Merrick Brian Garland (born November 13, 1952) is an American lawyer and jurist serving as the 86th United States attorney general beginning in March 2021. He served as a circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1997 to 2021. Born to Jewish parents, a native of the Chicago area, Garland attended Harvard University for his undergraduate and legal education.
After serving as a law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr., he practiced corporate litigation at Arnold & Porter and worked as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice, where he played a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers. Garland was appointed to the D.C. Circuit in March 1997 by President Bill Clinton, and served as its chief judge from 2013 to 2020. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, nominated Garland to serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in March 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. However, the Republican Senate majority refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination.
The unprecedented refusal of a Senate majority to consider the nomination was highly controversial. Garland’s nomination lasted 293 days (the longest to date by far), and it expired on January 3, 2017, at the end of the 114th Congress. Eventually, President Donald Trump, a Republican, nominated Neil Gorsuch to the vacant seat and the Republican Senate majority confirmed him. President Joe Biden nominated Garland as attorney general in January 2021. He was confirmed by the Senate and took office in March of that same year.