Judge Merrick Garland
President Obama nominated Merrick Garland on March 16 to become an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court following the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, which left the court with only eight of its nine justices.
Garland, who has served 19 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (D.C. Circuit), including as its chief judge for the last three years, is one of the most experienced and highly respected judges in the country. The D.C. Circuit is considered by many to be the nation’s second most important court after the Supreme Court, and during his tenure, Garland has earned bipartisan praise for his legal acumen, his fairness, and his ability to forge consensus among judges across the ideological spectrum. Garland has distinguished himself as a jurist who decides every case based on what the law requires.
“The role of the court,” Garland has said, “is to apply the law to the facts of the case before it—not to legislate, not to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinions on the issues of the day.”
An Illinois native, Garland attended Harvard University on an academic scholarship and graduated from both Harvard and its law school with high honors. Garland clerked for both Second Circuit Judge Henry Friendly and Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. After four years in private practice, Garland became a partner at a prominent law firm but soon left to become a federal prosecutor during the administration of President George H.W. Bush before moving to the Department of Justice. In the 1990s, he was involved in a number of high-profile cases, including coordinating the federal government’s investigation and prosecution following the Oklahoma City bombing and supervising the investigation of the Unabomber.
In 1997, Garland was confirmed, 76-23, to the D.C. Circuit with strong bipartisan support, including the votes of seven Republicans still serving in the Senate: Dan Coats (Ind.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Ok.) and John McCain (Ariz.). In 2010, when Garland was under consideration for the Supreme Court vacancy that went to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Hatch told Reuters that he had known Garland for years and that he would be “a consensus nominee.” Hatch, a former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said then that there was “no question” Garland could be confirmed.
Under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the President shall nominate a Justice to the Supreme Court “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” The President fulfilled his constitutional responsibility by nominating an eminently qualified American to the Supreme Court who deserves a fair hearing and an up-or-down confirmation vote. Senators should do their jobs and move expeditiously to consider the President’s nominee. That is what the Constitution dictates, and that’s what the American people expect and deserve from their elected representatives.
Read: Civil and Human Rights Coalition Applauds Garland Nomination, Urges Senate to Do its Job on Fair Hearing and Timely Vote
Group Statements on Judge Garland's Nomination
AAPI Victory Fund
Alliance for Justice
American Association for Justice
American Association of University Women
American Constitution Society
Americans United for Change
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
Bend the Arc
Center for American Progress
Center for Reproductive Rights
Constitutional Accountability Center
Defenders of Wildlife
Environmental Defense Fund
Human Rights Campaign
Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
League of Conservation Voters
League of United Latin American Citizens
Mi Familia Vota
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
National Education Association
National Health Law Program
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Resources Defense Council
National Urban League
National Women's Law Center
People For the American Way
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Service Employees International Union
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
United Auto Workers