WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16:  Judge Merrick B. Garland listens to US President Barack Obama nominate him to the US Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Garland currently serves as the chief judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and if confirmed by the US Senate, would replace Antonin Scalia who died suddenly last month.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
How GOP senators felt about Merrick Garland in 1997
01:29 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court Wednesday morning

There is a long paper trail of Republicans who have praised Garland in the past

Senate GOP leaders have vowed not to consider Obama's pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia

Washington CNN  — 

While some Republicans say they don’t want the Senate to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, a few prominent GOP voices have said some nice things about him in the past.

The chief judge for the Washington, D.C. appeals court was confirmed in 1997 by 76-23 after being appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

RELATED: Who is Merrick Garland?

At least seven of the Republican senators who confirmed Garland are still in office, including Sens. Dan Coats, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, Jim Inhofe, John McCain and Pat Roberts.

Hatch has perhaps offered the most visible praise for Garland among those senators. But he released a statement Wednesday saying he still believes candidates should wait for the next president to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I think highly of Judge Garland. But his nomination doesn’t in any way change current circumstances,” he said. “I remain convinced that the best way for the Senate to do its job is to conduct the confirmation process after this toxic presidential election season is over.”

Earlier this week, the Utah Republican suggested Obama nominate Garland.

“(Obama) could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man,” Hatch said in Newsmax, adding later, “He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad wrote a letter to a fellow Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, in 1997 to say that Garland had “a distinguished legal career.”

“I am writing to ask your support and assistance in the confirmation process for a second cousin … Merrick Garland has had a distinguished legal career,” he wrote, according to the Congressional Record.

During his own confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, praised Garland’s judgment.

“Any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area,” Roberts said in 2005. “And the function of his dissent, to make us focus on what we were deciding and to make sure that we felt we were doing the right thing, I think was well-served. But Judge Garland disagreed, and so it’s obviously, to me, a case on which reasonable judges can disagree.”

Garland is “an intelligent, experienced and even-handed individual,” according to former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a Republican who found Garland’s work on the Oklahoma City bombing case particularly notable and inspiring.

“Last April, in Oklahoma City, Merrick was at the helm of the Justice Department’s investigation following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the bloodiest and most tragic act of terrorism on American soil,” Keating wrote to then-Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole in 1996, according to the Congressional Record. “During the investigation, Merrick distinguished himself in a situation where he had to lead a highly complicated investigation and make quick decisions during critical times. Merrick Garland is an intelligent, experienced and evenhanded individual.”