Who is Merrick Garland -  Attorney General nominee: Biography, Life, Career and Reason to be Picked
Merrick Garland. Photo: apnews.com

Who is Merrick Garland?

Merrick Brian Garland (born November 13, 1952) is an American lawyer and jurist who serves as a United States circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served on that court since 1997. President-elect Joe Biden has selected Garland to be nominated as the United States attorney general in the upcoming Biden administration.

Early life

Merrick Brian Garland was born in Chicago. He was raised in the northern suburb of Lincolnwood in the Chicago area. His mother Shirley (née Horwitz) was a director of volunteer services at Chicago's Council for Jewish Elderly (now called CJE SeniorLife); his father, Cyril Garland, headed Garland Advertising, a small business run out of the family's home. Born to a Jewish family, Garland was raised in Conservative Judaism. His grandparents left the Pale of Settlement within the Russian Empire in the early 20th century, fleeing antisemitic pogroms and seeking a better life for their children in the United States.


According to Politico, Garland graduated from Harvard College in 1974 and from Harvard Law School in 1977. After a brief stint at the Justice Department during the Carter administration, he went into private practice but dropped that to become a federal prosecutor — a fact Obama called attention to when introducing Garland in the Rose Garden Wednesday. President Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the D.C. Circuit in 1995, but the Senate held up his confirmation for 19 months, approving it on a 76-23 vote soon after the 1996 elections.

Personal life

Who is Merrick Garland -  Attorney General nominee: Biography, Life, Career and Reason to be Picked

Merrick Garland Family. Photo: Youtube

Garland married his wife, Lynn in 1987. Lynn Garland's grandfather, Samuel Irving Rosenman, was a justice of the New York Supreme Court (a trial-level court) and a special counsel to presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. Garland and his wife have two daughters, Rebecca and Jessica; both are graduates of Yale University. He is a second cousin of six-term Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, reported kiro7.

For more information around Biden's picks for his coming administration, please click here!


Department of Justice and D.C. Circuit

He was special assistant to the attorney general of the U.S. from 1979 to 1981.

He served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992 and as deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994.

From 1994 until his appointment as U.S. circuit judge, Garland served as principal associate deputy attorney general. During his time as principal associate deputy attorney general, Garland supervised the prosecution of Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.

In September 1995, former president Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the D.C. Circuit seat after it was vacated by Abner J. Mikva.

In 1997, Republican U.S. senator and Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch supported Garland’s appointment to the federal appeals court, saying “his intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned.”

Supreme Court nomination

Who is Merrick Garland -  Attorney General nominee: Biography, Life, Career and Reason to be Picked
Photo: politico.com

Garland was a leading contender for a nomination to the Supreme Court during the Obama administration, with early seats ultimately going to Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. In 2016, Garland was nominated following the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. However, Republicans refused to hold a hearing on the nomination. The seat was later filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch during the Trump administration.

In early March 2016, The New York Times reported that Garland was being vetted by the Obama Administration as a potential nominee. A week later, Garland was named as one of three judges on the President's "shortlist" (along with Judge Sri Srinivasan, also of the D.C. Circuit, and Judge Paul J. Watford of the Ninth Circuit). Obama interviewed all three leading contenders, as well as two others who were being considered: Judge Jane L. Kelly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Five days later, on March 16, Obama formally nominated Garland to the vacant post of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Garland had more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history and was the oldest Supreme Court nominee since Lewis F. Powell, Jr. in 1971. The American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Garland "well-qualified" (the committee's highest rating) to sit on the Supreme Court.

Joe Biden's Pick for the position of Attorney General

Who is Merrick Garland -  Attorney General nominee: Biography, Life, Career and Reason to be Picked
Biden picks Merrick Garland for attorney general. Photo: axios.com

According to Axios, President-elect Joe Biden announced Judge Merrick Garland as his pick for attorney general on 7th January 2021, seeking to place in the nation's top law enforcement job a respected federal appeals judge whose Supreme Court nomination Republicans blocked five years ago.

By selecting Garland, Biden is sending a message about fairness and redemption, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied hearings for President Obama's pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

As attorney general, Garland would face weighty decisions over whether to pursue investigations into Trump, former and current members of his administration, and his associates that some Democrats are demanding. Biden has made clear he is reluctant to prosecute a former president.

The justice department has a decades-old policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, though Trump’s term ends on 20 January. Trump has reportedly discussed the possibility of pardoning himself in the final days of his presidency, according to a report in the New York Times.

Garland may also face questions about how he will handle the tax investigation of Biden’s son Hunter being conducted by the US attorney in Delaware. Republicans, still furious over the department’s special counsel investigation into ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, have demanded the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the matter, according to The Guardian.

Memberships and committee service

Garland served as co-chair of the administrative law section of the District of Columbia Bar from 1991 to 1994. He is also a member of the American Law Institute.

In 2003, Garland was elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers, completing the unexpired term of Deval Patrick, who had stepped down from the board. Garland served as president of the overseers for 2009–10

For more information about the updated list of nominees and appointees that Biden picked for his administration, please click here!

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