President Barack Obama selected Merrick Garland Wednesday as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created after Justice Antonin Scalia's death last month. He made the announcement in the White House Rose Garden this morning.
Garland has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997 and is currently its chief judge.
"Today, I will announce the person whom I believe is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court," Obama said in a statement earlier today. "As President, it is both my constitutional duty to nominate a Justice and one of the most important decisions that I -- or any president -- will make."
"I've devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision," he added. "I've consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we've reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously."
Senate Republicans have vowed to not hold a vote or hearing on a Supreme Court nominee until after the next elected president takes office.
Reaction to Obama's Supreme Court nominee pick is pouring in from various organizations and individuals, including Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center.
"We are pleased that President Obama is exercising his constitutional responsibility to nominate a highly-qualified Justice for the United States Supreme Court. The Senate leadership is putting politics ahead of their constitutional duty to hold a fair hearing and fully consider the President's Supreme Court nominee, which is disrespectful of Americans' rights to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and live in communities without toxic threats to their children's health," he said in a statement. "The Supreme Court's recent 5-4 stay vote, blocking the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan standards, should remind everyone what's at stake."
National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia had this to say:
Now that President Obama has fulfilled his constitutional duty to nominate a Supreme Court justice, Senators must do their job.
Merrick Garland is imminently qualified, has impeccable credentials, and possesses a mastery of the law. Chief Judge Garland's service in senior positions in the Justice Department and his nearly two decades on the D.C. Circuit Court speaks volumes about his integrity and qualifications to serve on the highest court in the land.
Americans are counting on the Senate to do its job by considering the president's nominee, hold a hearing and a vote. This is a duty that both political parties always have fulfilled. Never in our nation's history has a Senate majority said they refuse to consider or vote on anyone nominated by the current president.
By refusing to consider the president's nominee, Senate Republicans are playing political games, delaying action on the Supreme Court nomination, caving to the extreme voices of its party, and putting politics ahead of its constitutional duty.
I urge the Senate to move quickly to hold a hearing and a vote to confirm Judge Garland so that the court can continue to serve the American people at full strength.
UPDATE (12:05 p.m.) After Obama announced his Supreme Court nominee, Equality Illinois called on the "U.S. Senate and our two Senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, to carry through on their constitutional responsibilities to fairly and thoroughly consider the nomination and hold a confirmation vote within a reasonable time." Equality Illinois CEO Bernard Cherkasov issued these remarks:
This Supreme Court nomination is likely to set the direction of the nation's highest court for a generation. LGBT Americans and our families and friends know how important that is, with the court's decision affirming our right to marry not even one year old."
Republicans are in the majority in the U.S. Senate, and the party's leaders have pledged to not even consider any nomination by President Obama. This is an abuse of power and contrary to the United States Constitution and American history
Senator Kirk has demonstrated his willingness to do the right thing, breaking with his party, on issues such as support for marriage equality; and he is the only Republican in the Senate to endorse the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. He has indicated a willingness to consider the nomination, and we call on him to resist all pressure and follow through on the pledge so Judge Garland receives the fair hearing he deserves.