After much conjecture and debate, President Barack Obama has finally announced his pick for the next Supreme Court justice. And the selection is... not who anybody suspected, to be honest.
Merrick Garland has been chosen by President Obama to replace the late Antonin Scalia as part of the highest court in the land. But who is he really? Here's what you need to know about Merrick Garland, and what his nomination means for the political climate.
He's Got The Experience
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 16, 2016
Merrick Garland has spent 19 years honing his skills and instincts working the DC Circuit, and he has the record to back up this prestigious nomination. He also shares ties with many of the judges already on the Supreme Court, having attended Harvard Law School. Indeed, his resume reads surprisingly like those judges currently occupying the Supreme Court (and even the late Antonin Scalia, who he's been tapped to replace)—and that's not an accident.
Here's the scenario whereby Republicans decide confirming Garland is their best move: https://t.co/swsbAHgGOq — Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) March 16, 2016
Now in these highly contentious times it's hard to imagine anyone President Obama picking for the Supreme Court being welcomed with open arms by his Republican colleagues. But if anyone can do it, the moderate and likable Merrick Garland can. In 1997, he received unprecedented bipartisan support when he was nominated to the appeals court, with many Republicans enthusiastically backing him. President Obama is clearly hoping history will repeat itself, and that Garland's reputation as an ethical and moderate judge will land him a position on the Supreme Court with minimal issues.
He's Old (Well, In A Sense)
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 16, 2016
If Garland gets the nomination, he will have the auspicious privilege of being the oldest Justice to join the Supreme Court since 1972. At 63 years of age, Garland will be older than half of his more experienced colleagues (including President Obama's other pick, Sonia Sotomayor).
This Isn't His First Rodeo
Don't forget: Merrick Garland was POTUS' second choice for SCOTUS vacancy in 2010. And considered in 2009 — Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) March 16, 2016
In fact, the public might have become familiar with the name Merrick Garland back in 2009 when he was first considered for the Supreme Court nominations. Ultimately Sotomayor was selected and eventually confirmed. It seemed that Garland might end up the winner in 2010, following the announced retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, but the nomination ended up going to Elana Kagan. Reports are circulating that President Obama has been waiting for the right time to bring the bipartisan moderate to the forefront: it looks like 2016 is Garland's year. And considering that numerous Republicans publicly stated they would back Garland's nomination in the past, President Obama's selection could prove a very interesting situation.
He's An Unknown Factor
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland doesn't have a clear stance on abortion or the death penalty https://t.co/mriSzrlBgC
— kate shellnutt (@kateshellnutt) March 16, 2016
Garland's low profile has advantages and disadvantages; namely, people aren't sure what his stance is on a number of hot-button issues. While his previous rulings have been decidedly centrist, he's been murky on topics like abortion and the death penalty. Although he could previously get by without making any sort of statement, the SCOTUS nomination is going to demand he take a stand—and fast. Additionally, his previous support of gun control could rub some Republicans the wrong way. It's hard to make a prediction on how the GOP will respond to his nomination, but one thing's for sure: Merrick Garland's confirmation is by no means a certainty.