November 4, 2022

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Merrick Garland: Next US Attorney General To Be Nominated

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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.

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Garland was the supreme court nominee of Barack Obama who was memorably blocked by Republicans.
Joe Biden will nominate the federal appeals judge Merrick Garland to be the next US attorney general, a transition official for the president-elect said on Wednesday, a choice most Americans know as the supreme court nominee of Barack Obama who was memorably blocked by Republicans.

Garland, 68, serves as a judge on the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. Obama, a Democrat, nominated him to the supreme court in 2016 while Biden was vice-president, but the Republican-controlled US Senate refused to hold hearings on the nomination.

Biden, who takes office in two weeks, also intends to nominate justice department veterans Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general and Kristen Clarke as the assistant attorney general to the civil rights division, the official said.

During his election campaign, Biden pledged to take steps to end racial disparities in sentencing by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, ending the use of the federal death penalty and restoring the justice department’s role of investigating and holding police departments accountable for “systemic misconduct”.

While many of these initiatives would require approval from Congress, Garland as attorney general will still have significant power to address these topics through changes in policy, such as by instructing prosecutors not to seek the death penalty or to make charging decisions that will not trigger mandatory minimums.

The news came as Democrats looked set to win two US Senate seats up for grabs in Georgia runoff elections held on Tuesday, which would give the party control of both houses of Congress and give Biden more leeway to enact his agenda.

Garland, who has served on the federal appeals bench since 1997, is no stranger to the justice department.

Before becoming a judge, he worked as a federal prosecutor where he helped secure a conviction against Timothy McVeigh for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. He was also on the team that helped secure a conviction of former District of Columbia mayor Marion Barry for cocaine possession.

Garland held other key posts at the justice department, including serving as principal deputy associate attorney general to the deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, starting in 1994.

Obama nominated Garland in March 2016 to replace the long-serving conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who died on 13 February 2016. But the then Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a Republican, refused to consider the nomination on the grounds it should not occur in a presidential election year.

That stance, assailed by Democrats at the time, came under further criticism two months before the 2020 presidential election, when McConnell rushed to confirm Donald Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to fill the vacancy of the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

While serving as attorney general under Trump until last month, William Barr faced criticism for his willingness to intervene in criminal cases in ways that benefited Trump’s political allies, such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.