WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would support President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, though he would not have picked Garland himself.
Sanders, who has mounted a liberal challenge to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, said Garland was "knowledgable" and would serve "ably" on the high court, but he would have preferred a more liberal choice than Garland, who is largely considered a moderate.
"I think there are some more progressive judges out there," Sanders said.
Republicans in the Senate have thus far refused to consider Garland to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the longtime leader among the court's conservative bloc. Garland would immediately occupy the court's swing seat.
Sanders, speaking to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, said if he becomes president and the Senate still has not confirmed Garland, he would ask Obama to withdraw Garland's name during the lame duck session so he could make his own pick after being sworn into office.
And in making that decision, Sanders said he would be clear his nominee would vote to overturn the conservative Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates of wealthy donors to be spend nearly any amount they wish to help influence elections.
"I do have a litmus test for a Supreme Court justice. ... That justice must be loud and clear in telling us he or she would vote to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision."