Senator: Obama to nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

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Obama Said to Nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday will nominate Merrick Garland, a veteran federal appeals court judge viewed as a moderate, to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer told Reuters.

The nomination of Garland, 63, who currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, would set up a potentially ferocious political showdown with Senate Republicans.

WATCH LIVE: PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES SUPREME COURT NOMINEE

The White House confirmed the selection in a statement, emphasizing his readiness for the job and history of support from Republicans and Democrats.

"No one is better suited to immediately serve on the Supreme Court," a White House official said.

"Chief Justice John Roberts, Garland's colleague on the D.C. Circuit, once said that 'anytime Judge Garland disagrees, you know you're in a difficult area,'" the official added.

Garland, 63, is a long-time appellate judge and former prosecutor who Obama also considered when he filled two previous Supreme Court vacancies. Federal appeals court judge Sri Srinivasan also had been a finalist for the nomination.

See more of Judge Garland and reaction on social media:

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Obama appoints new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland
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Senator: Obama to nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, shakes hands with with President Barack Obama as Vice President Joe Biden looks on as he is introduced as Obamaâs nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Washington. Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, center, introduce Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, as Obamaâs nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obamaâs nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, walks out with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
This photo provided by the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit shows Chief Judge Merrick Garland in 2013, in Washington. (U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit via AP)
FILE - In this May 1, 2008 file photo, Judge Merrick B. Garland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is pictured before the start of a ceremony at the federal courthouse in Washington. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court's oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, he is retiring. President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill. The leading candidates to replace Stevens are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate Judges Merrick Garland, 57, and Diane Wood, 59. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Deputy U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, left, looks on as interim U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan answers questions during a news conference Thursday May 18, 1995, following a preliminary hearing in El Reno, Okla., for Terry Nichols. A magistrate ruled that there was enough evidence to hold Nichols in prison. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
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Obama said in a statement released by the White House that he will unveil his nominee at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) in the White House Rose Garden. Schumer is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership.

Obama has been searching for a replacement for long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13.

Garland, who in the past has earned praise from lawmakers of both parties, was named to his current job by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997, winning Senate confirmation in a 76-23 vote. Prior to that, he served in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

"I'm confident you'll share my conviction that this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote," Obama said in the statement ahead of his scheduled announcement in the White House Rose Garden.

Senate Republicans have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings or a vote on any nominee picked by the Democratic president for the lifetime position on the court. Senate confirmation is required for any nominee to join the bench.

Obama said he hoped the Senate would do its job and "move quickly to consider my nominee."

See more of the rumored replacements:

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Potential replacements for Justice Scalia, SCOTUS
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Senator: Obama to nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

Sri Srinivasan, Federal appeals court judge

(United States Department of Justice)

Judge Merrick Garland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

(Photo via the United States District Court for the District of Columbia)

Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. Attorney General. 

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Paul Watford, currently a U.S. circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit.

(Photo by Bill Clark/Getty Images)

Patricia Ann Millett, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, pictured here with Obama when she was nominated to that court.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

California Attorney General Kamala Harris

(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Jacquline Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American woman named to the state court in California.

(Photo by Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval withdrew his name after the Obama administration expressed interest in late February.

(AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

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Without Scalia, the nine-member Supreme Court is evenly split with four liberals and four conservative justices. Obama's nominee could tilt the court to the left for the first time in decades.

Republicans, hoping a candidate from their party wins the Nov. 8 presidential election, want the next president, who takes office in January, to make the selection.

Billionaire Donald Trump is the leading Republican presidential candidate. Obama's former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is the front-runner on the Democratic side.

Republicans and their allies already have geared up to fight Obama's nominee. Republican National Committee on Monday announced the formation of a task force that will work with an outside conservative group to spearhead attack ads and other ways of pushing back against Obama's choice.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has served as a springboard to the Supreme Court for several justices including Scalia in recent decades.

Obama may have been looking for a nominee who could convince the Republicans to change course. Garland could fit that bill with moderate record, background as a prosecutor and a history of drawing Republican support.

Garland was under consideration by Obama when he filled two prior high court vacancies. Obama already has named two justices to the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor, who at 55 became the first Hispanic justice in 2009, and Elena Kagan, who was 50 when she became the fourth woman to ever serve on the court in 2010.

The Obama administration also regarded Garland as a future compromise choice if another vacancy opened in an election year with the Senate under Republican control, according to Obama advisers at the time and others weighing in on the current nomination. That is the situation now confronting Obama.

Presidents tend to pick nominees younger than Garland, so they can serve for decades and extend a president's legacy. But Obama may reason that the choice of an older nominee might also entice Senate Republicans into considering Obama's selection.

The Indian-born Srinivasan, 49, would have been the first Asian-American and first Hindu Supreme Court justice.

Trump, speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America" program, said it was critical for Republicans to take back the White House to avoid Democrats shaping the Supreme Court.

"You have four Supreme Court judgeships coming up, and that would mean they would take over, that would mean for 50 years, probably, this country will never be the same," Trump said.

"The Republicans should do exactly what they are doing. I think they should wait till the next president and let the next president pick," Trump said.

Click through to see the Supreme Court's landmark cases:

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Senator: Obama to nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court
An estimated 5,000 people, women and men, march around the Minnesota Capitol building protesting the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, ruling against state laws that criminalize abortion, in St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 22, 1973. The marchers formed a "ring of life" around the building. (AP Photo)
1966: Since 1966 police have to advise a suspect that they have the right to remain silent and the right to counsel during interrogation. The so called 'Miranda Warning' after Ernesto Miranda who had a retrial because he was not so advised. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Clarence Earl Gideon, 52-year-old mechanic who changed the course of legal history, is seen shortly after his release from prison on August 6, 1963 in Panama City, Florida. In 1961, Gideon was wrongly charged with burglary and sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that his constitutional right to liberty was denied when Florida refused him an attorney. In a landmark decision later known as Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, stating that anyone accused of a crime should be guaranteed the right to an attorney, whether or not he or she could afford one. (AP Photo)
Linda Brown Smith, 9, is shown in this 1952 photo. Smith was a 3rd grader when her father started a class-action suit in 1951 of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., which led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 landmark decision against school segregation. (AP Photo)
African American students at a segregated school following the supreme court case Plessy vs Ferguson established Separate But Equal, 1896. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Dollree Mapp, 12, who was involved in a Landmark U.S. Supreme court decision concerning illegal search and seizure in 1931, is escorted into 105th precinct in New York by CET. John Bergersen. She was arrested in her apartment in Queens, New York City on February 18, where police said they recovered drugs valued at $800,000. A man, Allen Lyins, 33, was also taken into custody. The landmark decision, Mapp V. Ohio, found for Mrs. Mapp on grounds that police had forcibly searched her apartment in 1961 with out search warrant. (AP Photo)
President Nixon tells a White House news conference, March 15, 1973, that he will not allow his legal counsel, John Dean, to testify on Capitol Hill in the Watergate investigation and challenged the Senate to test him in the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)
Supporters of the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling on same-sex marriage gather on the step of the Texas Capitol for a news conference celebrating marriage equality and looking to important work ahead, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Some of the parents who brought suit against public schoolroom prayer in the Herricks School District pose with some of their children at Roslyn Heights, a Long Island suburb of New York City, after the Supreme Court said the prayer was unconstitutional on June 26, 1962. The group was sparked by Lawrence Roth, right foreground. Parents are, at center, left to right, Thelma Engel, Ruth Liechtenstein and the Roths. Children are, left to right, rear: Michael Engel, 11; Dan Roth, 17; Judy Liechtenstein, 19; and Joe Roth, 14. Front: Jonathan Engel, 4, and Madeleine Engel, 7. (AP Photo)
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