WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama nominated veteran appellate court Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, setting up political showdown with Senate Republicans who have vowed to block any Obama nominee.
Following is a selection of reaction to the decision:
MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER:
"The American people may well elect a President who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy."
CHARLES SCHUMER, DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATOR OF NEW YORK:
"If Merrick Garland can't get bipartisan support no one can. ... We hope the saner heads in the Republican Party will prevail on (U.S. Senator) Chuck Grassley and (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell to do their job and hold hearings so America can make its own judgment as to whether Merrick Garland belongs on the court.”
PAUL RYAN, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER, THE TOP ELECTED U.S. REPUBLICAN:
"This has never been about who the nominee is. It is about a basic principle. Under our Constitution, the president has every right to make this nomination, and the Senate has every right not to confirm a nominee."
ORRIN HATCH, REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR OF UTAH: "Everybody I know who works with him thinks highly of him, but I do think it ought to be put off. This is a toxic environment right now. It's terrible. And I've been through enough of these where I’m sick of the way the court is treated. And this would be just another one."
SUSAN COLLINS, REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR OF MAINE: "Judge Garland is a capable and accomplished jurist. The White House has requested that I meet with him, and I look forward to doing so, as has been my practice with all Supreme Court nominees.”
HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
"Evaluating and confirming a Justice to sit on this nation's highest court should not be an exercise in political brinkmanship and partisan posturing. It is a serious obligation ... That obligation does not depend on the party affiliation of a sitting president, nor does the Constitution make an exception to that duty in an election year."
NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER:
"Judge Garland has the experience and the legal acumen to serve on the highest court in the land. ... The American people expect Judge Merrick Garland to be given a fair hearing and a timely vote."
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:
"When Americans head to the polls in a few short months, they will have a unique opportunity to determine the direction of the court – President Obama is doing a disservice to voters with this attempt to tip the balance of the court with a liberal justice in the eleventh hour of his presidency."
ROB PORTMAN, REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR OF OHIO
"We are in the midst of a highly-charged presidential election that is less than eight months away, and this lifetime appointment could reshape the Supreme Court for generations. I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people and allow them to weigh in on this issue."
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:
“His (Garland's) impeccable credentials, steadfast fidelity to the law and firm devotion to the public interest make him an outstanding choice to sit on our nation's highest court, where I am certain he will serve with integrity and wisdom.”
MARK KIRK, REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR OF ILLINOIS:
"The Senate’s constitutionally defined role to provide advice and consent is as important as the president’s role in proposing a nominee, and I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications."
JOE MANCHIN, DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATOR OF WEST VIRGINIA:
"I look forward to evaluating Merrick Garland’s qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court. Senators have a constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy and, simply put, we have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials.
PAT TOOMEY, REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR OF PENNSYLVANIA:
"Should Merrick Garland be nominated again by the next president, I would be happy to carefully consider his nomination."
DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: "Justice Garland has earned the support of Republicans and Democrats alike since 1997. I urge Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to fulfill their constitutional duties, hold hearings, and quickly bring this nominee up for a vote, the exact same thing called for in 2008 when President Bush nominated judges that were then confirmed by a democratic Senate.”
(Reporting by Washington newsroom; Editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)