Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is Jewish. Here’s how Jews are reacting.

Gabe Friedman

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as the nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland being introduced by President Barack Obama as the nominee for the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2016. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Jews make up just over 2 percent of the American population. They’re a bit overrepresented on the Supreme Court.

If Merrick Garland — announced Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s choice to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat — is confirmed, a record four of the nine Supreme Court justices would be Jewish. Garland would join Jews Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan on the court.

In a short, emotional speech after Obama announced his nomination in the White House Rose Garden, Garland referenced his Jewish background, saying his grandparents fled to the U.S. from anti-Semitism in Russia.

“My family deserves much of the credit for the path that led me here. My grandparents left the Pale of Settlement at the border of western Russia and Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, fleeing anti-Semitism and hoping to make a better life for their children in America,” he said, choking up.

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The Reform movement reacted swiftly to Obama’s announcement without taking a side on Garland’s appointment or commenting on his Jewishness. The movement’s Religious Action Center urged Republican lawmakers to fairly consider Garland’s credentials.

“Now that a nominee has been named, we call on Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Grassley to step back from the misguided position they have articulated in recent weeks and instead allow senators to fulfill their constitutionally-mandated role of providing advice and consent,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner said. “The American people deserve a fully functioning judiciary, starting with a full Supreme Court bench.”

Garland’s religious background was a hot topic on Twitter within minutes of Obama’s announcement. Jews appreciated the historically high ratio his confirmation would create.

But the overwhelming initial focus was on Garland’s name, which isn’t obviously Jewish.

Is Merrick Garland a fellow Jew-with-not-obviously-Jewish-name?! Huzzah! Our club is small, but fun! https://t.co/IPDaNw25Bd

— Elizabeth Picciuto (@epicciuto) March 16, 2016

@SethAMandel what the — Merrick Garland is Jewish? What the hell kind of clubbable name is that for a Jew?

— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) March 16, 2016

i was confused about how someone named Merrick Garland could be jewish but his mom was one Shirley Horwitz so it all checks out

— Rachel Sanders (@rachelysanders) March 16, 2016

Despite the Jewish Twitter’s onomastic skepticism, Garland is definitely a member of the tribe. His wife Lynn Rosenman, whose father was a special counsel to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, is too.

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