WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland hasn't made much progress winning over Senate Republicans, but he found a more receptive audience Wednesday in a room full of graduating fifth graders.
Garland delivered brief commencement remarks for a Washington elementary school where he has tutored students for the last 18 years.
He urged the children from J.O. Wilson Elementary School to "go ahead and dream, but also work to make those dreams come true."
About 50 children — along with parents, teachers and a large media contingent — attended the ceremony roughly a mile from the Supreme Court building where Garland hopes to sit one day.
The appeals court judge has been in political limbo since President Barack Obama nominated him three months ago to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans in Congress have refused to hold hearings or a confirmation vote until a new president takes office.
It was the second time Garland has delivered graduation remarks since his nomination. Last month, he spoke at the Chicago-area high school where he graduated 46 years ago. The events give Garland a way to keep up public appearances without commenting on the political firestorm surrounding his stalled nomination.
Garland was introduced by Vernell Garvin and Jenifer Morales-Garcia, two students he has tutored for years. Garland comes to the school every other week to help them with homework. Several of his law clerks also tutor children at the school, attended by mostly African-American and low-income students.
Speaking for less than 10 minutes, Garland sprinkled in references to Beyonce and basketball star Stephen Curry, telling the students that success comes from "practice, discipline and determination."
He also referenced "Harry Potter" character Professor Dumbledore on making important choices in life.
"Don't follow the crowd in the wrong direction. You be the brave one," he said.
Washington public schools spokeswoman Michelle Lerner said Garland was invited to deliver the speech by the school's principal, Heidi Haggerty.
Obama praised Garland's efforts at the school in March when he announced his pick for the Supreme Court. Garland's tutoring work was also featured in a White House video about the nominee's life.