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tv   News  Al Jazeera  March 16, 2016 11:00am-12:01pm EDT

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the oldest nominee for the supreme court since lewis powell. that was back in 1972. he was 64 when he was nomined. merrick garland was nominated by the senate in his present position by 70 votes to 23 back in 1997. so merrick garland has had 19 years experience, and he has been waiting for his chance to go to the supreme court. his name was in the frame when president obama nominated elaine kagan, and son you sotomayor, but he got passed over at that point. his reputation is one of moderation. he is seen as a conservative when it comes to criminal justice issues. and the president has said today that he gave considerable attention to making this pick for the supreme court. he consulted legal experts up and down the land, and reached out to every member of the
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senate and indeed within the past hour, we have learned that every member of the senate judiciary committee will be in the rose garden just behind the oval office to my left here when the announcement is made any moment. now the thing to bare in mind is this is going to be the beginning of an all mighty fight between the republicans and democrats. the legacy of any u.s. president is never greater than picking a member of the supreme court. and the republicans have said no way to a nomination. no way to a hearing, we want the next president to make the nomination. however, the president has fulfilled his constitutional duties and made a pick. mike lee is a senator from utah. i don't have the completest
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comment, but the essence: and now a tweet from harry reid: and notice the hashtag there, stephanie. the hashtag is very interesting, hashtag, do your job, stephanie. >> all right. john stand by. i want to go out to kent greenfield a professor of boston college law school. thanks for your time. >> of course. >> just remind us why this is so important with the death of antonin scalia, of course, the court is ideologically split so this is a monumental nominee. >> it is. the court has been mostly conservative over the last
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couple of decades, and because scalia was so conservative, it was important to replace someone who is even in the center of the idealogical spectrum as garland is, would move the court as a whole to the left. and that would be a big deal and leave a lasting legacy for president obama. >> all right. i want to bring in another guest lincoln mitchell. lincoln this seems like a clear political choice, it will be really hard to deny him even a hearing. >> it is not a political choice. he nominated a centrist. he nominated a while male, and someone who is 63 years old. which means you are not going to get 30 years of merrick garland
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very likely. so he went to the center here, and forced the debate that is happening right now on twitter. the democrats are quick to say this is an easy guy. and the republicans are going to struggle now to not be seen simply as obstructionist. >> the president should be out any moment now. you are looking live at the podium in the rose garden. this will be president obama's third supreme court nominee. he has previously nominated and successfully they confirmed sonia sotomayor, as well as' lay that kagan. all right. we're going to go live now to the rose garden. let's listen in. >> good morning. everybody please have a seat.
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of the many powers and responsibilities that the constitution vests in the presidency, few are more consequential than appointing a supreme court justice. particularly one to succeed justice scalia, one of the most influential jurists of our time. the men and women who sit on the supreme court are the final arbiters of american law. they safeguard our rights. they ensure that our system is one of laws and not many. they are charged with the essential task of applying principles put to paper more than two centuries ago to some of the most challenging questions of our time. so this is not a responsibility that i take likely. it's a decision that requires me to set aside short-term expediency and narrow politic,
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maintain faith with our founders and more importantly, perhaps with future generations. and that's why i have done my best to set up a rigorous and comprehensive process. i have sought the advice of democratic and republican members of congress. we reached out to every member of the senate judiciary committee, to constitutional scholars, bar associations representing an array of interests and opinions from all across the spectrum. and today after completing this exhaustive process, i have made my decision. i have selected a nominee who is widely recognize, 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
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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. today i am nominating chief judge merrick brian garland to join the supreme court. [ applause ] >> now in law enforcement circles, and in the legal community at large, judge garland needs no introduction, but i would like to take a minute to introduce merrick to the american people whom he already so ably serves. he was born and raised in the land of lincoln, in my hometown
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of chicago, in my home state of illinois. his mother volunteered in the community. his father ran a small business out of their home. he became valedictorian of his public high school. he earned a scholarship to harvard, where he graduated zuma cue lawdy. and he worked as a tutor, by stocking shoes in a shoe store, and in what is always a painful for any young man, by selling his comic book collection. it's tough. been there. [ laughter ] >> merrick graduated magna cue law day from harvard law. he clerked for two of president eisenhowers judicial appointments.
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following his clerk ships, merrick joined a highly regarded law firm, where the practice focused on representation and pro bono representation of disadvantaged americans. within four years he earned a partnership. the dream of most lawyers. but in 1989 just months after that achievement, he made a highly unusual career decision. he walked away from a comfortable and lucrative law practice to return to public service. merrick accepted a low-level job as a federal prosecutor. took a 50% pay cut. traded in his office for a windowless closet that smelled of stale cigarette smoke. this was a time when crime here in washington had reached epidemic proportions, and he wanted to help. and he quickly made a name for
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himself. his sterling record as a prosecutor lead him to the justice department, where he oversaw some of the most significant prosecutions in the 1990s, including overseaing every aspect of the federal response to the oklahoma city bombing. in the aftermath of that act of terror when 168 people, many small children were murdered, merrick had one evening to say good-bye to his own young daughters before he boarded a plane to oklahoma city where he would remain for weeks. he worked side by side with first responders, rescue workers, local and federal law enforcement. he lead the investigation, and supervised the prosecution that brought timothy mcveigh to justice. but perhaps most important is the way he did it. throughout the process, merrick
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took pains to do everything by the book. when people offered to turn over evidence voluntarily, he refused. taking the harder route of obtaining the proper subpoenas instead, because merrick would take no chances that someone who murdered innocent americans might go free on a technicality. merrick also made a concerted effort to reach out to the victims and their families, updating them frequently on the case's progress. everywhere he went, he cared with him in his briefcase the program from the memorial service with each of the victim's names inside. a constant searing reminder of why he had to succeed. judge garland has often referred to his work on the oklahoma city case as, and i quote, the most important thing i have ever done in my life, and through it all he never lost touch with that community that he served.
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it's a no surprise then that soon after his work in oklahoma city, merrick was nominated to what often called the second highest court in the land. the d.c. circuit court. during that process, during that confirmation process, he earned overwhelming bipartisan praise from senators and legal experts alike. republican senator ore win hatch who was then chairman of the senate judiciary committee supported his nomination. he said in all honesty i would like to see one person come to this floor and say one reason why merrick garland does not deserve this position. the accused fellow republicans trying to obstruct the no, ma'am dmags of playing politics with judges, and he has since said that judge garland would be a
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consensus nominee for the supreme court who would be very well supported by both sides. ultimately merrick was confirmed to the d.c. circuit. the second highest court in the land with votes from a majority of democrats and a majority of republicans. three years ago he was elevated to chief judge. and in his 19 years on the d.c. circuit, judge garland has brought his trademark diligence, compassion, and unwavering regard for the rule of law to his work. a circuit court known for strong minded judges on both ends of the spectrum, judge garland has earned a track record of building consensus as a thoughtful, fair-minded judge who follows the law. he has shown a rare ability to bring together odd couples,
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persuade colleagues with wide-ranging judicial philosophies to sign on to his opinions. and this record on the bench speaks, i believe to judge gar lan's fundamental temperament, his insistence that all views deserve a respectful hearing. his habit to borrow a phrase from former justice john paul stevens, of understanding before disagreeing. and then disagreeing without being disagreeable. it speaks to his ability to persuade. to respond to the concerns of others with sound arguments and air-tight logic. as his former colleague on the d.c. circuit, john roberts once said, any time judge garland disagrees, you know you are in a difficult area. at the same time, chief judge garland is more than just a brilliant legal mind.
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he is someone who has a keen understanding that justice is about more than abstract legal theory, more than some footnote in a dusty case book. his life experience, his experience in places like oklahoma city forms his view that the law is more than an intellectual exercise. he understands the way law effects the daily reality of people's lives in rapidly changing times. and out there his juris prudence runs a common thread, a dedication to protecting the rights of every american. and make sure powerful voices not be allowed to drown out the voices of every day americans. to find someone with such a long career of public service, marked by complex and sensitive issues, to find someone who just about everyone not only respects, but
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genuinely likes, that is rare. and speaks to who merrick garland is, not just as a lawyer, but as a man. people respect the way he treats others, his genuine courtesy and respect for his colleagues and those who come before his court. they admire his civic mindedness, urging his clerks to use their legal training to serve their communities, setting his own example by tutoring a young student each year for the past 18 years. they are moved by his deep devotion to his family. lynn, his wife of nearly 30 years, and their two daughters becky and jessica. as a family they indulge their love of hiking and skiing and canoeing and their love of america by visiting our national
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parks. people respect merrick's deep and abiding passion for protecting our most basic constitutional rights. it's a passion i'm told that manifested it's a at an early age. one story is indicative of this. as valedictorian he had to deliver a commencement address. the other student unleached a firey technique of the vietnam war. several parents decided to unplug the sound system, and the rest of the student's speech was muffled. and merrick didn't necessarily agree with the tone of his classmate's remarks, nor his choice of topic for that day, but stirred by the sight of a fellow student's voice being silenced, he tossed aside his prepared marks, and delivered a passionate impromptu defense of our first amendment rights.
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it was the beginning of a lifelong career as a lawyer and prosecutor, and as a judge devoted to protecting the rights of others. and he has done that work with decency, and humanity, and common sense, and a common touch. and i'm proud that he will continue that work on our nation's highest court. i said i would take this process seriously, and i did. i chose a serious man, and exemplary judge, merrick garland. over my seven years as president, in all of my conversations with senators from both parties in which i asked their views on qualified supreme court nominees, this includes the previous two seats that i had to fill, the one name that has come up repeatedly from republicans and democrats alike
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is merrick garland. i recognize we have entered the political season, or perhaps these days it never ends, a political season that is even noisier and more volatile than usual. i know that republicans will point to democrats who have made it hard for republican presidents to get their nominees to get their nominees confirmed, and they are not wrong about that. there has been politics involved in nominations in the past, although it should be pointed out that in each of those instances, democrats ultimately confirmed a nominee put forward by a republican president. i also know that because of justice scalia's outsized role on the court and in american law, and the fact that americans are closely divided on a number
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of issues before the court, it is tempting to make this confirmation process an extension of our divided politics. but to go down that path would be wrong. it would be a betrayal of our best traditions. and a betrayal of the vision of our founding documents. at a time when our politics are so polarized. at a time when norms and customs of political rhetoric, and courtesy, and comedy are so often treated like they are disposable, this is precisely the time when we should play it straight and treat the process of appointing a supreme court justice with the seriousness and care it deserves. because our supreme court really
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is unique. it is supposed to be above politics. it has to be. and it should stay that way. to suggest that someone is qualified and respected as merrick garland doesn't even deserve a hearing, let alone an up or down vote to join an institution as important as our supreme court when two thirds of americans believe otherwise, that would be unprecedented. to suggest that someone who has served his country with honor and dignity, with a distinguished track record, might be treated as a political pinata, that can't be right. tomorrow judge garland will travel to the hill to begin meeting with senators one on one. i simply ask republicans in the
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senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up or down vote. if you don't, then it will not only be an violation of the senate's constitutional duty, it will be a violation of the process of nominating judges that is beyond repair. it will mean that everything is subject to the most partisan of politics. everything. it will provoke an endless cycle of more tit-for-tat, and make it increasingly difficult for any president to carry out their constitutional function. the reputation of the supreme court will inevitably suffer. faith in our justice system will inevitably suffer. our democracy will ultimately
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suffer as well. i have fulfilled my constitutional duty. now it's time for the senate to do theirs. presidents do not stop working in the final year of their term. neither should a senator. i know that tomorrow the senate will take a break and leave town on recess for two weeks. my earnest hope is that senators take that time to reflect on the importance of this process to our democracy. not what is expedient. not what is happening at the moment. what does this mean for our institutions? for our common life? the stakes, the consequences, the seriousness of the job we all swore an oath to do. and when they return, i hope that they will act in a
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bipartisan fashion. i hope they are fair. that's all. i hope they are fair. as they did when they confirmed merrick garland to the d.c. circuit. i ask that they confirm merrick garland now to the supreme court, so that he can take his seat in time to fully participate in its work for the american people this fall. he is the right man for the job. he deserves to be confirmed. i could not be prouder of the work that he has already done on behalf of the american people. he deserves our thanks, and he deserves a fair hearing. and with that i would like to invite judge garland to say a few words. [ applause ]
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>> thank you mr. president. this is the greatest honor of my life. other than lynn agreeing to marry me 28 years ago. it is also the greatest gift i have ever received, except, the birth of our daughters, jesse, and becky. as my parents taught me, by both words and deeds, a life of public service is as much a gift to the person who serves as it is to those he is serving. and for me there could be no hire public service than serving as a member of the united states supreme court. my family deserves much of the
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credit for the path that lead me here. my grand parents left the pail of settlement in the early 1900s, fleeing anti-semitism, and hoping to make a better life for their children in america. they settled in the mideast, eventually making their way to chicago. there my father who ran the smallest of small businesses from a room in our basement took me with him as he made the rounds to his customers, always impressing upon me, the importance of hard work and fair dealing. there my mother headed the local pta and school board and directed a volunteer services agency, all the while instilling in my sisters and me, the understanding that service to the community is a responsibility above all others. even now my sisters honor that
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example by serving the children of their communities. i know that my mother is watching this on television, and crying her eyes out. [ laughter ] >> so are my sisters who have supported me in every step i have ever taken. i only wish that my father were here to see this today. i also wish that we hadn't taught my older daughter to be so adventurous that she would be hiking in the mountains out of cell service range when the president called. [ laughter ] >> it was the sense of responsibility to serve the community instilled by my parents that lead me to leave my law firm to become a line prosecutor in 1989. there one of my first assignments was to assist in the prosecution of a violent gang that has come down to the district from new york took over a public housing project and terrorized the residents. the hardest job we faced was
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persuading mothers and grandmothers that if they testified, we would be able to keep them safe, and convict the gang members. we succeeded only by convincing witnesses and victims that they could trust that the rule of law would prevail. years later when i went to oklahoma city to investigate the bombing of the federal building, i saw up close the devastation that can happen when someone abandons the justice system as a way of resolving grievances, and instead takes matters into his own hands. once again i saw the importance of assuring victims and families that the justice system could work. we promised that we would find the perpetrators; that we would bring them to justice; and that we would do it in a way that honored the constitution.
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the people of oklahoma gave us their trust, and we did everything we could to live up to it. trust that justice will be done in our courts without prejudice or partisanship is what in a large part distinguishes this country from others. people must be confident that a judge's decisions are determined by the law and only the law. 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. he or she must put aside his personal views or preferences and follow the law, not make it. -- fidelity to the constitution and the law has been the cornerstone of my professional life, and is the hallmark of the kind of judge i have tried to be for the past 18 years.
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if the senate sees fit to confirm me for the position to which i have been nominated today, i promise to continue on that course. mr. president, it is a great privilege to be nominated by a fellow chicagoan. i am grateful beyond words for the honor you have bestowed upon me. [ applause ] >> merrick garland the man that the president has chosen as his nominee to the supreme court walking back into the white house now. he is the chief justice of the d.c. circuit court of appeals, a former prosecutor, who prosecuted the oklahoma case, despite all of that his nomination must go through the
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republican-controlled senate, and they have vowed to block a hearing for any nominee. >> reporter: stephanie i was struck by incredibly kind words from president obama about his nominee. 63 year old merrick garland, as you say, the current chief justice on the d.c. court of appeals. and listen to some of the things that the president said about him. that he was widely recognized as one of the sharpest legal minds in the country, and then addressing the american people directly. someone who is uniquely prepared to serve on the supreme court immediately, as you heard, the joke at the end there, he is a man from chicago, illinois, the place the president calls home these days. the clerked for eisenhower appointees. in 1989 he walked out of his comfortable law practice to become a prosecutor here in dc.
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and there was a lot made of the fact that the oversaw the entire prosecution of the oklahoma city bombing, and then on to the d.c. circuit appeals court. it's 19 years that he has been there. finally president obama saying that he understands -- merrick garland understands that the law is more ababstract theory, more than dusty case book words, and that the law affects real lives. here is more about what president obama had to say. >> the circuit court known for strong minded judges on both ends of the spectrum. judge garland has earned a track record as a thoughtful fair minded judge who follows the law. he has shown a rare ability to bring together odd couples, assemble unlikely coalitions, persuade colleagues with wide ranging judicial philosophies to
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sign on to his opinions. >> reporter: and you heard merrick garland at the end saying this was the greatest honor of his life. but as everyone knows the fight now begins. merrick garland will go up to meet senators in particular on a one on one basis. and the president said i simply ask for a fair hearing and then an up or down vote, nothing more than that. he asked the senate to do more than reflect on the pick and reflect on what it would mean if there wasn't confirmation hearings for him. stephanie? >> thank you, john. i want to bring in kent greenfield, processor of law at boston college law school. thanks for sticking with us. >> of course. >> what do you make of this choice, merrick garland, a name we'll be hearing a lot of in the coming months.
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>> right. i think it's a masterful pick for two reasons. this judge's credentials are impeccable. he went to harvard college, he graduated with top honors, he prosecuted terrorists, he is the chief judge of the second highest court in the land there in dc. he clerked as a young lawyer for two of the most pre-eminent judges ever, one on the second circuit, and william brennan on the supreme court. it is imminently qualified. and this also does -- i think it's masterful because it paints the g.o.p. senators in a corner. they now have to say that this person is not qualified for the court or that doesn't even merit a hearing. that is going to be a hard case to make, especially since they are now running the risk that you are either going to have
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hillary clinton appointing someone who is probably going to be the left, or donald trump appointing someone, and the g.o.p. establishment doesn't want either. >> i just want to turn to a tweet sent out by orrin hatch. he is still on the judiciary committee. you probably also new that senator hatch actually supported merrick garland previously when he was up for a supreme court vacancy, and here is what he wrote this morning on twitter: does that give you an indication that he is going to try to block this along with other republican colleagues on the senate judiciary committee. >> absolutely. but i think the politics will shift over the next few months. they are saying the supreme court is not that important. that it can go with a vacancy
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for 12, 18 months, and it not be a problem for the american people? >> can it? there has been times in history where the supreme court has had a vacancy -- what was the record 300 days or something? >> no, less than that. 100 years ago a justice waited 120-some days. and now we're looking at a confirmation battle that would last for over a year. and that is ridiculous. what happens when a court has eight justices, most of the most important cases that will be heard will be a four to four split. and what happens then is the supreme court's decision doesn't create a precedent and merely upholds whoever the lower court decision that is under review has held. and so you end up maintaining disagreements among lower courts for that period of time. you disable the supreme court from making the most important
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decisions of our day. even this term they are considering cases about affirmative action, about voting rights, about public employee unions, abortion rights. all of these cases are really, really important, and all of them are very, very finely -- they -- they -- they defend on a vote or two. so these are the kinds of decisions that a supreme court -- >> and to that end can't one understand why the republicans might want to hold this up in a presidential year, because there is an idealogical split now. it is four liberals and four mostly conservative justices. could you understand why republicans might not think this would be the voters' will? >> yes, i can. and obama is doing what -- in some ways what he wants. even a move to merrick garland who is in -- basically the center of the spectrum from the
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far right from where antonin scalia is, that is an important shift. but he is painting a g.o.p. in the corner, because they -- they in effect are risking something worse in hillary clinton is elected this fall, which is getting to be more and more probable it looks from the political side, and so merrick garland is 63 years old. the oldest nominee ever in history. ruth bader-ginsberg was 60 when she was appointed. he is 63. so they can either accept an older, moderate justice now, or they can risk having hillary clinton appoint someone 20 years judge garland's junior and further to the left. and that's a calculation that i think obama made and i think it's a very astute one. >> all right. kent stand by. president obama asked congress to put aside partisan politic and confirm merrick during this
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announcement. listen to this. >> i know because of justice scalia's outsized role on the court and in american law, and in any fact that americans are closely divided on a number of issues before the court, it is tempting to make this confirmation process simply an extension of our divided politics. the skobling that is going on in the news every day, but to go down that path would be wrong. >> i want to bring in another guest here. lincoln mitchell is a national political correspondent to the new york observer and has been joining me all morning to talk about second supertooulz results, and this all plays into the 2016 race. do you think voters are following what is happening here with the supreme court pick? and could this sway the g.o.p. race? could it effect the presidential politics? >> it's unlikely to effect
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primary politics. voters do pay attention to the supreme court with regards to general elections. and one of the things that both parties say to their base to bring them out, is if for no other reason you have to vote on the supreme court, if you are a democrat that's abortion rights, and if you are a republican it's a bunch of different issues. so if this remains a vacancy, it will become important in november. i don't think what strategists are saying is what we want to do is have an election where white middle age women are a key segment, and we want to talk mostly about abortion rights. >> as kent said, it is not clear where merrick standings on all of these issues, so in that sense, you know, what do you make of this type of pick? >> in the short-term this is a very smart decision. it shows the ill logic of the
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republican position. what are they fighting for? if you don't like a nominee you have a constitutional right to reject that nominee. but to say we're not going to hear. they are in a position of shouting down someone who from the looks of it is a smart moderate decent guy. the other piece of this, is the tweet that said we want to wait until the american people have spoken. they spoke in november of 2012, and they spoke in november of 2008 -- >> but they also spoke in 2014 and gave the power to the republicans in the senate. >> right, but what happens if 18 months before the end of a presidential term a supreme court justice dies. and if you start making that argument, it's a slippery slope. >> the word obstructionism has come up. i believe it was bernie sanders
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said it. can democrats play this to their favor in that sense? painting this as republican obstructionism against an entire branch of government? >> yes, and the reason for that is the republicans in the senate have said in many different mediums we are going to be obstructionists, so, yes. >> all right. lincoln stand by. we're going to continue with this. much more reaction ahead to the president's choice to replace the late antonin scalia on the supreme court. stay with us.
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>> i also know because of
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justice scalia's out sized role on the court and in american law, it is tempting to make this confirmation process simply an extension of our divided politics. squobbling that goes on in the news every day. >> president obama has made his pick to fulfill antonin scalia's seat on the supreme court. we are starting to get reaction now, and i believe that we are watching live senator mitch mcconnell own the floor reacting to the president's pick. >> -- give the people a voice in filling this vacancy. let me remind colleagues of what vice president biden said here in the senate. here is what he said. it would be our pragmatic
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conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. that is what is fair to the nominee, he said, and is central to the process. otherwise it seems to be chairman biden went on, we will be in deep trouble as an institution. others may fret that this would leave the supreme court for sometime, but as i see it, the cost of such a result, the need to reargue threer or four cases that will divide the justice 4-4, are quite minor, compared that the cost that a nominee, the president, the senate, and the nation would have to pay for what would assuredly be a bitter
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fight no matter how good of person is nominated by the president. chairman joe biden. consider that last part. senator biden said that the cost to the nation would be too great no matter who the president nominates. president obama and his allies may now try to pretend this disagreement is about a person, but as i just noted his own vice president made it clear it's not. the biden rule reminds us that the decision the senate announced weeks ago remains about a principle and not a person. about a principle and not a person. it seems clear that president obama made this nomination not -- not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election,
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which is the type of thing then senate judiciary committee chairman biden was concerned about, the exact thing chairman biden was concerned about. the biden rule underlines that what the president has done with this nomination would be unfair to any nominee, and more importantly the rule warrants of the great cost the president's action could carry for our nation. americans are certain to hear a lot of rhetoric from the other side in the coming days, but here are the facts they should keep in mind. the current democratic leader said the senate is not a rubber stamp, and he noted that the constitution does not require the senate to give presidential nominees a vote. that's the current democratic leader. the in coming democratic leader
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did not even wait until the final year of george w. bush's term to tell the senate not to consider any supreme court nominee the president sent. the bider rule supports what the senate is doing today. underlining that what we're talking about is a principle and not a person. so here is our view, instead of spending more time debating an issue where we can't agree, let's keep working to address the issues where we can. we just pass critical bipartisan legislation to help address the heroin and prescription opioid process in our country. let's build on that success. let's keep working together to get our economy moving again, and make our country safer rather than endlessly debating an issue where we don't agree. as we continue working on issues
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like these, the american people are perfectly capable of having their say, their say, on this issue. so let's give them a voice. let's let the american people decide. the senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee, the next president nominates whoever that might be. >> senate mitch mcconnell, the majority leader reacting to president obama's decision to pick merrick garland as his choice to fulfill the vacancy on the supreme court. he is holding to his guns saying they will not hold a hearing. kent what constitutional grounds to republicans have to block even a hearing on a presidential
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nominee to the supreme court? >> well, they are in control of the senate, and they can be the judge of their own constitutional obligations. but they have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent. that doesn't mean that they actually have to hold hearings. although it is constitutionally awkward. and i agree with lincoln that the politics here will increasingly be in the president's favor in the next few months. who is mcdonell fighting for? donald trump? that's not going to play out well. and it's not only going to be presidential politics. remember we have 24 senate seats held by republicans up for election this fall. and many of those are in states like illinois, new hampshire, pennsylvania, that are essentially purple states, so you are going to have these
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republican candidates for senate walking around trying to get votes where people are going to say do your job, and moreover they are risking -- they are going to have to vote on a nominee eventually, right? they can't hold this seat vacant forever. and once they realize merrick garland is about as good as they are going to get, they are going to vote. >> let's talk about merrick garland. senator mcconnell said this isn't about a person, but it is. what kind of pressure is on him right now? and is there anything he can do? can he knock on doors of members of the judiciary committee and try to get a hearing? >> usually when a person is nominated they will spending a few weeks preparing for the confirmation hearings, and the confirmation hearings are political theater, where they
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sit before the committee and withstand questioning for two, three, four, days. and this will be unlikely confirmation battle that i have seen in my lifetime, simply because the republicans have refused to even -- to -- to hold hearings, much less take -- take a vote. so the -- the key here i think is merrick garland's impeccable credentials. i was impressed by his presence there and poise. his personal touch. all of those things will work in his favor. and this will be -- his -- his no, ma'am -- nomination will be the most scrutinized nomination in the history of the court. >> the history of the court? >> well, maybe with the sense shun of loui brandice a hundred years ago.
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his credentials are impeccable. and i think one of the reasons that president obama took a few more weeks than most people thought he would, to vet his nominee, was to make sure there was nothing in his background that could be a sticking point. so i think because he is so credentials and such an impeccable decent human being, it will be harder and harder to say we're not even going to meet with him. >> let's find out more about merrick garland. >> fidelity to the constitution and the law has been the cornerstone of my professional life, and is the hallmark of the kind of judge i have tried to be for the past 18 years. if the senate sees fit to confirm me to the position for
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which i have been nominated today, i promise to continue on course. >> kent i want to bring you in to talk a little bit more about what we know and merrick garland, how much do we know about where he stands on some of the key cases before the supreme court. abortion rights, affirmative action, environmental regulation. do we know where he standings? >> we don't. as a lower court judge there is some flexibility in the way you make judgments but you are always beholden to the supreme court. so even if we can read his paper trail, it's unknown, really, how someone will vote once they become a justice on the supreme court. and there has famously been justices that join the court and then seem to change their views over time.
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so, you know, byron white became more conservative over the decades he was on the court. some say david suitor became more liberal. so who knows how he would actually vote -- >> but presumably -- presumably -- you know, the supreme court nominee is sort of a classic presidential legacy. so presumably president obama in the vetting process would have some idea of who he would be giving a lifetime appointment to. >> absolutely. and in that respect i'm sure he is not going to be outside of the main stream of american juris prudence, but i bought that the president -- from what i understand about the president's vetting process, i bought he would be imposing a litmus test. that's improper, and i would sincerely bought that the president did that. that doesn't mean that the senate won't be able to ask him those questions in a
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confirmation hearing. but even in those hearings the nominee as has been the practice in the past has refused to answer because of pending cases. but you can certainly question a nominee about his judicial philosophy, how does he go about making these decisions. and in that respect, judge garland is in the brood main street of american juris prudence. >> sure. >> and constitutional text. >> thanks so much for joining us. president obama says senators should think about the long-term effect of their decision not to give garland a hearing. >> presidents do not stop working in the final year of their term. neither should a senator. i know that tomorrow the senate will take a break and leave town on recess for two weeks. my earnest hope is that senators take that time to reflect on the
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importance of this process to our democracy, not what is expedient, not what is happening at the moment. what does this mean for our institutions, for common life. >> i'm going to bring back lincoln mitchell, political correspondent for the new york observer just to close this out with a conversation on where this goes from here. there are five blue and swing-state senate republicans that could be at risk in the november elections. is this going to be an issue for them? >> yes. those senators, they don't want to run as part of the far right tea party obstructionist block within the senate. and one way to differentiate themselves is on this issue. and this is an issue, particularly the supreme court justice would probably resinate with many of them. this is a big issue for them. >> would you predict that there might be a possibility that there could be a hearing at this point? if president obama can get to some of those republicans?
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>> yes, there could be. but the republican leadership has really backed themselves into a corner. it's hard to see what a deal looks like around something like that so as to concede defeat. and they don't want to do that either. most of the republicans are more concerned with being primary from the right for the general election. >> lincoln mitchell thank you so much. you have been watching al jazeera america special coverage of president obama's pick to be the nominee for the supreme court. his name is merrick garland. he is the chief justice of the d.c. appeals court. he has been serving on that court for 19 years. it is a fight that is expected to be bitter as republicans continue to vow not to hold even confirmation hearings for him. much more analysis on al jazeera throughout the day. thanks for watching. i'm stephanie sy in new york. ♪ favour ted cruz.
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hello there, i'm felicity barr, and this is al jazeera live from london. also coming up -- >> today i am nominating chief judge merrick brian garland to join the supreme court. >> the u.s. president makes his pick, but the republican controlled senate still has the final call. the race for the whi