President Obama said Wednesday that he will nominate federal Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the Supreme Court, challenging the resolve of Republican senators opposed to an election-year confirmation by naming an experienced jurist with a strong reputation as a centrist, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In an appearance together in the White House Rose Garden, Obama praised Garland as the kind of candidate he had promised to choose: one with sterling credentials and a widely respected temperament.

Garland is known as "one of America's sharpest legal minds," Obama said, who "brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence."

"These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle," Obama said.

Obama aides believe Garland's nomination may move Republican senators off their repeated pledge not to hold meetings with the nominee of a president who has less than a year left in his term. Some officials in the White House even believe they stand a shot of getting a confirmation hearing for Garland in the Senate.

The selection of Garland, a judicial moderate who at 63 is older than the presidents' other finalists, could be meant to signal compromise with Republicans on Obama's part. Still, Obama has the opportunity to tilt the nation's highest court to a liberal majority for the first time in a generation.

Garland, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was a leading contender for the last vacancy, in 2010. If confirmed, Garland would be the oldest justice to join the Supreme Court since Lewis Powell, who was 64 when he took his seat in 1972.