US President Barack Obama [official website] on Wednesday nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland [WH materials] of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia [JURIST report] on the US Supreme Court [official website]. Speaking on the White House lawn, Obama said [transcript] that Merrick 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.
Obama urged members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to take action and begin holding confirmation hearings when they return from a two-week recess: “I simply ask Repbulicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote.”
Garland was appointed to the DC Circuit in 1997 by Bill Clinton and became Chief Judge in February 2013. Republican senators have pledged to block any nomination by Obama, arguing that since it is an election year, the American people should have a say [SCOTUSblog op-ed] in the process by voting in the upcoming presidential election.