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.

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Obama appoints new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland
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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."

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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)

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)

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

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

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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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Supreme Court landmark cases
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Senator: Obama to nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court
Demonstrators carrying giant keep abortion legal buttons & ...protect Roe vs. Wade sign during huge pro-choice march. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
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)
1963: Petitiion by Clarence Earl Gideon to the Chief Justice of the United States against a sentence imposed by a Florida court because he had not had legal representation. This resulted in the 5th Amendment whereby any individual accused of a crime is guaranteed 'due processes of law'. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
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)
(Original Caption) This sketch shows White House Watergate Attorney James St. Claire arguing before the Supreme Court over whether President Nixon could assert executive privilege in withholding evidence demanded by Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworksi in the Watergate cover-up trial. The Justices are (L to R), Chief Justice Warren Burger; William Brennan; Byron White; Henry Blackmun; and at right is the chair normally occupied by William Rehnquist, who withdrew from this case.
Supporters of gay marriage wave the rainbow flag after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry at the Supreme Court in Washington June 26, 2015. The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
(Original Caption) Schenectady, New York: Despite a ruling from Education Commissioner Ewald B. Nyquist that prayer meetings in school are 'constitutionally impermissible,' several Mohonasen High School pupils continue to hold 10 minute prayer session at the school. The school board gave permission for the meetings even though the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled out prayer in public schools. Comm. Nyquist's ruling upset the school board's permission for the meetings, but the students, who pointed out that Congress and the state legislature open with prayers, decided to keep up the practice.
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