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Obama picks Merrick Garland for Supreme Court

Obama picks Merrick Garland for Supreme Court

President Barack Obama picked Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

"Of the many powers and responsibilities that the Constitution invests in the presidency, few are more consequential than appointing a Supreme Court justice," Obama said in a news conference. "The men and women who sit on the Supreme Court are the final arbiters of American law."

"This is not a responsibility I take lightly."

Obama was looking for someone who could persuade the Republicans to drop their vows to block any nomination by the lame duck president. Garland could fit that bill with moderate record, background as a prosecutor and a history of drawing Republican support.

Multiple news reports, including NBC News, said Obama has decided to pick Garland, a 63-year-old judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

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

Sri Srinivasan, who also serves on the appellate court, was a finalist, a source familiar with the selection process told Reuters.

In recent decades, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has been a springboard to the Supreme Court for several justices, including Scalia.

Srinivasan and Garland are seen as having unique attributes that could weigh heavily in Obama's decision, and both are viewed as moderates.

Garland, who has earned praise from lawmakers of both parties, is the chief judge of the Washington appeals court, where he has served since being appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997, winning confirmation in a 76-23 vote. Prior to that, he served in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Garland was under consideration in 2009 for Obama's first appointment but the president chose Sonia Sotomayor.

Srinivasan, 49, was born in India and grew up in Kansas, the son of a mathematics professor. Obama appointed him to the appeals court in 2013. The Senate confirmed him in a 97-0 vote.

Srinivasan has served in the Justice Department under Democratic and Republican presidents and worked as a clerk to the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor, an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan.

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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."

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.

GOP presidential front-runner Donald 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.

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.

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Obama picks Merrick Garland for Supreme Court
Bernie Hall

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