New Supreme Court nomination yields possible outcomes

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - President Obama's pick to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court has also set off a battle with Senate Republicans, even though 63-year-old Merrick Garland, a moderate, has been regarded by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

"He's got the resume to die for as a judge. The only people with better judicial resumes than Merrick Garland are the people already on the Supreme Court," said Sam Nelson, Political Science Chair at the University of Toledo. 

The Senate has stuck with their claim that the President should not be able to nominate or confirm a justice in the last year of a presidency. But does that view resonate with most Americans?

"Polling is showing that the public isn't really buying that story, and that puts (Senate Republicans) in a tough spot," said Nelson.

Because Garland has won praise from many politicians and national leaders, UT Law Professor Rebecca Zietlow says it's not a surprise that President Obama chose him.

"I think just about anyone would agree that there's no person in the U.S. who is better qualified to be on the Supreme Court," said Nelson.

Experts have also indicated that the Senate Republicans holding out on a hearing could backfire as things change during the election year.

"If they don't hold hearings, and another Democrat is elected President, that Democrat, who would probably be Hillary Clinton, wouldn't have the same constraints that President Obama does now Clinton could appoint someone who is 50 years old, and really turn the court in a liberal direction. So that is a risk that the Senate is taking, if they stick with their guns and don't hold hearings," said Zietlow.

Fellow UT Law Professor Lee Strang echoed that sentiment.

"The political pressure on the Senate to at least hold a hearing is significant. Senate Republicans are likely looking for a nominee who's similar to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who has been described as a "staunch conservative'," said Zietlow.

Either way, Strang says the Garland pick would not change the deep lack of diversity on the Supreme Court.

"It's hard to have an institution making such important decisions when everybody in the Supreme Court looks exactly the same," he said. "Garland just contributes to that lack of diversity in a way that maybe another judge or justice might not have."

The 2016 political year also throws a wrench into the justice nomination process.

"In the midst of all this craziness, Justice Garland seems like sort of an island of sanity," said Zietlow.

Nelson added," Politics are really going to play out and Obama's good at this kind of politics. Merrick Garland is a really, really strong nominee."

Garland's nomination could also be a hot topic on the campaign trail and the road to the conventions in the coming months.

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