarded by the legal fraternity and lawmakers. By nominating him, President Obama has thrown a challenge to the Republican Party, which will find it difficult to cite any reasons for opposing him. One constant refrain from the Republicans has been that a “liberal” judge that Mr Obama would nominate could undermine the U.S Constitution.

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