Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he supports President Barack Obama's choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, but that he'd do things differently if elected president.
Asked by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Thursday whether he'd ask the president to withdraw Judge Merrick Garland's nomination during the lame-duck session so that he could make his own pick, Sanders was unequivocal: "Yes, I would."
The Vermont senator said Garland is "probably not the most progressive pick" the president could've made -- a view shared by a number of advocates disappointed by the nomination. That said, Sanders is still "100 percent prepared" to throw his support behind the current choice.
Republican leaders in the Senate have repeatedly said they wouldn't consider any Obama nominee, arguing that the next president should name the next justice instead.
"The idea that the president should not be able to make a nomination is totally absurd. Republican obstructionism just tells us what's been going on for the last seven years," Sanders said. "I will do everything I can to see that there is hearings, that a vote takes place and that Garland becomes seated on the Supreme Court."
Sanders said the judge is "clearly very knowledgeable and can serve ably" on the high court. "But between you and me," he told Maddow, "I think there are some more progressive judges out there."
As he has done a number of times in this presidential cycle, Sanders said that his litmus test for an ideal Supreme Court justice is whether the person is committed to overturning the 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which made it possible for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts in elections.
"I am very worried about the future of American democracy and about the ability of billionaires to buy elections," he said.
Want to learn more about Merrick Garland? Listen to our in-depth discussion on this week's "So, That Happened" podcast. The conversation begins around the 33 minute mark.