Obama to push Supreme Court nominee at University of Chicago

President Barack Obama heads to law school next week to push his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Obama adviser Brian Deese said Friday that Obama will return Thursday to the University of Chicago Law School to argue for Senate consideration of the appeals judge's nomination. Obama taught constitutional law at the university for several years before he entered politics. It's also the political backyard of endangered Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk, who met with Garland this week.

The White House and the Senate are in a standoff over how to proceed on Garland, Obama's choice to succeed the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

Republican senators insist they will hold no hearings or a confirmation vote on the nomination in a presidential election year, though some GOP lawmakers have expressed a willingness to at least meet with Garland. Republicans say the next president should get to choose the next justice. Obama insists the Senate has a constitutional responsibility and plenty of time to consider Garland.

Democrats claim they have gained momentum and turned the heat up on Republicans during the past two weeks of Senate recess. Opinion polls show that the public supports hearings on Garland's nomination and senators like Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa have been confronted on the topic by their constituents.

"We are making steady but significant progress," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on a media call organized by liberal activists. "Hopefully Judge Garland will turn into Justice Garland in the coming months."

Garland has met with mostly Democratic senators on Capitol Hill. Next week, Garland will meet with two other Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine and John Boozman of Arkansas. He's also set to meet with a full roster of Democrats such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Dianne Feinstein of California and Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Schumer noted that pro-Republican groups have been running ads attacking Garland as a liberal.

"If they want to debate his record or qualifications to be a justice, that's great," Schumer said. "Let's do it in a hearing."

After the stop in his Chicago hometown, Obama will continue to Los Angeles for a fundraiser Thursday night. Obama also plans to headline fundraisers Friday in Los Angeles and San Francisco before he returns to Washington on Saturday, the White House said.

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