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merrick garland nomination
May 16, 2016

President Obama chose to nominate Merrick Garland to fill the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's seat because of his "unimpeachable credentials," he told BuzzFeed News in a live interview Monday.

"He has by all accounts conducted himself fairly, judiciously," Obama told legal editor Chris Geidner. "He works well with people, very well. He's wicked smart. Even Republicans compliment him and say he's a great judge."

Obama noted that 15 Republican senators have already met with Garland, and had faith that more would continue to do so.

"[Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] just in knee-jerk fashion said, 'We're not going to vote on it' despite there being no precedent for it," the president said. "Now what we have is a situation where, having made that promise, Republicans are looking at a Republican nominee who many of them say isn't qualified to be president, much less appoint somebody."

But Obama was careful to clarify that having Donald Trump's presumptive Republican presidential nomination potentially move the ball forward on confirming Garland isn't a situation he had hoped for.

"I think that our country is better off when the Democratic nominee for the presidency and the Republican nominee are both qualified to be president and can be effective," he said.

Watch the full interview below. Julie Kliegman

March 18, 2016

As a senator, Bernie Sanders is ready to help put President Obama's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. As a presidential candidate, however, he thinks he could do better than Merrick Garland.

"I'm 100 percent prepared to support Judge Garland," Sanders said in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday. "I think he's clearly very knowledgeable and can serve ably on the Supreme Court, but between you and me, I think there are some more progressive judges out there."

Sanders didn't hesitate to say that were he elected in November and the SCOTUS seat remained unfilled, he would ask Obama to withdraw Garland's nomination. The candidate explained that his personal litmus test for a SCOTUS nominee is "that justice must be loud and clear in telling us that he or she will vote to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision," which is a test Merrick may well fail, as evidenced by his decision in a 2010 Court of Appeals ruling which specifically built on the Citizens United case. Bonnie Kristian

March 16, 2016

President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland reportedly started calling senators almost as soon as his nomination was announced. Garland faces an uphill battle to being confirmed, with many Republican senators saying he will not have their support due to the fact he was picked by Obama near the end of his term.

Aides who spoke with The New York Times report Garland has reached out to Democrats and Republicans alike, and is holding some meetings on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Whether any of those first meetings will include Republicans may be an important indication of whether the selection of Judge Garland as the nominee has done anything to alter the Republicans' calculus and whether they will succeed in blocking his nomination. [The New York Times]

The centrist federal appeals court judge was Obama's first choice for a nominee, according to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. "The president has put forward the individual he believes is the best person to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. The president stands strongly behind the nominee." Jeva Lange

March 16, 2016

Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 has received a Senate hearing or vote — a little piece of trivia that the White House would very much like to point out.

While announcing Merrick Garland as his nominee for the vacancy left after Justice Antonin Scalia's passing, President Obama made a point of stressing that he expects the Senate to give his nominee a chance. However, many Senate Republicans believe in denying Obama's pick a hearing on principle.

To further promote Obama's nominee, the White House has launched a Twitter account "SCOTUS Nomination," which is tweeting trivia both about the nominee himself as well as the process of picking a Supreme Court justice.

The social media bombardment is unlikely to change any minds: Senate Republicans probably aren't too likely to follow the account. Jeva Lange

March 16, 2016

President Obama nominated the moderate Judge Merrick B. Garland on Wednesday to fill the spot left vacant in the Supreme Court by Justice Antonin Scalia. But the road to confirmation is an uphill battle: Senate Republicans have sworn to reject any nominee picked by Obama — even though seven sitting GOP senators voted to confirm Garland for another post in the past.

"To my knowledge, no one, absolutely no one, disputes the following: Merrick B. Garland is highly qualified to sit on the D.C. Circuit. His intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned," current Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah had said on the Senate floor.

In 2010, Hatch also described Garland as a "consensus nominee" who would "get a lot of votes."

However, there is more at stake than just a good nominee. Sen. Pat Roberts told CNN's Manu Raju that while he supported Garland in 1997, now "it's not about the person."

Obama has still appealed to the Senate to fulfill its duty. "I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give Merrick Garland a fair hearing," the president said Wednesday. Jeva Lange

March 16, 2016

President Obama has had his work cut out for him in choosing a Supreme Court nominee that might satisfy Senate Republicans, who have vowed to deny any pick sent from the current president. However, that might be awkward for seven sitting GOP senators who voted to confirm Garland in 1997. Dan Coats (Ind.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James M. Inhofe (Okla.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Pat Roberts (Kan.) have all thrown their weight behind Garland before.

Yet just because they once voted for Garland doesn't mean they will again:

Five still-serving Republicans also voted against Garland, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has helped lead the effort to block any Obama nominee.

"This is an easy one. Both our leader and judiciary chairman voted against him when he was confirmed before and it's a clear recognition by the White House that we mean what we say: There will be no confirmation," a senior GOP aide told Politico. "If they thought we were going to cave, they would have put up a much different candidate." Jeva Lange

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