President Barack Obama is nominating Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court, setting the stage for a fierce confirmation fight with the U.S. Senate. Garland, 63, is the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In remarks delivered from the White House Rose Garden Wednesday, Obama praised Garland as a "serious man and an exemplary judge." "To find someone...who just about everyone not only respects, but genuinely likes, that is rare" he said. Garland, a moderate who has garnered bipartisan support in the past, was widely reported to be on Obama's short list for the nomination. Prior to serving on the bench, he was a prosecutor who worked on the high-profile Oklahoma City bombing and "Unabomber" cases. “This is the greatest honor of my life, other than Lynn agreeing to marry me 20 years ago," Garland said. "It’s also the greatest gift I’ve ever received, except, and there’s another caveat, the birth of our daughters." The president is seeking to fill a vacancy created by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month at age 79. Republicans, who hold a majority, have repeatedly said that they'll refuse to hold hearings or votes on the president's pick. They argue that the new associate justice should be chosen by the winner of this year's presidential election. And the Republican National Committee and other outside groups have pledged to pour major resources into the campaign against the nominee. Refusing the consider the nomination until a new commander in chief takes office would be unprecedented in modern history — as The New York Times notes, the Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a Supreme Court nominee. In his remarks on Wednesday, Obama said such a move could have a long-lasting impact on the nominating process and the reputation of the Supreme Court. Refusing to consider the nominee, he said, "would be unprecedented." “I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing and then an up or down vote,” Obama said. “If you don’t, it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair. It will mean everything is subject to the most partisan politics, everything. It will provoke an endless cycle of more tit-for-tat and make it increasingly impossible for any president, Democrat or Republican, to carry out their constitutional function.” Garland is expected to begin meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as soon as tomorrow. In the meantime, the eight remaining justices continue to hear oral arguments on a number of cases. The vacancy could impact the outcome of several consequential cases on the court's docket, including the high-profile challenge to Texas' new abortion regulations.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.