On Wednesday, President Obama ended weeks of speculation by naming federal appeals judge Merrick Garland as his pick to succeed recently deceased Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Picking Garland, a 63-year-old judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, sets up a showdown with Senate Republicans who overwhelmingly have said they will not consider any pick by Obama at this late stage in his presidency.
Garland is considered a centrist, and at his age, would not be the type of pick that would fundamentally transform the court for a generation. By making this kind of consensus pick, Obama hopes to put Republicans on the defensive politically.
Despite the nature of the Garland pick, Republicans reacted quickly, doubling down on their pledge to not hold hearings or give an up or down vote to any new nominee until a new president is sworn in next year.
While President Obama called for the Senate to at least, "give him a fair hearing and up or down vote," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would not act and that by not acting they were exercising their constitutional right to withhold consent.
Garland, the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has been on short lists before.
Garland was originally an appointee of President Bill Clinton and is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. As a Justice Department lawyer, he supervised investigations in the Unabomber case as well as the Oklahoma City bombing.
At the announcement, Garland called Obama's decision to nominate him "the greatest honor of my life."
"For me, their could be no higher public service than serving as a member of the Supreme Court," Garland said.