Here's Why Obama's Merrick Garland Pick Shouldn't Have Come As A Surprise
President Barack Obama announced today that the Chief Justice on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Merrick Garland, would be his choice to replace former Senior Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the bench of the Supreme Court. Garland marks a trend in Obama's SCOTUS nominations; During his 7-year tenure, the president has favored nominating earnest, consensus-building strivers with a deep-seated drive for public service that began in childhood.
Garland grew up in the near north suburban Chicago of Lincolnwood and attended Niles West High School in Skokie. According the Chicago Tribune, former Niles West teacher and current mayor of the tiny suburban hamlet Gerald Turry said Garland was "a wonderful scholar. His testing was off the charts. He was president of the student council, was on the debate team, and he wasn't a star athlete but was a credible performer." A scholarship enabled him to attend Harvard as an undergrad, and he worked as a shoe sales clerk and a tutor to put himself through Harvard Law. Justices Sotomayor and Kagan were also scholarship students in turns throughout their education.
Obama's nominees to the highest court in the land also share an attribute in common with the president: They have all held editorial positions at the graduate-level review publications at their universities.
In between jobs and classes, Garland was an editor at the Harvard Law Review, as well. It seems as if the president has a penchant for picking people who have a similar background and temperament as himself: even-keeled and able to work with a wide range of personalities and ideological orientations. James Cole, a former deputy attorney general who knows Garland well told the Los Angeles Times that Garland would likely "try to keep conversation on a high intellectual level" during the nomination proceedings, should they go forward at all.
Garland's nomination may be a tough pill to swallow for certain factions of the Democratic Party that wished to see a liberal version of the late Antonin Scalia fill his vacated position on the bench. Much to his credit, as a former law professor himself, Obama is keenly aware of the importance of an impartial, professional, and dutiful judiciary.
However, nominating an experienced, proven, keen public servant like Garland proves that Obama truly understands that the president must serve the best interests of the entire populace, and not just an arbitrarily selected few. From the absolutely glowing personal anecdotes from his fellow schoolmates, colleagues and friends depicting a kind, humble, keenly intelligent man, Garland seems to be the perfect nominee to get through the GOP blockade, if ever there was one. Here's hoping that the Republicans let the president actually do his job for a change.