News and Commentary

Report: Merrick Garland Under Consideration To Serve As Biden AG
Merrick Garland
Chip Somodevilla / Staff via Getty Images

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland is reportedly one of several persons under consideration to serve as the attorney general for the next Democratic administration. 

NPR reported the development on Friday morning, citing “two people closely following the process,” but did not provide additional information.

Garland, 68, previously worked at the Department of Justice as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, DC, and as a deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s criminal division under the Bill Clinton administration. He later served as the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he continues to serve on the court as a judge. 

Back in 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a powerhouse of the conservative legal movement and a proponent of originalist judicial interpretation. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declined to hold nomination hearings for Garland, arguing that the political affiliations of the sitting Senate Republicans held a four-seat majority in conjunction with a looming presidential election made it inappropriate to hold an election before voters voiced themselves in November. 

Democratic have recently argued that McConnell didn’t apply the standard from 2016, when he blocked Garland’s nomination, to the Amy Coney Barrett hearings of 2020. 

But when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September, McConnell reiterated his 2016 position and showed how it did not apply to the 2020 Supreme Court vacancy, because the U.S. Senate, which is tasked with confirming nominees, remained of the same party as the president. 

“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” said McConnell in a statement. 

“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” continued McConnell back in September. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Fox News reports that other potential picks for a Biden administration attorney general include Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), who just lost his re-election bid, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is also considered to be in the running for a U.S. senate seat vacancy for the state. 

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