COLUMBUS – Calling him “one of America’s sharpest legal minds,” President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The move came in spite of Senate Republicans, who are vowing to not hold hearings on any nominee until the next president is elected.
Garland is chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and considered to be somewhat of a moderate.
Former trial judge and Ohio University professor Tom Hodson served a judicial fellowship at the U.S. Supreme Court in the administrative office of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He says there was some strategy in the selection of Garland.
“By picking someone that’s not considered a liberal judge, who has some ties to the Republicans, I think the president has perhaps made it a little more difficult for the Republicans to just reject him out of hand,” he points out.
In reaction to the announcement, Senate Republican leaders held firm on their position, which Hodson expects will draw continued criticism from within the judicial and legal communities, as well as from supporters of the president.
Hodson notes that Garland is well versed in criminal law, as he handled the prosecution in both the Timothy McVeigh case from the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Unabomber case.
But Hodson anticipates there will be other nominees whenever the Senate decides to move forward.
“There will be this one, and then probably perhaps at least two and perhaps three others,” he states. “So if somebody’s deciding who to vote for for president, one of the considerations would be who that person would nominate to the court.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday did not change his stance on the matter, but did not rule out Garland as an eventual nominee.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley, along with five other Republican senators, indicated they would consider meeting with Garland.