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Prior to making his announcement, President Obama said his nominee would have to possess an independent mind and display unimpeachable credentials and an unquestionable mastery of law.
He also listed a “rigorous intellect” to help provide “clear answers”
Also on his list of specifications the President included as his second qualification that the nominee understand that his job is to interpret the law, not to make it or to promulgate ideologies.
Thirdly, he said his nominee should possess a “keen understanding” that justice is not about an abstract legal theory but understands the way it affects people’s daily lives “in a big complicated democracy and in rapidly changing times.”
Merrick Garland is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, and his resume is impeccable. He is currently the Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He assumed that post Feb. 12, 2013. Garland was nominated to the D.C. circuit seat by President Bill Clinton in 1995, but it took until March 9, 1997, to win his confirmation against Republican opposition. He was confirmed on a 76-23 vote.
Prior to his assuming the federal bench, Merrick’s most notable case as Principal Deputy for U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick was his work on the Oklahoma City Bombing case. He is responsible for the legal groundwork on the case against Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and recommended the death penalty. He was not lead prosecutor when the case came to court because he was called back to Washington.
Garland spent a short time in private practice working for the international law firm of Arnold and Porter. He, however, returned to public practice as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in 1989. He joined the Clinton Administration in 1993 as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He went on the D.C. federal bench in 1997.
Garland also has been clerk and special assistant to several well known figures including U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti from ’79 to ’81.
Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s response to Garland’s nomination was to block it. Although he spoke to Garland on the phone, he said there will be no meeting, no hearing and no vote. His stance is that the next President should make the nomination. McConnell will choke on his block if the next president is Hillary Clinton. President Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the Federal D.C. bench. You know full well that if Bernie Sanders is the next President, his nomination surely will not be to McConnell’s liking. And if Donald Trump is the next President, Mitch baby, I don’t think he’ll listen to you.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today said he would be willing to meet with Judge Garland after the upcoming two-week Senate recess, but would continue to block committee consideration of the nomination. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Senate Minority Leader, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, will each meet with Judge Garland Thursday afternoon.
The Hill Wednesday reported that seven Republican senators have said they would meet with Garland and/or consider his nomination.
To view a full transcript of President Obama’s remarks this morning, along with Judge Garland’s responding remarks this morning, click HERE.
To view a White House YouTube video of Judge Garland’s response to the nomination, click HERE.