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Judge Garland Has Ability To 'Assemble Unlikely Coalitions,' Obama Says


President Obama has just announced his choice for the Supreme Court. It is U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland. He is known as a highly regarded, moderate judge. At 63, older than many nominees of the past. Here's one thing that the president highlighted in introducing Garland.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He's shown a rare ability to bring together odd couples, assemble unlikely coalitions, persuade colleagues with wide ranging judicial philosophies to sign onto his opinions.

MONTAGNE: And that ability to possibly attract bipartisan support would be key to the up-and-coming nomination process. For more on his politics and the politics surrounding this nomination, we turn to NPR senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. Good morning.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, the president said just moments ago in speaking about the Republican side of the Senate - and we have a clip here for that.


MERRICK GARLAND: As my parents taught me by both words and deeds, a life of public service is as much a gift to the person who serves as it is to those he is serving. And for me, there could be no higher public service than serving as a member of the United States Supreme Court.

MONTAGNE: That was Merrick Garland standing beside President Obama. And what do you think, Ron? What is it about this particular nominee that might work to get him through the nomination process?

ELVING: Or at least to commence the nomination process because right now the Senate Republicans, the leadership, the leadership of the Judiciary Committee and the great majority of the Republican senators, who are the majority, have said there is not going to be a process, that they do not wish to hold hearings for anyone nominated by President Obama and that they do not intend even to meet with said nominee.

Now, here's why that's going to be difficult because Merrick Garland, who has been under consideration for the Supreme Court before and who has been the top judge on the number two court in all of the federal system, the D.C. circuit court of appeals, has been through the process before and held up as an absolute exemplar of the kind of person who ought to be in these kinds of positions at the top of the federal appeals process and even on the Supreme Court, and held up as an example of that by such persons as Orrin Hatch, the Utah conservative Republican senator who used to be the Judiciary Committee chairman and whom the president cited today in his introduction of Judge Garland.

MONTAGNE: Well, we just have a few more seconds to talk about this, but where does it go from here?

ELVING: The president is going to send Judge Garland up to the Hill. He's going to walk around the halls with a group of people. He is going to be introduced around by other senators. He's going to meet, I suspect, with every Democratic senator.

And the Republican senators are going to have to decide whether or not to let him through the door of their offices and entertain him for an interview in their chambers. That will be a difficult decision for some of these Republican senators, particularly the ones who are up for re-election in November.

MONTAGNE: Ron, thanks very much.

ELVING: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR senior Washington editor, Ron Elving. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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