— -- President Obama hopped a flight today to his old stomping grounds at the University of Chicago Law School, where he taught for more than a decade, to make his case for his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
“No one has plausibly made an argument that this is not the kind of person we'd want on the Supreme Court,” Obama said. “The question then becomes: Why is it so hard for the guy just to get a hearing and a vote?”
Obama fielded multiple questions from the group of students and faculty members in a town hall-like setting. The former professor found himself weighing his eight years as president as he attempted to lecture the sometimes-confrontational students.
Asked to defend against some critics who argued Garland wasn't a diverse enough nominee, Obama argued he had already transformed federal courts' diversity "with a record that's been unmatched."
"But at no point did I say, 'Oh you know what, I need a black lesbian from Skokie in that slot, can you find me one?'" Obama said. "Yeah, [Garland is] a white guy, but he’s really an outstanding jurist. Sorry!”
Obama was also at one point confronted by a student over his controversial expansion of the secretive U.S. drone program. Obama made a lengthy defense, admitting that while the program needed more transparency, the strikes were vastly favorable to the consequences found in ground warfare.
"I don’t have the luxury of just not doing anything and then being able to stand back and feel as if my conscience is very clear," Obama said. "Because there are folks out there who are genuinely trying to kill us. And would be happy to blow up this entire room, without any compunction, and are actively trying to find ways to do it. I wish I could just send in Iron Man."
The lecture might not be the last the students see of Obama.
Prior to his remarks, Obama made a surprise stop in an overflow room of students, where he gave a potential hint at his plans post-presidency.
"Who knows? I may come back here and teach a once a week seminar in which [there are] no papers to grade, which I know will be very popular,” Obama said. “We'll just sit around and talk.”