(JNS.org) President Barack Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, a Jewish judge who currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to fill a vacancy left by the recent death of Judge Antonin Scalia.
At a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, Obama said that Judge Garland is “widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence. These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle.”
Garland, 63, was born in Chicago to a Jewish mother and Protestant father but was raised Jewish. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1977 he served in private practice. From 1989 to 1992 he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and then later worked in the U.S. Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994. Garland eventually gained national recognition for his role as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General during the prosecutions of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. In 1995 President Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the D.C. Circuit where he was eventually approved after being re-nominated in 1997. He eventually became chief judge in 2013.
Despite his centrist positions and previous bipartisan support, Garland will face a difficult confirmation battle. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has repeatedly said he would oppose any nomination to the Supreme Court until after the election.
“I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote,” 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.”
If confirmed, Garland would become the fourth Jewish justice on the Supreme Court, along with Elana Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.