March 4, 2021

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Key things to know about Merrick Garland, Biden’s attorney general nominee

2 min read
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, will testify this morning before the the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Biden tapped Garland for the post last month. Though a confluence of factors drove the decision, people familiar with the matter say it largely rested on Biden’s belief that Garland can rise above politics in the post-Trump era.

Former President Barack Obama had nominated Garland to the Supreme Court after a vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. But Republicans, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused for months to hold confirmation hearings or the required vote in the chamber.

When former President Trump took office, Garland’s nomination expired and he returned to his position as chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

The court is charged with reviewing challenges to administrative agencies. He stepped down from the position as chief judge in February 2020, but still serves on the court. Former President Bill Clinton had appointed him to the court in 1997.

Prior to his appointment as a US circuit judge, Garland served as principal associate deputy attorney general.

He supervised the investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed more than 160 people and injured several hundred more. Garland also led the investigations of the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta, in which two people died and more than 100 others were injured.

Additionally, the judge served as an assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department from 1993 to 1994.

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