Biden Just Picked Merrick Garland for Attorney General

The DC Circuit Court judge was Obama's Supreme Court pick, but famously never got his Senate hearing.
January 6, 2021, 5:38pm
US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland waits for a meeting with Sen. Brian E. Schatz (D-HI) on Capitol Hill May 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.
US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland waits for a meeting with Sen. Brian E. Schatz (D-HI) on Capitol Hill May 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

It looks like Merrick Garland will finally get a Senate confirmation vote, four years late and for an entirely different job.

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to be his Attorney General, multiple outlets reported Wednesday. The story was broken by Politico.

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A Clinton appointee who was overwhelmingly confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in 1997, Garland was nominated in 2016 by President Barack Obama to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Infamously, Garland never got the job because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to give him a hearing for nearly a year, and Obama’s presidency ended without confirming Garland to the court. That left a seat open for President Trump to pick his own candidate, and Neil Gorsuch was eventually selected as Scalia’s replacement.

For the Attorney General job, and with Democrats on the verge of retaking the Senate with the narrowest of majorities, it appears Garland will finally get a hearing.

Other candidates reportedly in the running for the job in Biden’s administration were former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and former U.S. Attorney Sally Yates

Garland’s track record on the federal bench is widely viewed as moderate, something that could come in handy for a Senate confirmation hearing for the Attorney General post. Prior to Garland’s selection in 2016, he won support from some Republicans, including former Sen. Orrin Hatch, as a  potential Supreme Court nominee. But when he was chosen in 2016, Republicans had the Senate majority, and the GOP backed McConnell’s decision to block his confirmation hearing.

Garland’s nomination will now free up a seat on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court, setting the stage for another contentious battle between Democrats and Republicans. Crucially, Democrats appear likely to retake the Senate with Raphael Warnock’s win in the Georgia Senate special election runoff and Jon Ossoff’s lead over Sen. David Perdue

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment. Biden is expected to officially announce Garland as Attorney General later this week, the Associated Press reported.