President Obama returned to the University of Chicago Law School where he once taught to make the case for his Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama returned on Thursday to the University of Chicago Law School where he once taught to make the case for his U.S. Supreme Court nominee as Senate Republicans harden their opposition to confirming Merrick Garland to the post. The town hall-style event with students and faculty is part of a White House campaign to try to pressure the Republican-led Senate to approve Garland, a centrist appellate judge who grew up in a Chicago suburb. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted the next president, who will take office on Jan. 20 after the Nov. 8 election, should fill the vacancy created by the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Democrats call McConnell's move to block the nomination historic and unprecedented, saying that the Senate Judiciary Committee, since it started holding confirmation hearings a century ago, has never before denied such hearings to any president's Supreme Court selection. McConnell dismissed Obama's Chicago event as political theater. The high court is now split 4-4 between conservatives and liberals. Garland, if confirmed, could tilt the court to the left for the first time in decades. Most Republican senators have backed McConnell's stance. Only two of the 54 Republicans in the 100-seat Senate have said Garland deserves hearings and a vote. Some others have said they will meet with Garland privately for a "courtesy visit." That includes Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who is set to have breakfast with Garland next Tuesday, but only to explain why he will not consider his nomination. The White House wants to take the debate out of Washington. Opinion polls show a majority of Americans believe the Senate should vote on the nomination. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade before he entered politics. The town hall will include judges from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and other local judges, the White House said.