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Obama Nominates Illinois Native for Supreme Court Vacancy

President Barack Obama nominated Illinois native Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court at a Rose Garden ceremony Wednesday

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    President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States Wednesday in a ceremony as the White House’s Rose Garden. NBC 5's Regina Waldroup reports. (Published Thursday, March 17, 2016)

    President Barack Obama nominated Illinois native Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States Wednesday in a ceremony at the White House’s Rose Garden.

    Garland currently serves as the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and is considered a centrist.

    A statement from the White House claims Garland “has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history.”

    Garland, who was born in Chicago and raised in the city’s suburbs, graduated from Niles West High School in 1970. He later received a scholarship from Harvard University, where he graduated summa cum laude. He also attended Harvard Law School.

    Obama Nominates Illinois Native for Supreme Court Vacancy

    [CHI] Obama Nominates Illinois Native for Supreme Court Vacancy
    President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States Wednesday in a ceremony as the White House’s Rose Garden. NBC 5's Christian Farr reports. (Published Wednesday, March 16, 2016)

    He previously served as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. as part of President George H.W. Bush's presidential administration. In this role, he prosecuted cases involving public corruption, drug trafficking and fraud.

    Garland was later selected as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice, and then as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.

    He also oversaw the high-profile Oklahoma City bombing case in 1995.

    During Obama’s nomination Wednesday, he urged Republican senators to move forward with the process to confirm Garland to the Supreme Court.

    “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, then 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.”

    Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers are pushing to block President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination until a new president is elected next year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Garland Wednesday to inform him that the Senate would not move forward with the confirmation process.

    Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who last night won the Democratic nomination for Mark Kirk’s U.S. Senate seat, called out McConnell and Senate Republicans in a statement Wednesday.

    “Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans doubled down today on their vow to block Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite his impeccable credentials,” Duckworth said. “What that means is Mark Kirk is more inclined to have Donald Trump select our next Supreme Court justice, since Kirk said only last Friday he 'certainly would’ support Trump for president if he is the Republican nominee.”

    “Like most Illinoisans, I find that possibility frightening,” Duckworth added.

    Kirk also responded, claiming he will consider Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.

    “When I climbed the 42 steps of the U.S. Capitol and returned to the Senate following my stroke, I reaffirmed my commitment to represent the people of Illinois in an independent and thoughtful manner, free from the partisanship and political rancor that too often consumes Washington,” Kirk said. “The Senate’s constitutionally defined role to provide advice and consent is as important as the president’s role in proposing a nominee, and I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications."

    Duckworth urged Kirk to move forward with the Supreme Court confirmation process last month despite interference from Republican legislators. Kirk ultimately broke with fellow Republicans earlier this month to support moving forward with the process.

    Nevertheless, the battle over Garland’s confirmation is expected to continue. 

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