Media Highlight Judge Merrick Garland's Credentials And His History Of GOP Support

In the wake of President Obama's announcement that he is nominating Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, media are highlighting Garland's record as “an experienced and respected federal judge” and pointing out his history of “bipartisan support.”

President Obama Nominates Chief Judge Merrick Garland To Supreme Court

Obama Nominates Judge Merrick Garland To The Supreme Court. The New York Times reported that President Obama announced on March 16 that he is nominating Judge Merrick Garland, the chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, to the Supreme Court. Obama said Garland is “widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence. These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle”:

President Obama on Wednesday said he would nominate Merrick B. Garland as the nation's 113th Supreme Court justice, choosing a centrist appeals court judge for the lifetime appointment and daring Republican senators to refuse consideration of a jurist who is highly regarded throughout Washington.

Mr. Obama introduced Judge Garland to an audience of his family members, activists, and White House staff in the Rose Garden Wednesday morning, describing him as exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court in the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

The president said Judge Garland is “widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence. These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle.”

He added that Judge Garland “will ultimately bring that same character to bear on the Supreme Court, an institution on which he is uniquely prepared to serve immediately.” [The New York Times, 3/16/16]

Media Call Garland “An Experienced And Respected Federal Judge”

CBS' Jan Crawford: Merrick Is “An Experienced And Respected Federal Judge” And Is “The Best Candidate That Republicans Could Hope For From A Democratic President.” On the March 16 edition of CBS This Morning, CBS chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford explained that Merrick is “an experienced and respected federal judge” and is “the best candidate that Republicans could hope from a Democratic president”:

JAN CRAWFORD: During a month-long search, the president really focused on a few highly regarded federal appeals court justices. Leading contenders are both here on the D.C.-based federal appeals court. There's Merrick Garland. He's an experienced and respected federal judge. ... If the president nominates Garland, who is, I mean, no liberal firebrand, it would signal that he's hoping for some kind of compromise. Garland is considered the best candidate that Republicans could hope for from a Democratic president. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 3/16/16]

NY Times' Nick Confessore: “It's Hard To Think Of A Good Reason To Vote Against” Garland. On the March 16 edition of MSNBC Live With José Díaz-Balart, New York Times political reporter Nick Confessore said it's “hard to think of a good reason to vote against” Garland “on his merits”:

NICK CONFESSORE: I think the Obama White House has decided to forego the long-term benefit of a nominee who could sort of rile up their base in November, for the long-term benefit of amping up and ratcheting up the pressure on Senate Republicans. This is a guy who it's hard to think of a good reason to vote against him on the merits. He's qualified. He's not an ideological warrior. He's not somebody who has any obvious bumps or nicks. He should be nominated or rather he should get a vote, would be their perspective. [MSNBC, Live With José Díaz-Balart, 3/16/16]

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin: “There Is Certainly No One In The United States More Qualified To Be On That Supreme Court Than Merrick Garland.” On the March 16 edition of CNN's At This Hour, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said “There is certainly no one in the United States more qualified to be on the Supreme Court than Merrick Garland”:

WOLF BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, the president said he's one of America's sharpest legal minds. He's got a really strong reputation out there, doesn't he?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: He really does. You know, Merrick Garland is not well-known in the United States but he's very well-known in the Washington legal community and in the broader community that follows these sorts of issues. And the one thing you can say about this nomination is that it really does take the issue of qualifications off the table. There is certainly no one in the United States more qualified to be on the Supreme Court than Merrick Garland. [CNN, At This Hour, 3/16/16]

SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein: Garland Would Be The Court's “Rock-Solid Center.” On the March 16 edition of MSNBC's The Place for Politics, SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein stated that Garland would be part of the “rock-solid center” of the Supreme Court, if he were to be confirmed:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Tom, while I have you, as a young man and a freshly minted lawyer, he clerked on the Supreme Court for not just any justice, but Justice William Brennan. Among the liberal lions of the last 100 years. A man who made no bones about the mathematics and lobbying on the Supreme Court, often would hold up his hand showing five fingers and saying around here, there's only one way to get things done. And that is a 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court. How much of that rubs off on a young lawyer? He certainly didn't grow up to be the liberal on the federal bench that Brennan was. You find his decisions in your ongoing years-long analysis to be slightly left of center.

TOM GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I don't think very much. Judge Garland, Chief Judge Garland certainly absorbed from all kinds of different mentors. He really did take to heart his experience with the very liberal William Brennan. But in the wake of that, you just don't see anything like Justice Brennan's very liberal ideology in basically anything that he's done. When you have a judge who almost never votes to overturn criminal convictions as Chief Judge Garland's history has been, when he regularly disagrees with more liberal colleagues in those cases, you know that you're not talking about someone who is going to be an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court's left. You're talking about somebody who is going to be, kind of, it's rock-solid center. [MSNBC, The Place for Politics, 3/16/16]

Media Highlight Garland's Past Support From Republicans

CNN's Athena Jones: Garland “Got Bipartisan Support Back In 1997 In The Senate.” On the March 16 edition of CNN Newsroom, reporter Athena Jones explained that when Garland was appointed in 1997, he “got bipartisan support ... in the Senate”:

ATHENA JONES: They wanted to pick a nominee that would be difficult for Republicans to argue with. As we've heard over the last several minutes, Merrick Garland was appointed by President Bill Clinton, but he got bipartisan support back in 1997 in the Senate. Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, praised Garland as highly qualified during that process. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/16/16]

CNN's Pamela Brown: Garland Is “Widely Respected Across The Aisle, Senator [Orrin] Hatch Has Come Out And Thrown His Support Behind Him In The Past.” On the March 16 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom, CNN Supreme Court reporter Pamela Brown noted that Garland is “widely respected across the aisle”:

PAMELA BROWN: This is a time when Republicans are vowing not to hold a hearing, and so it seems like the calculus for the president was to pick someone who could be palatable to the Republicans in this time. And given [Garland's] age, and given the fact that he's widely respected across the aisle -- Senator Hatch has come out and thrown his support behind him in the past. So given all of these factors, Carol, and the fact that he's somewhat of a moderate, he's someone who is pretty conservative when it comes to criminal law, a lot of different cases he's voted in favor of law enforcement and against the criminal defendant. And so he is someone who is viewed as a moderate. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/16/16]

MSNBC's Pete Williams: “Garland Is Someone Who Is Extremely Well-Respected ... By Republicans.” On the March 16 edition of MSNBC Live, MSNBC's Pete Williams pointed out that “Garland is someone who is extremely well-respected by Republicans” and “he has a lot of ... bipartisan support”:

PETE WILLIAMS: Merrick Garland is someone who is extremely well-respected here in Washington in the Senate by Republicans. When he was confirmed in 1997, 32 Republicans voted for him, out of the 76 who voted to confirm him. And the only no votes were really based on considerations of the size of the federal Court of Appeals in 1997. There was, and continues to be,something of a controversy about whether the D.C. Court of Appeals has too many judges, given its workload, and that was really the issue. Not many people opposed him because of who he was. He has prosecution experience, as you said. He served in the Justice Department in the Clinton administration, and worked veryin a high-visible role In the Oklahoma City bombing case and also the Unabomber case. So he has a lot of support, of bipartisan support, and he's also well-liked, and that helps too.


JOSÉ DÍAZ-BALART (HOST): This is someone who on paper is eminently qualified. ... He is a guy who is admired and quite frankly has good relationships with people on both sides of the aisle. [MSNBC, MSNBC Live with José Díaz-Balart, 3/16/16]

Fox's Shannon Bream: Garland “Has Had Bipartisan Support In The Past.” On the March 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Supreme Court correspondent Shannon Bream explained that Garland is “very respected by lawmakers on sides of the aisle” and that “he's had bipartisan support in the past”:

SHANNON BREAM: He is very respected by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for his intellect and relatively moderate opinions. ... He is somebody who is well-regarded and I think that's one of the reasons the president chose him is because he's had bipartisan support in the past. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/16/16]

Yet Republicans Have Pledged To Obstruct Any Nominee

Senate Republicans Have Announced Opposition To Considering Any Obama SCOTUS Nominee. Even before President Obama announced his nominee, Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced an unprecedentedly obstructionist strategy to blockade any nominee Obama puts forth, promising not to afford the nominee even a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. As reported by The New York Times:

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has said he will not even meet with Mr. Obama's eventual nominee. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have signed a letter affirming that they will not hold hearings on such a nominee.

Democrats have launched a blistering attack on Mr. Grassley, whoon Thursdaydrew an unexpected Democratic challenger in his campaign for a seventh term. Under pressure this week, Mr. Grassley said that he would be open to meeting with Judge Jane Kelly [, a federal appellate judge on President Obama's shortlist,] because she is an Iowa constituent, and that he would not rule out sitting down with another person Mr. Obama might nominate.

But Mr. Grassley has insisted that even though he warmly praised Judge Kelly in the past and urged fellow senators to support her confirmation to the federal bench, he would refuse to consider her or any other Supreme Court nominee on the principle that Mr. Obama does not have the right to advance one.

The president has said he has an obligation under the Constitution, which says he “shall” nominate Supreme Court justices, to fill the vacancy. Public opinion polls indicate that large majorities of Americans believe that the Senate should hold confirmation hearings. [The New York Times, 3/5/16]