President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, a judicial moderate who currently serves as the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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"The men and women who sit on the Supreme Court are the final arbiters of American law," Obama said in the Rose Garden today. "I've selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of America's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence."
"These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle. He will ultimately bring that same character to bear on the Supreme Court, an institution in which he is uniquely prepared to serve immediately," the president continued.
Garland, who choked up at one point, said, "This is the greatest honor of my life. For me, there could be no higher public service than serving as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Obama said Garland will travel to Capitol Hill tomorrow to begin meeting with senators one-on-one. Senate Republican leaders have already vowed not to hold hearings on Obama’s nominee and want to delay filling the vacancy until after November’s election.
Today’s announcement comes after the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month set in motion weeks of intense partisan fighting over filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.
President Bill Clinton nominated Garland to his current seat on the D.C. Circuit Court, where he’s served since 1997 and became chief judge in 2013.
Garland has spent most of his career in government, serving as a federal prosecutor before becoming a judge. He led the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing and of Theodore Kaczynski, better known as the “Unabomber.” He has also spent some of his career in private practice.
Garland graduated from Harvard Law School in 1977 and went on to clerk for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan.
At age 63, Garland would be one of the oldest associate justices ever appointed to the Supreme Court.
ABC News' Ben Siegel contributed to this report.