Updated on March 16 at 11:54 a.m.
Let the confirmation battle begin.
President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, setting up a historic election-year showdown over the high court and its future.
“I've selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America’s brightest legal minds, but also a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, evenhandedness, and excellence,” Obama said when announcing Garland’s nomination. “He is uniquely prepared to serve immediately.”
Garland is the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is widely considered to be a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Senate confirmed the 63-year-old jurist to that bench by a 76-23 vote in 1997. The White House said Garland “has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history” and praised his “rare ability to bring people together.”
Garland’s nomination bucks some recent trends for presidential nominations to the Court. Both Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, opted for younger picks who became reliable liberal or conservative voices on the Court. Garland, by contrast, is older than most of the recent Supreme Court justices at the time of their nomination. Many observers also saw him as a relatively moderate option compared to others on Obama’s reported shortlist.