Ahead of the announcement, the White House launched a SCOTUS Nomination Twitter account.
Garland is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He is not a conservative, but he's not a progressive, either. He's definitely squarely in the "consensus candidate" territory, and a direct challenge to Republicans to try to justify blocking a nominee whom many members of their party have praised.
At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser answers: "Who Is Merrick Garland?"
Garland is unquestionably qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. A 19 year veteran of the DC Circuit — a court that is widely viewed as the second-most powerful in the nation — Garland graduated with high honors from Harvard Law School. He clerked for Justice William Brennan, and spent a few years as a partner in the multinational law firm Arnold and Porter. He also held senior positions in the Justice Department, including a leadership role in the department's criminal division and a stint as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.There's much more at the link.
At age 63, Garland is also the oldest person nominated to the Supreme Court since President Nixon named Justice Lewis Powell in 1971. Thus, if confirmed, Garland is unlikely to match — or even approach — Justice Scalia's nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court.
Garland's relatively advanced age may help explain why Hatch floated the DC Circuit chief judge as his ideal Obama nominee. Another factor that almost certainly played a role is Garland's reputation for moderation...
To be clear, Garland's record does not suggest that he would join the Court's right flank if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He would likely vote much more often than not with the Supreme Court's liberals, while occasionally casting a heterodox vote. Nevertheless, as [SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein] wrote in 2010 when Garland was under consideration to replace the retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, "to the extent that the President's goal is to select a nominee who will articulate a broad progressive vision for the law, Judge Garland would be a very unlikely candidate to take up that role."
The Garland nomination, in other words, appears to be an attempt to box in Senate Republicans who've refused to confirm anyone Obama nominates.
As I've said previously, I really believe President Obama should have swung for the fences with this one. The Republicans are going to obstruct no matter what, and they've thoroughly undermined the credibility of any ideological objections by promising to block anyone the President nominates. He shouldn't give them reason to back down (and the opportunity to look reasonable) with a tepid nomination.
This was the perfect time to nominate a game-changer. It feels like a real missed opportunity.
Well, let's hope Garland surprises us, provided Obama's ploy works and Garland actually gets seated on the bench.