Judge Merrick Garland called President Obama’s decision to nominate him for the critical ninth seat on the Supreme Court the "greatest honor of his life" and said he is "grateful beyond words" for a chance to serve as a justice.
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Considered a moderate, Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Garland would replace long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, whose sudden death last month put the Supreme Court’s ideological balance up for grabs.
"For me there could be no higher service than serving as a member of the United States Supreme Court," Garland said today during a Rose Garden ceremony where he stood alongside Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Choking back tears and looking out at his wife in the audience, Garland said, "This is the greatest honor of my life other than Lynn agreeing to marry me more than 20 years ago."
Garland, 63, and Lynn were married in 1987 and have two daughters. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he has spent a majority of his career in government. During his remarks, Garland spoke about his Midwest roots and how his parents showed him the importance of service to the community and taught him the value of hard work.
"I know that my mother is watching this on television and crying her eyes out," Garland said, adding that he only wished his father was alive to enjoy this day.
Garland also talked about how his grandparents emigrated from Russia and eastern Europe to escape chronic anti-Semitism in the 1900s and to build a better life for themselves in the United States. His parents settled in the Midwest and later moved to Chicago where he spent most of his childhood.
While the mood in the Rose Garden this morning was celebratory, Garland is expected to run into fierce opposition from Senate Republicans who have vowed not to hold hearings or a vote on Scalia’s replacement. They argue that the next president should fill that spot.
"People must be confident that a judge's decisions are determined by the law and only the law," Garland said. "For a judge to be worthy of such trust, he or she must be faithful to the Constitution and to the statutes passed by the Congress."