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REMARKSBYTHEPRESIDENT

ANNOUNCINGJUDGEMERRICKGARLAND

ASHISNOMINEETOTHESUPREMECOURT

RoseGarden

11:04A.M.EDT

THEPRESIDENT: Goodmorning. Everybody,pleasehaveaseat.

OfthemanypowersandresponsibilitiesthattheConstitutionvestsinthepresidency,fewaremoreconsequential

thanappointingaSupremeCourtjustice­­particularlyonetosucceedJusticeScalia,oneofthemostinfluential

juristsofourtime.

ThemenandwomenwhositontheSupremeCourtarethefinalarbitersofAmericanlaw. Theysafeguardour rights. Theyensurethatoursystemisoneoflawsandnotmen. They’rechargedwiththeessentialtaskofapplying principlesputtopapermorethantwocenturiesagotosomeofthemostchallengingquestionsofourtime.

SothisisnotaresponsibilitythatItakelightly. It’sadecisionthatrequiresmetosetasideshort­termexpediency andnarrowpolitics,soastomaintainfaithwithourfoundersand,perhapsmoreimportantly,withfuture generations. That’swhy,overthepastseveralweeks,I’vedonemybesttosetuparigorousandcomprehensive process. I’vesoughttheadviceofRepublicanandDemocraticmembersofCongress. We’vereachedouttoevery memberoftheSenateJudiciaryCommittee,toconstitutionalscholars,toadvocacygroups,tobarassociations, representinganarrayofinterestsandopinionsfromallacrossthespectrum.

Andtoday,aftercompletingthisexhaustiveprocess,I’vemademydecision. I’veselectedanomineewhoiswidely recognizednotonlyasoneofAmerica’ssharpestlegalminds,butsomeonewhobringstohisworkaspiritof decency,modesty,integrity,even­handedness,andexcellence. Thesequalities,andhislongcommitmenttopublic service,haveearnedhimtherespectandadmirationofleadersfrombothsidesoftheaisle. Hewillultimatelybring thatsamecharactertobearontheSupremeCourt,aninstitutioninwhichheisuniquelypreparedtoserve immediately.

Today,IamnominatingChiefJudgeMerrickBrianGarlandtojointheSupremeCourt. (Applause.)

Now,inlawenforcementcircles,andtheinthelegalcommunityatlarge,JudgeGarlandneedsnointroduction. But I’dliketotakeaminutetointroduceMerricktotheAmericanpeople,whomhealreadysoablyserves.

HewasbornandraisedintheLandofLincoln­­inmyhometownofChicago,inmyhomestateofIllinois. His mothervolunteeredinthecommunity;hisfatherranasmallbusinessoutoftheirhome. Inheritingthatworkethic, Merrickbecamevaledictorianofhispublichighschool. HeearnedascholarshiptoHarvard,wherehegraduated summacumlaude. AndheputhimselfthroughHarvardLawSchoolbyworkingasatutor,bystockingshoesina shoestore,and,inwhatisalwaysapainfulmomentforanyyoungman,bysellinghiscomicbookcollection. (Laughter.) It'stough. Beenthere. (Laughter.)

MerrickgraduatedmagnacumlaudefromHarvardLaw,andtheearlyyearsofhislegalcareerbearallthe traditionalmarksofexcellence. HeclerkedfortwoofPresidentEisenhower’sjudicialappointees­­firstfora legendaryjudgeontheSecondCircuit,JudgeHenryFriendly,andthenforSupremeCourtJusticeWilliamBrennan.

Followinghisclerkships,Merrickjoinedahighlyregardedlawfirm,withapracticefocusedonlitigationandpro bonorepresentationofdisadvantagedAmericans. Withinfouryears,heearnedapartnership­­thedreamofmost lawyers.Butin1989,justmonthsafterthatachievement,Merrickmadeahighlyunusualcareerdecision. He walkedawayfromacomfortableandlucrativelawpracticetoreturntopublicservice.

Merrickacceptedalow­leveljobasafederalprosecutorinPresidentGeorgeH.W.Bush’sadministration. Hetooka

50­percentpaycut,tradedinhiselegantpartner’sofficeforawindowlessclosetthatsmelledofstalecigarette

smoke. ThiswasatimewhencrimehereinWashingtonhadreachedepidemicproportions,andhewantedtohelp. Andhequicklymadeanameforhimself,goingaftercorruptpoliticiansandviolentcriminals.

HissterlingrecordasaprosecutorledhimtotheJusticeDepartment,whereheoversawsomeofthemostsignificant

prosecutionsinthe1990s­­includingoverseeingeveryaspectofthefederalresponsetotheOklahomaCity

bombing. Intheaftermathofthatactofterror,when168people,manyofthemsmallchildren,weremurdered, MerrickhadoneeveningtosaygoodbyetohisownyoungdaughtersbeforeheboardedaplanetoOklahomaCity. Andhewouldremainthereforweeks. Heworkedside­by­sidewithfirstresponders,rescueworkers,localand federallawenforcement. HeledtheinvestigationandsupervisedtheprosecutionthatbroughtTimothyMcVeighto justice.

Butperhapsmostimportantisthewayhedidit. Throughouttheprocess,Merricktookpainstodoeverythingbythe book. Whenpeopleofferedtoturnoverevidencevoluntarily,herefused,takingtheharderrouteofobtainingthe propersubpoenasinstead,becauseMerrickwouldtakenochancesthatsomeonewhomurderedinnocentAmericans mightgofreeonatechnicality.

Merrickalsomadeaconcertedefforttoreachouttothevictimsandtheirfamilies,updatingthemfrequentlyonthe case’sprogress. Everywherehewent,hecarriedwithhiminhisbriefcasetheprogramfromthememorialservice witheachofthevictims’namesinside–­aconstant,searingreminderofwhyhehadtosucceed.

JudgeGarlandhasoftenreferredtohisworkontheOklahomaCitycaseas,andIquote,“themostimportantthingI haveeverdoneinmylife.” Andthroughitall,heneverlosttouchwiththatcommunitythatheserved.

It’snosurprisethen,thatsoonafterhisworkinOklahomaCity,Merrickwasnominatedtowhat’softencalledthe secondhighestcourtintheland­­theD.C.CircuitCourt. Duringthatprocess,duringthatconfirmationprocess,he earnedoverwhelmingbipartisanpraisefromsenatorsandlegalexpertsalike. RepublicanSenatorOrrinHatch,who wasthenchairmanoftheSenateJudiciaryCommittee,supportedhisnomination. Backthen,hesaid,“Inall honesty,IwouldliketoseeonepersoncometothisfloorandsayonereasonwhyMerrickGarlanddoesnotdeserve thisposition.” HeactuallyaccusedfellowSenateRepublicanstryingtoobstructMerrick’sconfirmationof“playing politicswithjudges.” AndhehassincesaidthatJudgeGarlandwouldbea“consensusnominee”fortheSupreme Courtwho“wouldbeverywellsupportedbyallsides,”andtherewouldbe“noquestion”Merrickwouldbe confirmedwithbipartisansupport.

Ultimately,MerrickwasconfirmedtotheD.C.Circuit,thesecondhighestcourtintheland,withvotesfroma majorityofDemocratsandamajorityofRepublicans. Threeyearsago,hewaselevatedtoChiefJudge. Andinhis

19yearsontheD.C.Circuit,JudgeGarlandhasbroughthistrademarkdiligence,compassion,andunwavering

regardfortheruleoflawtohiswork.

Onacircuitcourtknownforstrong­mindedjudgesonbothendsofthespectrum,JudgeGarlandhasearnedatrack recordofbuildingconsensusasathoughtful,fair­mindedjudgewhofollowsthelaw. He’sshownarareabilityto

bringtogetheroddcouples,assembleunlikelycoalitions,persuadecolleagueswithwide­rangingjudicial

philosophiestosignontohisopinions.

Andthisrecordonthebenchspeaks,Ibelieve,toJudgeGarland’sfundamentaltemperament­­hisinsistencethatall viewsdeservearespectfulhearing. Hishabit,toborrowaphrasefromformerJusticeJohnPaulStevens,“of understandingbeforedisagreeing,”andthendisagreeingwithoutbeingdisagreeable. Itspeakstohisabilityto persuade,torespondtotheconcernsofotherswithsoundargumentsandairtightlogic. Ashisformercolleagueon theD.C.Circuit,andourcurrentChiefJusticeoftheSupremeCourt,JohnRoberts,oncesaid,“AnytimeJudge Garlanddisagrees,youknowyou’reinadifficultarea.”

Atthesametime,ChiefJudgeGarlandismorethanjustabrilliantlegalmind. He’ssomeonewhohasakeen understandingthatjusticeisaboutmorethanabstractlegaltheory;morethansomefootnoteinadustycasebook. Hislifeexperience–­hisexperienceinplaceslikeOklahomaCity–­informshisviewthatthelawismorethanan intellectualexercise. Heunderstandsthewaylawaffectsthedailyrealityofpeople’slivesinabig,complicated democracy,andinrapidly­changingtimes. Andthroughouthisjurisprudencerunsacommonthread­–adedication toprotectingthebasicrightsofeveryAmerican;aconvictionthatinademocracy,powerfulvoicesmustnotbe allowedtodrownoutthevoicesofeverydayAmericans.

Tofindsomeonewithsuchalongcareerofpublicservice,markedbycomplexandsensitiveissues;tofindsomeone whojustabouteveryonenotonlyrespects,butgenuinelylikes–­thatisrare. AnditspeakstowhoMerrickGarland is­­notjustasalawyer,butasaman.

Peoplerespectthewayhetreatsothers­­hisgenuinecourtesyandrespectforhiscolleaguesandthosewhocome beforehiscourt. Theyadmirehiscivic­mindedness­­mentoringhisclerksthroughouttheircareers,urgingthemto usetheirlegaltrainingtoservetheircommunities,settinghisownexamplebytutoringayoungstudentata NortheastD.C.elementaryschooleachyearforthepast18years. They’removedbyhisdeepdevotiontohisfamily ­­Lynn,hiswifeofnearly30years,andtheirtwodaughters,BeckyandJessie. Asafamily,theyindulgetheirlove ofhikingandskiingandcanoeing,andtheirloveofAmericabyvisitingournationalparks.

PeoplerespectMerrick’sdeepandabidingpassionforprotectingourmostbasicconstitutionalrights. It’sapassion, I’mtold,thatmanifesteditselfatanearlyage. Andonestoryisindicativeofthis,isnotable. Asvaledictorianofhis highschoolclass,hehadtodeliveracommencementaddress. Theotherstudentspeakerthatdayspokefirstand unleashedafierycritiqueoftheVietnamWar. Fearingthecontroversythatmightresult,severalparentsdecidedto unplugthesoundsystem,andtherestofthestudent’sspeechwasmuffled.

AndMerrickdidn’tnecessarilyagreewiththetoneofhisclassmate’sremarks,norhischoiceoftopicforthatday.

Butstirredbythesightofafellowstudent’svoicebeingsilenced,hetossedasidehispreparedremarksand

deliveredinstead,onthespot,apassionate,impromptudefenseofourFirstAmendmentrights.

Itwasthebeginningofalifelongcareer­­asalawyer,andaprosecutor,andasajudge­­devotedtoprotectingthe rightsofothers. Andhehasdonethatworkwithdecencyandhumanityandcommonsense,andacommontouch. AndI’mproudthathe’llcontinuethatworkonournation’shighestcourt.

IsaidIwouldtakethisprocessseriously­­andIdid. Ichoseaseriousmanandanexemplaryjudge,Merrick Garland. OvermysevenyearsasPresident,inallmyconversationswithsenatorsfrombothpartiesinwhichIasked theirviewsonqualifiedSupremeCourtnominees­­thisincludestheprevioustwoseatsthatIhadtofill­­theone namethathascomeuprepeatedly,fromRepublicansandDemocratsalike,isMerrickGarland.

Now,Irecognizethatwehaveenteredthepoliticalseason ­­orperhaps,thesedaysitneverends­­apolitical seasonthatisevennoisierandmorevolatilethanusual. IknowthatRepublicanswillpointtoDemocratswho’ve madeithardforRepublicanPresidentstogettheirnomineesconfirmed. Andthey’renotwrongaboutthat. There’s beenpoliticsinvolvedinnominationsinthepast. Althoughitshouldbepointedoutthat,ineachofthoseinstances, DemocratsultimatelyconfirmedanomineeputforwardbyaRepublicanPresident.

IalsoknowthatbecauseofJusticeScalia’soutsizedroleontheCourtandinAmericanlaw,andthefactthat AmericansarecloselydividedonanumberofissuesbeforetheCourt,itistemptingtomakethisconfirmation processsimplyanextensionofourdividedpolitics­­thesquabblingthat’sgoingoninthenewseveryday. Butto godownthatpathwouldbewrong. Itwouldbeabetrayalofourbesttraditions,andabetrayalofthevisionofour foundingdocuments.

Atatimewhenourpoliticsaresopolarized,atatimewhennormsandcustomsofpoliticalrhetoricandcourtesy andcomityaresooftentreatedlikethey’redisposable­­thisispreciselythetimewhenweshouldplayitstraight, andtreattheprocessofappointingaSupremeCourtjusticewiththeseriousnessandcareitdeserves. Becauseour SupremeCourtreallyisunique. It’ssupposedtobeabovepolitics. Ithastobe. Anditshouldstaythatway.

TosuggestthatsomeoneasqualifiedandrespectedasMerrickGarlanddoesn’tevendeserveahearing,letalonean

upordownvote,tojoinaninstitutionasimportantasourSupremeCourt,whentwo­thirdsofAmericansbelieve

otherwise­­thatwouldbeunprecedented.

Tosuggestthatsomeonewhohasservedhiscountrywithhonoranddignity,withadistinguishedtrackrecordof

deliveringjusticefortheAmericanpeople,mightbetreated,asoneRepublicanleaderstated,asapolitical“piñata”

­­thatcan’tberight.

Tomorrow,JudgeGarlandwilltraveltotheHilltobeginmeetingwithsenators,one­on­one. Isimplyask RepublicansintheSenatetogivehimafairhearing,andthenanupordownvote. Ifyoudon’t,thenitwillnotonly beanabdicationoftheSenate’sconstitutionalduty,itwillindicateaprocessfornominatingandconfirmingjudges thatisbeyondrepair. Itwillmeaneverythingissubjecttothemostpartisanofpolitics­­everything. Itwill provokeanendlesscycleofmoretit­for­tat,andmakeitincreasinglyimpossibleforanyPresident,Democrator Republican,tocarryouttheirconstitutionalfunction. ThereputationoftheSupremeCourtwillinevitablysuffer. Faithinourjusticesystemwillinevitablysuffer. Ourdemocracywillultimatelysuffer,aswell.

Ihavefulfilledmyconstitutionalduty. Nowit’stimefortheSenatetodotheirs. Presidentsdonotstopworkingin thefinalyearoftheirterm. Neithershouldasenator.

IknowthattomorrowtheSenatewilltakeabreakandleavetownonrecessfortwoweeks. Myearnesthopeisthat senatorstakethattimetoreflectontheimportanceofthisprocesstoourdemocracy­­notwhat’sexpedient,not what’shappeningatthemoment,whatdoesthismeanforourinstitutions,forourcommonlife­­thestakes,the consequences,theseriousnessofthejobweallsworeanoathtodo.

Andwhentheyreturn,Ihopethatthey’llactinabipartisanfashion. Ihopethey’refair. That’sall. Ihopetheyare fair. AstheydidwhentheyconfirmedMerrickGarlandtotheD.C.Circuit,IaskthattheyconfirmMerrickGarland nowtotheSupremeCourt,sothathecantakehisseatintimetofullyparticipateinitsworkfortheAmerican peoplethisfall.Heistherightmanforthejob. Hedeservestobeconfirmed. Icouldnotbeprouderofthework thathehasalreadydoneonbehalfoftheAmericanpeople. Hedeservesourthanksandhedeservesafairhearing.

Andwiththat,I’dliketoinviteJudgeGarlandtosayafewwords. (Applause.)

JUDGEGARLAND: Thankyou,Mr.President. Thisisthegreatesthonorofmylife­­otherthanLynnagreeingto marryme28yearsago. It’salsothegreatestgiftI’veeverreceivedexcept­­andthere’sanothercaveat­­thebirth ofourdaughters,JessieandBecky.

Asmyparentstaughtmebybothwordsanddeeds,alifeofpublicserviceisasmuchagifttotheperson whoservesasitistothoseheisserving. Andforme,therecouldbenohigherpublicservicethanservingasa memberoftheUnitedStatesSupremeCourt.

Myfamilydeservesmuchofthecreditforthepaththatledmehere. MygrandparentsleftthePaleof

SettlementattheborderofWesternRussianandEasternEuropeintheearly1900s,fleeinganti­Semitism,and

hopingtomakeabetterlifefortheirchildreninAmerica. TheysettledintheMidwest,eventuallymakingtheirway toChicago.

There,myfather,whoranthesmallestofsmallbusinessesfromaroominourbasement,tookmewithhimashe madetheroundstohiscustomers,alwaysimpressinguponmetheimportanceofhardworkandfairdealing. There, mymotherheadedthelocalPTAandschoolboardanddirectedavolunteerservicesagency,allthewhileinstilling inmysisterandmetheunderstandingthatservicetothecommunityisaresponsibilityaboveallothers. Evennow, mysistershonorthatexamplebyservingthechildrenoftheircommunities.

Iknowthatmymotheriswatchingthisontelevisionandcryinghereyesout. (Laughter.) Soaremy sisters,whohavesupportedmeineverystepIhaveevertaken. Ionlywishthatmyfatherwereheretoseethis today. Ialsowishthatwehadn’ttaughtmyolderdaughtertobesoadventurousthatshewouldbehikinginthe mountains,outofcellservicerange­­(laughter)­­whenthePresidentcalled. (Laughter.)

Itwasthesenseofresponsibilitytoserveacommunity,instilledbymyparents,thatledmetoleavemylaw firmtobecomealineprosecutorin1989. There,oneofmyfirstassignmentswastoassistintheprosecutionofa violentgangthathadcomedowntotheDistrictfromNewYork,tookoverapublichousingprojectandterrorized theresidents. Thehardestjobwefacedwaspersuadingmothersandgrandmothersthatiftheytestified,wewould beabletokeepthemsafeandconvictthegangmembers. Wesucceededonlybyconvincingwitnessesandvictims thattheycouldtrustthattheruleoflawwouldprevail.

Yearslater,whenIwenttoOklahomaCitytoinvestigatethebombingoftheFederalBuilding,Isawup closethedevastationthatcanhappenwhensomeoneabandonsthejusticesystemasawayofresolvinggrievances, andinsteadtakesmattersintohisownhands. Onceagain,Isawtheimportanceofassuringvictimsandfamiliesthat thejusticesystemcouldwork. Wepromisedthatwewouldfindtheperpetrators,thatwewouldbringthemto justice,andthatwewoulddoitinawaythathonoredtheConstitution. ThepeopleofOklahomaCitygaveustheir trust,andwedideverythingwecouldtoliveuptoit.

Trustthatjusticewillbedoneinourcourtswithoutprejudiceorpartisanshipiswhat,inalargepart,distinguishes thiscountryfromothers. Peoplemustbeconfidentthatajudge’sdecisionsaredeterminedbythelaw,andonlythe law. Forajudgetobeworthyofsuchtrust,heorshemustbefaithfultotheConstitutionandtothestatutespassed bytheCongress. Heorshemustputasidehispersonalviewsorpreferences,andfollowthelaw­­notmakeit.

FidelitytotheConstitutionandthelawhasbeenthecornerstoneofmyprofessionallife,andit’sthe hallmarkofthekindofjudgeIhavetriedtobeforthepast18years. IftheSenateseesfittoconfirmmetothe positionforwhichIhavebeennominatedtoday,Ipromisetocontinueonthatcourse.

Mr.President,it’sagreatprivilegetobenominatedbyafellowChicagoan. Iamgratefulbeyondwordsfor thehonoryouhavebestoweduponme. (Applause.)

END