KEY POINTS

  • Merrick Garland was tapped for the Supreme Court by Obama
  • Other names for attorney general include former Gov. Deval Patrick
  • Garland is considered something of a moderate judge

Merrick Garland, offered as a candidate for a Supreme Court seat by former President Barack Obama, could be President-elect Joe Biden’s attorney general.

Garland, who’s served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997, is among those considered for attorney general in the incoming Biden administration.

Garland is on the shortlist, NPR reports, along with others including an assistant attorney for civil rights under President Bill Clinton and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Sally Yates, who was the U.S. deputy attorney general under Obama, and former U.S. attorney and Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.

Among Garland’s more high-profile rulings was his refusal to let inmates held at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, access the federal courts with petitions. As a federal prosecutor in the Justice Department, Garland oversaw the prosecution of the perpetrators behind the deadly 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City.

Garland’s pick by Obama as a possible Supreme Court justice during his last term in office was controversial, both in 2016 and again in late 2020. Republican leaders under the Obama administration refused to consider the March 16 nomination because it was close to Election Day.

Under President Donald Trump, Republican leaders ignored that precedent and rushed through with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg just over a week before Election Day. Garland was considered to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died 200 days before the 2016 election.

An NPR profile of Garland from 2016 described him as a “moderate liberal.” His nomination to the Supreme Court died in Obama’s lame-duck session. U.S. President Donald Trump filled the vacant seat on the bench in 2017 with Neil Gorsuch, a conservative justice.

Even as President Trump continues to challenge the election results, Biden has been busy filling out the ranks of his White House staff. Among the more high-ranking positions already announced was his chief of staff, which went to long-time political advisor Ron Klain.

The attorney general position is among the most senior posts vetted by the Biden transition team. On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard are short-listed for the job of secretary of the Treasury Department.

merrick garland Senate Republicans refused to give a hearing to Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Garland is pictured here in Washington, March 16, 2016. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters