Who is Merrick Garland, Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee?

World Today

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, walks out with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The White House calls the Honorable Merrick B. Garland one of the best appellate judges in the country and the most qualified person to serve on the Supreme Court.

Judge Merrick Garland on being nominated to Supreme Court

Judge Merrick Garland sums up his judicial philosophy.

Current Position:

Chief Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. Appointed to Court of Appeals in 1997, became Chief Judge in 2013.


Graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1974 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1977.

Legal Experience:

Served as law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.

Brennan called him “a person of exceptional talent and great personal integrity” and “one of the best” clerks Brennan had.

From 1979 to 1981, he was Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States.

He then joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he was a partner from 1985 to 1989 and from 1992 to 1993.

He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994.

From 1994 until his appointment as U.S. Circuit Judge, he served as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, where his responsibilities included supervising the Oklahoma City bombing and UNABOM prosecutions.

Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit 1997-present.

Personal Life:

Garland, 63, was born and raised in Illinois by a mother who served as a community volunteer and a father who ran a small business out of the family home. He served as valedictorian of his public high school class and won scholarships to attend Harvard University.

While in college, Garland worked a summer job as a shoe store stock clerk and sold his comic book collection to help pay his tuition. As a law student, he earned room and board by counseling undergraduates.

He married his wife Lynn in 1987 and has two daughters, Becky and Jessie. The family enjoys skiing, hiking, and canoeing, and together they have visited many of America’s national parks. He is Jewish.

What others say about him:

“The role of the court 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.” –Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, March 19, 1997

“[President Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.” –Senator Orrin Hatch, March 13, 2016

“I am writing to ask your support and assistance in the confirmation process for a second cousin… Merrick Garland has had a distinguished legal career.” –Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, October 10, 1995

“What Senators ought to be talking about is the fact that Merrick Garland is a superb nominee. He has been seen as a superb nominee by Republicans and Democrats alike, by all writers in this field. At a time when some seem to want people who are not qualified, here is a person with qualifications that are among the best I have ever seen.” —Senator Patrick Leahy, March 19, 1997

“Any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area. And the function of his dissent, to make us focus on what we were deciding and to make sure that we felt we were doing the right thing, I think was well-served. But Judge Garland disagreed, and so it’s obviously, to me, a case on which reasonable judges can disagree.” —Chief Justice John G. Roberts, September 14, 2005

Compiled from information from the White House and the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Full statement from Supreme Court nominee Garland

President Barack Obama nominated appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, challenging Republicans to drop their adamant refusal to even consider his choice in an election year.