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President Barack Obama said Wednesday he would nominate appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, challenging Republicans to reject a long-time jurist and former prosecutor known he called "one of America's sharpest legal minds."

Arguing that Barack Obama should have selected a person of color to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, NewsOne legal analyst Damario Solomon-Simmons expressed disappointment with the president’s Supreme Court pick.

Obama on Wednesday announced the nomination of federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. He currently serves as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Indeed, Garland’s biography matches the narrative of most successful people. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University, where he won a scholarship. He also graduated from Harvard Law School, where he paid his way by taking a summer job as a shoe store stock clerk, selling his comic book collection and counseling undergraduates, according to the White House.


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The Chicago, Illinois-native was raised by a mother who served as a community volunteer and a father who ran a small business out of the family home. His grandparents immigrated to the United States to escape anti-Semitism, paving the way for a better life.

His boot strapper story is easy to cheer for. But at a time when African-Americans are under siege by police, prosecutors, and the criminal justice system overall, many were hopeful that the president would choose a person of color to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who spent much of his time on the bench pushing back advances made during the Civil Rights Movement.

While understanding the choice was politically expedient for the president after threats from Republicans to block his nomination, Solomon-Simmons weighs in on Obama’s choice:

NewOne: Are you surprised by the president’s choice?

Damario Solomon-Simmons: No, I’m not surprised because I believe this nomination is right in line with President Obama‘s presidency and personality.

Despite the inflammatory and bogus claims of the Republican propaganda machine, President Obama has proven himself to be a moderate, if not conservative Democrat, and someone who seeks to find compromise and consensus in pretty much everything that he does. 

So, any rational review of Judge Merrick Garland’s life and record clearly shows that he fits this narrative for President Obama. Also, we should not discount the impact President Obama and Judge Garland sharing hometowns (Chicago) and law schools (Harvard) had in the selection process.

He also happens to be supremely qualified for the job, which is why he is such a safe pick for the president. Judge Garland currently serves as the Chief Judge of the Washington D.C. appeals court, where he has been a judge for almost 20 years. Before that, Judge Garland was a very successful federal prosecutor and during his tenure, oversaw the prosecution of some of the most historical and famous cases in United States history, including the Unabomber case and Oklahoma City bombing. Also, Judge Garland clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan.

It’s clear that the president is hoping that Republicans will not block the nomination based on the weight of the judge’s credentials.

NO: What do you think about the nomination?

DSS: Honestly, I’m disappointed in the selection of Judge Garland. Not because he is not immensely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, but because, as I wrote a few weeks ago, I thought this provided President Obama with the perfect opportunity to nominate and aggressively fight for someone who would simultaneously: A. Make history, B. Diversify the court, C. Fire up the Democratic base, and D. Reward his most ardent supporters, African-Americans, for their support by nominating the first-ever Black woman to the Court.

NO: How do you believe this nomination impacts the Presidential race?

DSS: Unfortunately for the African-American community, I think this nomination will provide strong passion and motivation to the Republican base and drive them to focus more on keeping the Senate and capturing the presidency.

Literally minutes after the death of Justice Scalia, the Republican-controlled Senate vowed to not consider whomever President Obama nominated. Republicans have held steadfast to that position ever since, and their presidential candidates and conservative talk radio hosts and pundits have used this nomination to keep the Republican base “fired up and ready to go” vote.

Further, Republicans will use this nomination to push their patently false and ridiculous narrative that President Obama’s discharge of his constitutional obligation to nominate someone as further proof that his presidency is rogue and dictatorial.

This false narrative will also be used to increase their voter turnout. Yet, it is hard to imagine that the Democratic coalition (women, African-Americans, Latinos, Millennials) that Democratic candidates need to win in November, will be very passionate and fired up by the nomination of a 63-year-old, Ivy-League educated, White male moderate.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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