Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which has primary jurisdiction over FCC-related legal challenges, has been nominated by President Obama to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
Media attorneys could not immediately cite any big FCC-related cases Garland had written. The president noted that as deputy attorney general, Garland supervised "every aspect of the federal response" to the Oklahoma City bombing,
Garland is from Obama's hometown of Chicago and has taught at the president's alma mater, Harvard Law (the judge is a graduate of Harvard as well). He clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan from 1979 to 1981.
Garland joined the D.C. Court in April 1997 and was named chief judge in February 2013. The president said that in his 19 years on the circuit, Garland had brought "diligence, passion and an unwavering regard for the rule of law."
The President also said Garland, putting himself through Harvard, had taken several jobs and had to sell his comic book collection.
"Been there," said the President, with obvious sadness and to general laughter.
Obama also called Garland a passionate defender of the First Amendment.
The president said he did not take his responsibility lightly and said he had sought input from both Republicans and Democrats. He called Garland one of the nation's sharpest legal minds admired on both sides of the aisle.
Notwithstanding, Republicans have said they will not hold hearings on the president's nominee, or any nominee, before the election.
President Obama said he recognized it has been a noisy and volatile political season, but added: "The Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics. It has to be."
Garland will travel to the Hill Thursday to talk with legislators. The president called again for a hearing, and an up-or-down vote.
"I have fulflilled my Constitutional duty," he said. "It is time for the Senate to do theirs."
An emotional Garland called his nomination the highest honor of his life, and said there was no higher public service than a seat on the high court. He also said that as a Supreme Court Justice, he would follow the law, not make it.
He said he knew his mother was watching on television and "crying her eyes out."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.