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Merrick Garland: What to know about Biden’s attorney general nominee

President Biden has chosen Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general, as the new administration begins to take form.

Garland’s nomination comes nearly five years after President Barack Obama unsuccessfully nominated him to the Supreme Court. While Garland never received a hearing for the high court position, he will face a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in consideration of his nomination for the attorney general position.


Here are five things to know about Garland:

1. Decades on the bench

Garland has been serving on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for more than 20 years. He was first appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997. He was the court’s chief judge from 2013-2020.

2. Extensive Justice Department experience

Despite his more recent history as a judge, Garland would not be new to the Justice Department if he ends up leading them. His experience with the DOJ dates back to 1979, when he began as a special assistant attorney general, a role he held until 1981. He was an assistant U.S. attorney from 1989 to 1992, a deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s criminal division from 1993 to 1994, and from 1994 to 1997 he was principal associate deputy attorney general under Attorney General Janet Reno.

FILE – In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Attorney General Judge Merrick Garland speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

3. Leadership after Oklahoma City bombing

Perhaps Garland’s best known work for the DOJ was his role in the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing case. As Attorney General Reno’s principal associate deputy attorney general, Garland was on the ground in Oklahoma City following the attack and led the DOJ’s prosecution team for several weeks until a permanent lead attorney was assigned to the case. He continued to advise prosecutors for the next two years, through the preparation for the trial of bomber Timothy McVeigh.

4. Private practice

While most of his career has been in public service, Garland did work in the private sector for a relatively short time at the law firm Arnold & Porter, where he eventually became a partner.


5. Supreme Court experience

While Garland ultimately was not appointed to the Supreme Court following his 2016 nomination, he does have experience working for the high court, having clerked for Justice William Brennan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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