Merrick Garland (2021- )
Merrick Garland was born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 13, 1952, and raised in a suburb outside the city. His grandparents had immigrated to the United States to escape antisemitism in Europe. He attended Harvard University, graduating in 1974, and then went on to Harvard Law School, finishing in 1977. After leaving school, Garland clerked for two judges: Henry Friendly at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and William Brennan at the US Supreme Court.
Early in his career, Garland worked as a special assistant to the US Attorney General before joining a private law firm in Washington, DC, where he was an antitrust specialist and a corporate litigator. He left the firm to become a federal prosecutor in 1989. He joined the Justice Department as a deputy assistant US attorney general in 1993 and became principal associate deputy US attorney general the next year. In that position, Garland oversaw the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing and was noted for his careful preparation and deft handling of the case.
President Bill Clinton appointed him to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997, and in 2013, Garland became the chief judge on the DC Circuit Court. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the US Supreme Court, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. However, Senate Republicans blocked his nomination and would not even meet with him to discuss it. When President Donald Trump took office, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the seat, and Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017.
After President Joe Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 presidential election, he announced in January 2021 that he intended to nominate Garland as the US attorney general to run the Justice Department. The US Senate confirmed Garland on March 10, 2021, by a vote of 70 to 30, and he was sworn in the next day. One of Garland’s challenges as attorney general was to try to restore the Justice Department’s reputation as an independent department after President Trump operated as if the department was loyal only to him personally.