Obama on Merrick Garland: ‘Yeah, He’s a White Guy’ But He’s an Outstanding Jurist

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President Obama defended his pick of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court on Thursday, acknowledging he was a "white guy" but adding that he was an "outstanding jurist."

Obama defended the diversity of his federal appointments during a conversation in Chicago, Illinois, about nominating Garland. However, Senate Republicans have largely been steadfast in saying they will not hold hearings for him, since it's an election year.

Obama contended he had appointed more African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and LGBT judges than any president before. He quipped he never felt he needed a "black lesbian from Skokie," saying that was never his approach to appoint judges for the sake of diversity.

"It turns out that if the process is fair and you are saying that it's important that our courts are reflective of a changing society, you'll end up with a really good cross-section of people who are excellent and that's who we've been able to appoint," Obama said. "And so when I look at Merrick Garland, that was the person that, you know, the difference between the Supreme Court is just a handful of seats come up at any given time now.

"I appointed a Latino woman, another woman right before that. So, you know, yeah, he's a white guy, but he's a really outstanding jurist. Sorry."

Obama appointed Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court earlier in his administration. Obama tapped Garland as his latest pick after the death of Antonin Scalia in February. The announcement has set up a tense fight on Capitol Hill, with Republicans and Democrats accusing one another of inconsistency and hypocrisy based on which party's president is making an appointment.