The Latest: McConnell tells Garland he won’t be considered

March 16, 2016 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Barack Obama nominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court that the Senate won’t consider his nomination.

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart says the Senate’s majority leader spoke to nominee Merrick Garland by phone on Wednesday. Stewart says McConnell repeated his long-held position that the Senate won’t consider a nominee for the high court until the next president nominates one.

Most Republicans have rallied behind McConnell’s opposition to considering any Obama selection. McConnell and many other GOP senators say they wouldn’t even meet with a nominee.

Stewart says McConnell felt it was more considerate of Garland to talk by phone, and not subject him to “more unnecessary political routines orchestrated by the White House.”

Stewart says McConnell wished Garland well in the Wednesday afternoon call, which the spokesman says did not last long.


2:45 p.m.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he stands with his Republican colleagues in the Senate in opposing President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court.

The Republican presidential candidate said in a statement Wednesday that Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland “is exactly the type of Supreme Court nominee you get when you make deals in Washington.”

Cruz said if Garland were confirmed, he would undermine Second Amendment gun rights, legalize late-term abortions and empower “overreaching bureaucratic agencies.”

Cruz has said he does not want the Senate to vote on any nominee until after the next president is sworn into office.


1:50 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is calling Judge Merrick Garland a strong nominee for the Supreme Court and arguing that refusing to hold hearings for his nomination would be unprecedented.

President Barack Obama nominated Garland for the high court on Wednesday. Garland is the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Republican-led Senate must confirm his nomination to the court.

In a statement, Sanders notes that the 63-year-old Garland has decades of experience on the bench. Sanders says Obama has done his job by nominating Garland and that Senate Republicans now must do theirs.

Sanders is calling on Republicans to hold confirmation hearings and bring the nomination to the floor of the Senate if Garland is approved by the Judiciary Committee.


1:45 p.m.

Some advocacy groups on both sides of the political spectrum are taking issue with President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve on the Supreme Court.

The committee responsible for helping GOP candidates win their Senate races, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, describes federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland as a “liberal, an activist and one of Obama’s most reliable allies in the judicial system.”

A group that backs candidates who oppose abortion rights, the Susan B. Anthony List, says it doesn’t know Garland but knows that anyone Obama nominates will join the voting bloc on the court that consistently upholds abortion on demand.

Some groups are saying Garland isn’t liberal enough. A group started by former Gov. Howard Dean, Democracy for America, says it’s deeply disappointed that Obama didn’t add “another progressive woman of color to the court.” Instead, the group says, Obama’s pick seems designed to appease intransigent Republicans rather than inspire the grassroots.


1:25 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says President Barack Obama should not rush to nominate a Supreme Court justice because of the “polarization” in Congress.

Speaking to a crowd at Villanova University, the Republican presidential candidate said Wednesday that the president shouldn’t “stiff the legislative body” by rushing to a decision that isn’t in the country’s best interest.

Said Kasich: “If I think I’m gonna blow something up in the seventh year, I’m not gonna do it.”


12:50 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has a “brilliant legal mind and a long history of bipartisan support and admiration” and it’s up to the Senate to perform their Constitutional duty “they swore to undertake.”

Clinton says the confirmation of a justice “should not be an exercise in political brinkmanship and partisan posturing.” She says it’s a “serious obligation” that doesn’t depend “on the party affiliation of a sitting president, nor does the Constitution make an exception to that duty in an election year.”

She notes the Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a Supreme Court nominee and Garland deserves a “full and fair hearing followed by a vote.”


11:55 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the American people must have a voice in November on filling the Supreme Court vacancy.

In a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican made it clear that the GOP-led Senate will not consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, but will wait until after the next president is in place.

McConnell said the view of the GOP is “give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”

Democrats and the White House are pressuring the GOP to act. Obama, in announcing his nominee, said Garland would be making the customary visit to Capitol Hill to meet with senators on Thursday. The Senate is planning a two-week break at the end of the week.


11:50 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley isn’t swayed by President Barack Obama’s pick for a Supreme Court nominee.

President Barack Obama nominated appeals court judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month. Senate Republicans have said for weeks that they won’t hold a hearing or a vote on Obama’s nominee.

In a statement issued just after Garland spoke in the White House Rose Garden, Republican Grassley said “a lifetime appointment that could dramatically impact individual freedoms and change the direction of the court for at least a generation is too important to get bogged down in politics.”

He said this year is an opportunity for the country to have an honest debate about the role of the Supreme Court.


11:45 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid evoked Republican front-runner Donald Trump in calling on Republicans to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.

In a statement Wednesday, Reid said Trump had called on the GOP to block the nominee. The Nevada Democrat says Republicans face a choice of “blindly taking their marching orders from Donald Trump, or doing their jobs and providing fair consideration to this highly-qualified nominee.”

Despite unified opposition to considering any nominee in an election year, Reid said he was optimistic that “cooler heads will prevail” and “sensible Republicans” will treat Garland fairly


11:35 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland says fidelity to the law and the Constitution has been the cornerstone of his professional life. He’s promising to bring that same principle to the high court if confirmed.

Garland was visibly emotional as he accepted President Barack Obama’s nomination in the White House Rose Garden with his family watching. He says being nominated by President Barack Obama is the greatest honor of his life, other than marrying his wife. He says there could be no higher public service in his view.

Garland says judges must put aside their personal views and preferences, and follow the law instead of making it. He says that’s a hallmark of the judge he’s tried to be for the last 18 years.

Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.


11:25 a.m.

President Barack Obama says allowing the Supreme Court confirmation process to become an extension of the presidential race would be wrong. He says that would betray America’s best traditions.

Obama is urging Senate Republicans to grant hearings and a confirmation vote to Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He says if they don’t, it would be an abdication for the Senate’s constitutional duty and would show the nominating process is “beyond repair.”

Obama says the Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics.

The president says Garland will travel to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet one-on-one with senators.


11:20 a.m.

President Barack Obama says his nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, is uniquely qualified to serve on the court immediately.

Obama says during an announcement in the White House Rose Garden that Garland earned a scholarship to Harvard, put himself through law school and went on to become a partner at a law firm in just four years. He says Garland then made the highly unusual choice of giving that up and accepting a job as a federal prosecutor. At the time, Obama says, crime was rampant in Washington D.C., and Garland wanted to help.

Obama noted that Garland oversaw the federal government’s response to the deadly bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. Obama says the case informed his view that the law is more than an intellectual exercise and that he believes in protecting the basic rights of every American.

Garland has served for 19 years on United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and became its chief judge in 2013. Obama says, “I chose a serious man and an exemplary judge.”


11:10 a.m.

President Barack Obama says federal appellate judge Merrick Garland would bring a spirit of modesty, integrity and even-handedness to the Supreme Court.

Obama is announcing that he’s nominating Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He says Garland is widely recognized for his excellence. He’s pointing to Garland’s experience as a law clerk, a prosecutor and as chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Obama says he went through a rigorous and comprehensive process to pick his nominee. He says he sought to set aside short-term expediency and “narrow politics.”

The president says he reached out to every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to seek advice about the nomination.


11:00 a.m.

Republicans are holding firm against letting President Barack Obama pick the next Supreme Court justice after learning that Obama is nominating federal appellate judge Merrick Garland.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says even though he voted for Garland when he was first confirmed in 1997, he’s opposed now. He says it’s not about the nominee, but about the process.

Roberts says Garland “may very well be a very good nominee.” Still, he says the American people should decide and not Obama.

Senate Republicans have insisted for weeks that they won’t hold hearings or a confirmation vote on Obama’s pick. Some Republicans have even said they’d refuse to meet with Obama’s nominee.


10:15 a.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama is nominating federal appellate judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because nobody is better suited to serve immediately.

Obama plans to announce his nomination on Wednesday morning in the Rose Garden. Garland is the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and would replace the late Antonin Scalia.

The White House says Garland has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history, and that he’s known for building consensus.