Bay Area law professors react to Obama's Supreme Court Justice nomination

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President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court Wednesday. He's currently the Chief Justice of the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals who could swing the court to the left again. In a strategic move, the president picked someone who has been supported by the Republicans in the past. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court Wednesday. He's currently the Chief Justice of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals who could swing the court to the left again. In a strategic move, the president picked someone who has been supported by the Republicans in the past.

If the President wanted to make a political statement he could have picked a number of people. He didn't. He selected someone who he thought both sides could agree on. Even so, with what's happening in Washington, Garland may not make it.

At 63, Garland would be one of the most experienced justices on the Supreme Court. He's seen as a moderate, and arguably a consensus decision-maker. Nineteen years ago he was also confirmed by the Republican-led senate 76 to 23 for the D.C. Court of Appeals.

RELATED: 5 things you need to know about U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland

"If Judge Garland is not confirmable, I don't think anyone is," said John Trasvina Trasvina, dean of the law school at the University of San Francisco.

Trasvina worked with him under then Attorney General Janet Reno. He says Garland is not a predictable vote on the court, which doesn't please conservatives or liberals.

"That means to me Justice Garland looks at each individual case and there is no political pattern to his decisions," Trasvina said.

RELATED: Politicians, notable figures react to SCOTUS nomination

That may not matter. Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday affirmed the vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.

"There hasn't been a vacancy created in a presidential election year filled in 80 years, so this vacancy will not be filled," McConnell said.

But professor Rory Little who worked closely with Garland says that can backfire if democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton wins. While unlikely, Clinton could end up picking a very liberal justice.

"If you're a Republican you want to confirm this guy before you get to see what Hillary is going to do," Little said.

It's up to the Senate Judiciary Committee to call for hearings. On that committee is Republican Senator Orin Hatch, who happens to like Garland.

"So, if a majority of senators on the judiciary committee say we want to have a hearing, then they'll have a hearing," Little said.

Both sides agree. Despite his qualifications, Garland faces one of the toughest battles as a nominee.

Get the latest stories about the Supreme Court here.

Related Topics:
politicssupreme courtu.s. supreme courtbarack obamapresident barack obamarepublicansdemocrats2016 electionu.s. & worldWashington DC
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