After seeking the advice of lawmakers, constitutional scholars and advocacy groups, the president announced he would nominate Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Mr. Obama praised him as "not only one of America's sharpest legal minds," but someone who has "a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence." Here's what you need to know about the president's pick for the court:
He's currently the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and has served on the court since his confirmation in 1997. It's the second-highest court in the land and three justices on the Supreme Court also served here, including Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in addition to the late Antonin Scalia. A White House official said of Garland that he has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history.
Garland supervised the domestic terrorism investigations into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, in his capacity as principal associate deputy attorney general.
From 1985 to 1989, and then again from 1992 to 1993, Garland served as a partner in the law firm of Arnold and Porter in Washington, D.C.
Where did he go to school?
Garland graduated from Harvard College in 1974, summa cum laude, and from Harvard Law School in 1977, magna cum laude.
Will the Senate confirm him?
Senate Republicans said that they would not hold hearings and would not consider any Obama nominee for the Supreme Court. The president is making it as difficult as he can for them not to give Garland a hearing, however. Rather than selecting a more liberal nominee, the president turned to a consensus candidate who had broad bipartisan support when he was nominated in 1997 to the DC Court of Appeals.
At his nomination, Garland made it clear that he's driven by "fidelity to the Constitution and the law," and he said that if the Senate confirms him, "I promise to continue on that course."
Garland will meet senators face-to-face Thursday to make his case in person. Though seven sitting senators approved his 1997 nomination, five sitting senators opposed him, and two of those in opposition were Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Is this the first time he's been considered for the Supreme Court?
Garland has been on the short list for a Supreme Court seat in the past. In 2010, after Justice John Paul Stevens retired, Garland's name was also floated for the nomination before Mr. Obama selected Elena Kagan.
Is there anything in his record that Republicans oppose?
Calling his credentials "unassailable," CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford says, "I see nothing. It's just the timing and the process."
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He grew up in Chicago, where his mother worked as a director of volunteer services and his father ran what he called "the smallest of small businesses out of the basement."
Garland and his wife, Lynn, have two daughters, Rebecca, 25, and Jessica, 23, both Yale graduates. In his speech at the White House on Wednesday, Garland mentioned that his eldest daughter had yet to receive the news of his nomination to the Supreme Court because she was "hiking in the mountains, out of cell service range."
According to the president, Garland put himself through Harvard Law School by working as a tutor, stocking shelves in a shoe store, and at one point even "selling his comic book collection." Garland ruefully put his hand over his heart at that point, and Mr. Obama quipped Wednesday in his introduction that "It's tough--I've been there."