US President Barack Obama on Wednesday chose a white judge over Indian American Sri Srinivasan as his nominee to the Supreme Court, setting up a dramatic political fight with Senate Republicans who have vowed to block his choice.
Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, 63, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is much older than Chandigarh-born Srinivasan and other contenders on his short list such as judges Paul Watford and Jane Kelly.
In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Obama praised Garland, a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School and an appointee of president Bill Clinton as “one of America sharpest legal minds”.
After conducting interviews last week, Obama is reported to have narrowed his list to include Srinivasan, Garland, and Watford, each of them considered “consensus” candidates for their history in gaining confirmation support from Republicans.
But Senate Republicans do not plan to vet or have hearings on the nominee, and say the next president should be able to choose a replacement for justice Antonin Scalia who died last month.
Obama and Democrats argue that with 10 months left in his term, there is plenty of time for the Senate to take up and confirm a new justice.
Garland’s supporters argue he is the nominee that the senators couldn’t refuse even in a contentious environment, according to CNN. “He’s the establishment of the establishment,” one backer was quoted as saying.
Obama’s formal announcement came hours after telling his supporters in an email: “I’ve made my decision.”
“I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision,” he wrote.
“I’ve consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we’ve reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously.”