Have Obama & Merrick Garland Met? The Possible SCOTUS Justice Pick Has Been Considered By SCOTUS Before
The road to appointing a new Supreme Court Justice to replace the deceased Antonin Scalia is becoming shorter as Obama finishes interviewing notable candidates for the job. According to a source involved in the process, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Merrick Garland is one of Obama's most likely picks. As early as March 8, NPR reported that Obama had met with Garland, Judge Sri Srinivasan, Judge Paul Watford of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals based in San Francisco, Judge Jane Kelly of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, and U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington, D.C. These six candidates allegedly made up the president's initial "short list" of possible contenders.
Now, the list has reportedly shrunk to just three options, with Garland being one of the most viable. Republicans are steadfastly insisting that they will not acknowledge Obama's choice, and ask instead that the next president make the decision. The Republican Party is adamant about preserving certain constitutional amendments, but is more than willing to violate the document in order to delay the appointment of a potentially progressive judge. Obama is pushing forward through the arduous process nevertheless, eager to fill Scalia's chair with a somewhat moderate candidate. According to The New York Times, the president already ordered the FBI to conduct background checks on his top three candidates during the last week of February.
Vox hypothesized that Obama wouldn't be considering Garland — a fairly moderate judge — if he wasn't obliged to appease the Republican majority. Carrie Severino, a conservative judicial appointments activist, said that Garland has received widespread support from the Republican party:
Of those the president could nominate, we could do a lot worse than Merrick Garland. He's the best scenario we could hope for to bring the tension and the politics in the city down a notch for the summer.
In fact, this year marks the second time Garland has been considered as a Supreme Court Justice appointee. President Obama interviewed Garland back in 2010, when former Justice John Paul Stevens announced he would soon retire. Ultimately, the president chose Elena Kagan to fill the position. If Obama appoints Garland this time around, the court will likely become more ideologically balanced. Currently, three of the Court's members (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) are more left-leaning. Stephen Breyer is fairly moderate, and the rest make rather conservative decisions. Garland would likely fall somewhere in Breyer's arena between left and right field.
On Wednesday, Garland will find out whether his multiple meetings and interviews with Obama have paid off or not. The president is expected to announce his decision as early as Wednesday afternoon, sources told CNN. In an earlier interview with the news outlet, Obama revealed that he's considering "consensus candidates" whom both parties will have little reason to not support.