Obama ‘picks Supreme Court nominee’

Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. CircuitImage copyright

President Barack Obama is to nominate veteran appeals court judge Merrick Garland to be the next US Supreme Court Justice, White House officials say.

The Supreme Court vacancy follows the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month at the age of 79.

Judge Garland, 63, is the chief judge of the Washington appeals court and a former prosecutor.

The Republican majority in the Senate has said it will block a vote on any Supreme Court nominee from Mr Obama.

The death of Scalia, a staunch conservative, left the nine-member Supreme Court evenly divided between conservatives and liberals.

Profile: Who is Merrick Garland?

It also set off a battle in a presidential election year over his successor.

Merrick Garland was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1997, winning confirmation in a 76-23 vote, and served in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration prior to that.

One White House official quoted by Reuters news agency said: “No-one is better suited to immediately serve on the Supreme Court.”

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