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Obama To Push For Merrick Garland At Scalia's Old Chicago Stomping Ground

By Sam Cholke | April 1, 2016 10:44am | Updated on April 4, 2016 8:33am
 Barack Obama is coming to U. of C. Thursday to push for Merrick Garland's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Barack Obama is coming to U. of C. Thursday to push for Merrick Garland's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Getty/Mark Wilson

HYDE PARK — President Barack Obama will return to the University of Chicago on Thursday to make his case for Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The president will hold a town hall-style forum with faculty and law students at the university for a conversation about the U.S. Supreme Court and our country’s judicial system, according to White House officials.

RELATED: Who is Merrick Garland? Meet the Chicago Native Tapped for Supreme Court

“As part of this discussion, the president will continue to make the case for why Judge Garland — and the American people — deserve for the U.S. Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility and give this eminently qualified nominee a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote” White House officials said.

Reporter Sam Cholke talks about how Chicago brings Obama, Scalia & Garland together.

The university uniquely connects Obama, Garland and Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February creating a vacancy on the court, as the president tries to bring in academia, the public and the law community into his push for confirmation hearings for Garland, which Republicans have said should be delayed until after the presidential election.

Obama and Scalia both taught law at the university, but their paths never overlapped during their time in Hyde Park.

RELATED: Obama, Merrick Garland and Their Shared Comic Book Fascination

Scalia taught at the university from 1977 until his appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. While at the university he was the first faculty adviser for the newly founded Federalist Society U. of C. chapter.

Obama taught in the Law School from 1992-2004, but Scalia rarely made trips back to the university, particularly after a disagreement in 2007 with professor Goeffrey Stone, when he vowed never to return to the university while Stone continued to teach there.

Scalia did return in 2012 to argue for the originalism interpretation of the Constitution he is best known for.

Garland has his own ties to Chicago, but few to the university. He was born in Chicago, but spent much of his youth in Niles, where he graduated from high school in 1970 before leaving for Harvard for his undergraduate and law studies.

Much of the neighborhood is still waiting for Obama to decide between two sites close to the university in Jackson and Washington parks for his presidential library.

It seems unlikely the president will spend much time inspecting either site, as he is scheduled to attend a fundraiser in San Francisco on Thursday afternoon.