Obama picks white judge as apex court nominee

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Washington, March 16 (IANS) US President Barack Obama chose a white judge over Indian American Sri Srinivasan as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, setting up a dramatic political fight with Senate Republicans who have vowed to block his choice.

Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, 63, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is much older than Chandigarh-born Srinivasan and other contenders on his short list such as judges Srinivasan, Paul Watford and Jane Kelly.

After conducting interviews last week, Obama is reported to have narrowed his list to include Srinivasan, Garland and Watford, each of them considered “consensus” candidates for their history in gaining confirmation support from Republicans.

But Senate Republicans do not plan to vet or have hearings on the nominee, and say the next president should be able to choose a replacement for justice Anton Scalia who died last month.

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Obama and Democrats argue that with 10 months left in his term, there is plenty of time for the Senate to take up and confirm a new justice.

Garland’s supporters argue he is the nominee that the senators couldn’t refuse even in a contentious environment, according to CNN. “He’s the establishment of the establishment,” one backer was quoted as saying.

Obama formally unveiled his pick in the White House Rose Garden hours after telling his supporters in an email on Wednesday.

“I’ve devoted a considerable amount of time and deliberation to this decision,” Obama wrote.

“I’ve consulted with legal experts and people across the political spectrum, both inside and outside government. And we’ve reached out to every member of the Senate, who each have a responsibility to do their job and take this nomination just as seriously.”

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(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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