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Judge Merrick Garland To Meet Senators

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The battle is on over the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite the Republican pledge not to hold hearings, Garland is expected on Capitol Hill today to meet with senators as nominees traditionally do. Here's NPR's Nina Totenberg.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: The nomination ceremony yesterday was a Hollywood moment, a sun-dappled Rose Garden announcement with flowering trees framing the president and his nominee. At 63, Garland is by far the oldest of the judges Obama considered and by far the most experienced. He's beloved by conservatives and liberals alike on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where he served for 19 years and is now chief judge. At yesterday's ceremony, the usually composed Garland was close to tears from beginning to end.

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MERRICK GARLAND: This is the greatest honor of my life other than Lynn agreeing to marry me 28 years ago.

TOTENBERG: Senate Republicans vowed again to block the nomination at least until after the presidential election. But yesterday, they seemed to adopt a different tone, with some Republican senators, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, saying they would at least meet with the nominee. After all, seven sitting Republican senators voted to confirm Garland in 1997. Here, for instance, is Republican Orrin Hatch, back then as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

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ORRIN HATCH: I know him personally. I know of his integrity. I know of his legal ability. I know of his honesty. I know of his acumen. And he belongs on the court. And I believe that he is not only a fine nominee but as good as Republicans can expect from this administration.

TOTENBERG: Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.