Earlier today the news broke that President Obama is planning to announce Merrick Garland as his choice to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. He is expected lay out his case today at an 11am press conference at the White House.
As Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress reported, Obama’s choice follows glowing comments in support of Garland by the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the longest serving Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered his own thoughts on who President Obama should nominate to fill the seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last week. “[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” Hatch told the conservative news site Newsmax, before adding that “he probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants.”
Millhiser makes it clear that Garland is doubtlessly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and has a record that would suggest he would be a relatively moderate influence on the court, except, perhaps when it comes to his more conservative perspective on criminal justice.
The best backgrounder out there right now is Tom Goldstein’s piece, “The Potential Nomination of Merrick Garland,” over at ScotusBlog. For those on the left who were hoping that Obama would nominate someone who would be a champion of liberal values, will not be that person. Instead, Obama’s choice seems designed to put the greatest amount of pressure upon the Senate Judiciary Committee to give any nomination a hearing. In particular, Obama seems to want to box Senator Orrin Hatch into a corner after he praised Merrick Garland in the press while joining Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that Republicans will refuse to hear any nominee. So, while Garland’s nomination seems to fit within an Obama pattern of dealing with obstructionist Republicans, it’s already leaving many progressives organizations and activists with the familiar feeling that Obama really is not their champion for hope and change.