President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his choice to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court Wednesday.
Here is what you need to know about him.
Garland is 63 years old, making him the oldest Supreme Court Justice nominee since 1971, when President Richard Nixon chose Lewis Powell, who was ultimately confirmed.
He is also Jewish, which — should he be confirmed — would make him the fourth Jewish Justice on the court alongside Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
He has widely been considered a moderate judge.
In Khaled A. F. Al Odah v. United States, Garland held the opinion that any court does not have the power “to assert habeas corpus jurisdiction at the behest of an alien held at a military base leased from another nation, a military base outside the sovereignty of the United States.”
His decision dealt a serious blow to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility until it was overturned in the Supreme Court a year later in 2004.
But Garland is far from the constitutional textualist that was Antonin Scalia. He was uneasy about the ruling in the D.C. Circuit's District of Columbia v. Heller and requested an en banc review.
The USA Today writes there are unknowns about Garland's abortion stance:
“During 19 years at the D.C. Circuit, Garland has managed to keep a low profile. The court's largely administrative docket has left him without known positions on issues such as abortion or the death penalty.”
Senate confirmation isn't likely.
Despite Garland's praise from President Obama in the White House Rose Garden Wednesday morning, confirmation and even hearings will be highly unlikely.
President pro tempore of the Senate Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will not support any hearings for a nominee under the current administration and said that “under the current circumstances,” he would not even meet with Garland. Hatch added:
“It's a question of the toxicity of this climate. I'm sick and tired of having Supreme Court nominations processes in this politicized atmosphere. It demeans the court, demeans the whole judicial system. And frankly, you can see how politicized it is right now.”
...even though he is a “fine man.”
However, it is not a personal matter for Hatch, who said during an interview with Newsmax on Sunday that President Obama “could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.”
Operating under the mantra of “no hearings no votes,” other Republican senators are following suit in the desire to wait for the next President's nominee, whoever that newly elected president may be.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told Independent Journal Review he had “no thoughts” on Garland but that “they're all no.”
Grassley has opposed.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, issued a statement of opposition to the nomination:
“A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination during a presidential election year, with millions of votes having been cast in highly charged contests.”
While President Obama, alongside Vice President Biden and Judge Garland in the Rose Garden, conveyed optimism and a desire to see a new Justice confirmed, the effort is so far a futile one.
Senator Grassley put the stakes of the Supreme Court nomination into perspective by insisting that a “lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics.”
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication.