Urging Republicans in the Senate to swiftly hold hearings and a vote, President Obama nominated federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing Americans want the GOP to “play it straight.’
“Our Supreme Court is really unique, it is supposed to be above politics,” Obama said as he introduced Garland in the Rose Garden of the White House.
“I am grateful beyond words,” the 63 year old Garland said, as he thanked President Obama for the nomination.
Garland is no stranger to nomination fights, as when he was first tapped for the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1995, Republicans blocked his nomination.
But after Clinton won re-election in 1996, Republicans relented, as Garland was approved soon after, with the votes of seven GOP Senators who are still serving.
There were also five Republicans who are still in the Senate, who voted against Garland – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Garland will start meeting with Senators on Thursday.
Senate Republicans though gave no hint of backing off their pledge to wait until after the November election for President.
“As I have said previously, I believe it is better for the country to allow the American people to have a voice in this debate,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
“I remain firm in my decision to exercise my Constitutional authority and withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by President Obama,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).
Democrats were not deterred.
“The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court and I take that responsibility very seriously,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).