Merrick Garland has been confirmed by the Senate for the position of Attorney General of the United States, but this is not his first presidential nomination.
Garland had a typical “American dream” upbringing, his grandparent came to the US fleeing anti-Semitism in their homeland within the former Soviet Union. Garland was born and raised in Chicago before attending Harvard undergraduate and law schools. During his time at Harvard, Garland was a member of the Harvard Law Review, a student group that publishes a journal of legal scholarship. After his graduation, Garland served as a law clerk for Judge Henry J. Friendly of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1977 to 1978 then Justice Brennan of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1978 to 1979.
Garland then worked for the Department of Justice during the Carter administration before entering private practice, litigating cases in the D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court. In 1993, Garland was appointed by President Clinton to deputy attorney general in the criminal division. During his time in the criminal division, Garland worked directly on the Unabomber case in Oklahoma City, a case that would be brought up several times during his confirmation hearing and lasting impacts would shape his views on law. In 1997, Garland was appointed by President Clinton to the US Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia where he would remain until 2021.
Garland was nominated by former President Barack Obama in March 2016 to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican majority Senate refused to vote on Garland’s nomination, leaving it open for 293 days, the longest to date. The spot was eventually filled by Neil Gorsuch who was nominated by President Trump and Garland remained a Court of Appeals judge.
In January 2021, Garland was nominated by President Biden for Attorney General of the United States and was confirmed by the Senate on March 10th by a 70-30 vote. During his confirmation hearings, Garland said that his first priority is to prosecute those involved in the January 6th Capitol insurrection. He has also stated his commitment to equal justice under law, “As I said at the announcement of my nomination, those norms require that like cases be treated alike. That there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans. One rule for friends and another for foes. One rule for the powerful and another for the powerless. One rule for the rich and another for the poor. Or different rules depending upon one’s race or ethnicity.” Garland has also committed to maintaining the independence of the Department of Justice.
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