Biden selects Judge Merrick Garland for attorney-general, says official

A 2016 photo shows Garland (left) with US president Barack Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President-elect Joe Biden will nominate federal appeals judge Merrick Garland to be the next US attorney-general, a Biden transition official said on Wednesday (Jan 6), a choice most Americans know as the Supreme Court nominee of President Barack Obama memorably blocked by Republicans.

Garland serves as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Obama, a Democrat, nominated him to the Supreme Court while Biden was vice-president, but the Republican-controlled US Senate refused to hold hearings on the nomination.

Biden also intends to nominate Justice Department veterans Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney-general and Kristen Clarke as the assistant attorney-general to the Civil Rights Division, according to a source with knowledge of his decision.

Garland, who has served on the federal appeals bench since 1997, is no stranger to the Justice Department.

Prior to becoming a judge, he worked as a federal prosecutor where he helped secure a conviction against Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing.

He was also on the team that helped secure a conviction of former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry for cocaine possession.

Garland held other key posts at the Justice Department, including serving as principal deputy associate attorney general to Deputy Attorney-General Jamie Gorelick starting in 1994.

Obama nominated Garland in March 2016 to replace long-serving conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb 13, 2016.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider the nomination on the grounds it should not occur in a presidential election year.

The stance, assailed by Democrats at the time, came under further criticism after McConnell rushed to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy of the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than two months before the 2020 presidential election.

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