Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton implied that if elected, she may not renominate Judge Merrick Garland to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday.
Clinton said in a radio interview that aired Thursday, she would “look broadly and widely for people who represent the diversity of our country,” in evaluating potential nominees to the high court, suggesting she would prefer a more progressive nominee who reflects the diversity of the nation.
Garland, 63, is white, male, and usually placed in the company of moderate, center-left jurists. His rulings have something of a pro-prosecution streak, and are almost always narrowly tailored to the facts at hand. His aversion to sweeping decisions that announce new doctrines or overturn precedent makes him a judge more in the mold of Justice Stephen Breyer and less like Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Sonia Sotomayor.
Observers say Judge Paul Watford of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the more appealing option for those searching for a diverse candidate to anchor an ascendant liberal majority.
Watford was among the final three candidates President Barack Obama considered to succeed Scalia, along with Garland and Judge Sri Srinivasan. He clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is a vocal death penalty opponent and joined the ACLU in filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down S.B. 1070 — a controversial Arizona law that gave law enforcement officers the prerogative to check an individual’s legal status during a routine stop or arrest.
At 48, he would be the youngest member of the bench by nearly a decade. Though an experienced appellate advocate, he has only served on the federal bench since 2012. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton’s SCOTUS Shortlist Is Emerging)
Nonetheless, Clinton also said she would not ask Obama to withdraw Garland’s nomination should she prevail in November, tentatively endorsing his confirmation during a lame duck session after
“I think we should stick with one president at a time,” Clinton said. “I’m going to let this president serve out his term with distinction and make the decisions that he thinks are right for the country.”
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