Merrick Garland: Ex-Supreme Court nominee tapped for attorney general

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US President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general.

In 2016, then President Barack Obama nominated Mr Garland to the US Supreme Court but Republican senators refused to hold a vote on his nomination.

Mr Garland, 68, is currently the chief judge of the Washington appeals court.

He previously worked in the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration, where he oversaw several high-profile prosecutions.

Mr Garland was selected to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia by Mr Obama, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a confirmation vote to occur, effectively blocking his nomination.

At the time, Mr McConnell said the next justice should be chosen after the 2016 presidential election, which was eight months away.

Last year, Mr McConnell angered Democrats by successfully pushing through the nomination and confirmation of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett with less than a month to go before the 2020 presidential election.

Merrick Garland's second chance

When Donald Trump took office four years ago, Merrick Garland's hopes of becoming a Supreme Court justice as President Barack Obama's nominee were dashed by an extended confirmation blockade in the Republican-controlled Senate. Now, as Trump prepares to leave the White House, Garland has a new job prospect - attorney general under President Joe Biden.

While some liberal Democrats may be disappointed with having Garland, a relative moderate, running the Justice Department, others will relish the symbolism of Biden's pick.

For Democrats, Garland's nomination has an attractive side benefit, as it opens up a spot on the District of Columbia's circuit court - considered the second most powerful US judicial body behind the Supreme Court - for a judge who will almost certainly be much younger than the 68-year-old Garland. Already Ketanji Brown Jackson, a 50-year-old appointed to a district court by Barack Obama, is being floated as a possible nominee.

With Democrats poised to take control of the US Senate when Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris is sworn in later this month, the obstacles to filling Garland's vacant seat - the kind of obstacles Garland faced back in 2016 - are greatly diminished.

Such are the spoils of victory for Democrats across the US in November and in Georgia on Tuesday.

Mr Biden's selection of Mr Garland comes as Congress meets to certify the 2020 presidential election and as Democrats are poised to take control of the Senate.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was among the first to congratulate Mr Garland, calling him "a man of great character, integrity, and tremendous competency in the law."

Announcing Mr Garland's nomination, Mr Biden's team called him "a consensus-building voice".

"Judge Garland's nomination underscores the President-elect's commitment to restore integrity and the rule of law, boost morale of the dedicated career professionals at DOJ, and build a more equitable justice system that serves all Americans," a statement said.

He was chosen over other notable candidates, including former Senator Doug Jones and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, according to CBS News.

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