Senate Republicans do not plan to vet or have hearings on the nominee, and say the next President should be able to choose Scalia's replacement. Obama and Democrats argue that with 10 months left in his term, there is plenty of time for the Senate to take up and confirm a new justice.
At 63, Garland is much older than the other contenders on the short list such as Judges Sri Srinivasan and Paul Watford. Garland's supporters argue he is the nominee that the senators couldn't refuse even in a contentious environment. "He's the establishment of the establishment," one backer said.
Garland was nominated to the D.C. appellate court in 1997 by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 76-23.
Recent polls show Americans want the U.S. Senate to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama's nominee.
Garland is somewhat of a surprise given his age (63) and his centrist history as a judge, But perhaps that's exactly the point in Obama making his choice.
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.”
UPDATE: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today following the President’s announcement of his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court:
"The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the Court’s direction…The American people may well elect a President who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next President may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy."
It may be news to Sen. McConnell, but the American people did have a say in the direction of the Supreme Court. It was called the 2012 presidential election when President Obama was reelected to a second FOUR year term with 332 electoral votes and more than five million more popular votes than his opponent. The people spoke loud and clear.