WASHINGTON – Merrick Garland, the administration’s choice to take the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, is expected to remain the White House’s nominee in the lame duck session after November’s election, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.
“The president is certainly committed to his candidacy,” Earnest said during Friday’s briefing. “I have seen no evidence that Chief Judge Garland is somehow going to withdraw his name from the process.”
Senate Republicans have declined to submit Garland through the Supreme Court confirmation process on the grounds that since President Barack Obama is at the end of his term, the next president should fill the current vacancy in order to give a greater voice to the American people.
The lawmakers’ reasoning is not grounded in the Constitution or history, but has nevertheless stalled Garland from advancing since he was tapped by Obama 219 days ago.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told POLITICO Thursday that he will advise his colleagues in the upper chamber to hold hearings for Garland out of concern that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton could put forward a morel liberal nominee if elected.
Flake’s comments have launched speculation that the administration could withdraw Garland’s nomination or that he could step down in order to clear a path for a future Clinton administration, a prospect that Earnest said Friday is “not likely to happen.”