President Barack Obama on Wednesday will nominate Merrick Garland, a veteran federal appeals court judge viewed as a moderate, to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer told Reuters.
The nomination of Garland, 63, who currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, would set up a potentially ferocious political showdown with Senate Republicans.
Garland, 63, is a long-time appellate judge and former prosecutor who Obama also considered when he filled two previous Supreme Court vacancies. Federal appeals court judge Sri Srinivasan also had been a finalist for the nomination.
Obama said in a statement released by the White House that he will unveil his nominee at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) in the White House Rose Garden. Schumer is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership.
Obama has been searching for a replacement for long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13.
Garland, who in the past has earned praise from lawmakers of both parties, was named to his current job by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997, winning Senate confirmation in a 76-23 vote. Prior to that, he served in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.
“I’m confident you’ll share my conviction that this American is not only eminently qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, but deserves a fair hearing, and an up-or-down vote,” Obama said in the statement ahead of his scheduled announcement in the White House Rose Garden.
Senate Republicans have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings or a vote on any nominee picked by the Democratic president for the lifetime position on the court. Senate confirmation is required for any nominee to join the bench.
Obama said he hoped the Senate would do its job and “move quickly to consider my nominee.”
Without Scalia, the nine-member Supreme Court is evenly split with four liberals and four conservative justices. Obama’s nominee could tilt the court to the left for the first time in decades.