Criminal Justice

If Joe Biden Is Serious About Criminal Justice Reform, He Won't Pick Merrick Garland for Attorney General

Garland’s judicial record is replete with deferential votes for police and prosecutors.


President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly considering federal Judge Merrick Garland to serve as the attorney general in his administration. According to reporting by NPR, "two people closely following the process" say that Garland is a contender for the role in the Biden White House.

Garland, a long-serving judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was President Barack Obama's 2016 pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. But Garland's SCOTUS nomination was totally stonewalled by the Republican-controlled Senate, which refused to even hold hearings. As a result, President Donald Trump was later able to fill the vacancy by nominating Neil Gorsuch.

Plenty of Democrats would no doubt enjoy the idea of Biden trolling the GOP by sending Garland back to Capitol Hill for another high-profile Senate confirmation showdown.

But the idea of Garland serving as attorney general is also likely to trouble many criminal justice reform advocates. That is because Garland has the sort of judicial record that police and prosecutors are quite happy to see. As I noted in a 2016 column:

While Garland is undoubtedly a legal liberal, his record reflects a version of legal liberalism that tends to line up in favor of broad judicial deference to law enforcement and wartime executive power.

In the area of criminal law, for example, Garland's votes have frequently come down on the side of prosecutors and police. In 2010, when Garland was reported to be under consideration to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein observed that "Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants' appeals of their convictions."

On the presidential campaign trail, Biden made certain efforts to distance himself from his regrettable record as an inveterate drug warrior and law enforcement booster. If Biden would like to demonstrate his seriousness about turning over a new leaf on criminal justice issues, picking Merrick Garland for the top law enforcement position in his administration might not be the best way to do it.

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  1. It’s really simple he’s not. He chose a cop as his vice president. He’s more pro police and locking people up than Trump.

    1. But, but, Orange Man treated mean things….Libertarians must reject him and embrace our new sundowning overlord.

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    2. Harris was a prosecutor, not a cop.

      1. You say that like it is some sort of meaningful distinction. And it is. It’s just that the distinction makes her even worse.

        Nobody stays in for jail very long, and nobody whatsoever goes to prison absent a prosecutor.

    3. The Biden Crime Bill all you need to know about Biden and his ideas on justice.

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    6. And agaIn with this Merrick Garland douchebag? Do progtards jack off to this guy?

      Actually that’s a good question for Tubby Jeffy, Pedophilia Enthusiast.

    7. Trump released Blacks from prison with the First Step Act, Biden plans to lock them up with Garland.

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  3. …his record reflects a version of legal liberalism that tends to line up in favor of broad judicial deference to law enforcement and wartime executive power.

    So a modern progressive.

    1. Or old-fashioned progressive, for that matter.

      1. Old-fashioned progressives are just conservatives.

        1. Or fascists. The original American progressive movement was basically the American version of Fascism.

          1. Pretty much, though backwards. Fascism is just an Italian imitation of Wilson’s War Socialism with added theatrics because Italy.

            1. The Nazis did improve on Wilson’s propaganda techniques.

  4. Hey, at least he’s not picking AOC to start the purge.

    1. Are you suggesting AOC binges and purges to maintain that svelte figure?

      1. suggesting a binge on AOC.

        1. I wouldn’t mind her binging on my cock. It’s a lot better use of her time than attempting to be a congressman.

      2. I think it highly likely she swallows. Just ask Ted Kennedy.

    2. Biden has more in common with Trump than with AOC.

      1. So youre still denying his platform included the GND, raised taxes, Medicare for all, open immigration, lockdowns, critical race theory, etc?

        Okay then.

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  5. “If Joe Biden Is Serious About Criminal Justice Reform”

    You people are worse than progressives in some ways. Even they don’t lie to themselves that much.

    1. Joe Biden has more experience lying so of course he hides it better from the easily deluded.

      1. I mean, you don’t exactly have to lie if nobody is ever going to ask you about any of this shit.

  6. Seems like the editors and writers at Reason have zero respect for the US Constitution, which required/s the Electoral College to pick the next President (not propagandists in the media), required/s the House to decide (with one vote per state) to decide if insufficient votes are obtained in the EC), and authorized/s State Legislatures (not Governors, Secretaries of State, County Election officials or anyone in the news media) to select delegates for the EC.

    1. “If Joe Biden Is Serious About Criminal Justice Reform, He Won’t Pick Merrick Garland for Attorney General”

      If Reason Were Serious About Libertarianism or the US Constitution, They Wouldn’t Presume Nor Claim Biden Won Unless/Until the Constitutional Process Properly Determines/Declares Biden Won

      1. If Biden is declared the winner (by the Constitutional process, not by media propagandists), he’ll do what Steve and Jeff Richetti (and their many wealthy and powerful clients) and Biden’s other handlers tell him to do until Pelosi and Schumer (per lobbying by Harris and other leftists) force Biden to resign due to his senility.

        How about a Reason article revealing the many wealthy and powerful clients of Richetti and the other 40 lobbyists Biden’s team has already picked for its transition team and/or future administration.

        1. If Trump’s wealth is immaterial, and his friends’ wealth is immaterial, why do you think Biden’s friends’ wealth is material? Are you one of those who thinks wealth is a sign of immorality?

          1. Ill-gotten wealth is not immaterial.

            1. So, tell me how Sloe Joe became so rich, having spent his entire adult life on the public teat?

        2. Who are all of you fucking cultists who were apparently born yesterday?

          1. There’s millions of them.

          2. Tell us again about Russia.

            1. What’s the point. You are full on delusional.

              Remember when you were talking about “Binford’s law” (sic)? ahahaha

              1. Remember when you advocated for illegal alien child molesters to come to America? Pepperidge Farms remembers. As well as the other commenters here.

        3. Prediction: Biden will resign on January 21st, 2022. This would give Harris day less than two years in office, meaning she could be elected in ’24 AND re-elected in ’28 for a total of 10 years less a day in office.

      2. If Bill Godshall were serious about responding to quotes he himself picked, he would read said quotes first; nowhere in that quote does Damon Root (not Reason) claim that Biden is President Elect.

  7. First, I’m not sure exactly how serious Biden is about criminal justice reform. I wouldn’t be surprised if his focus on this issue was just another election strategy.


    If Biden does turn out to be serious about criminal justice reform, isn’t it entirely possible that he could make this clear to his pick for Attorney General? That is, if Merrick Garland is your first pick, then sit him down in a room and say to him, “I want you for Attorney General, but criminal justice reform is going to be an important part of my policy agenda, so I need to know now if you can get on board with it. If you can, tell me now and we’ll move forward; if you can’t, then say so, and I’ll find someone else. But this is a deal-breaker.”

    Surely presidents and other political chief executives do this sort of vetting all the time with their cabinet picks.

    1. There’s no way Biden is doing this. He may have staff who might do this, but Biden is in a cardigan, eating Tapioca and watching Judge Judy reruns.

      1. Wrong.

        Matlock. He’s watching Matlock re-runs.

    2. Lol if you think Biden is principled to that degree.

      Not gonna happen.

      He’s already drinking egg nog.

      1. I think you’re right, it’s not going to happen. But it’s because Sleepy Joe will be letting Harris run the White House. This is the Harris-Biden ticket.

  8. if (insert politician’s name) is serious about (insert issue they claim to care about), then he/she won’t (insert thing they are likely to do.)

    1. You figured out the pattern for 50% of reason articles!

  9. So, you’re saying Garland is a shoe-in?

    Look, Biden is probably serious about criminal justice “reform”, but maybe you should try remembering that all “reform” really means is change, it doesn’t say what sort of change.

    He’ll change things, alright. You won’t like it a bit, though.

  10. why bother with the “is Joe Biden serious?” premise?

    1. I laughed a lot when I read this. And then I cried a little.

    2. I just read it as “Joe Biden is not serious about…”.

  11. The facts of Garland’s record must be wrong, as the mythos of left rhetoric has it that he is perfect and was robbed of a seat on the bench with SCOTUS.

    1. The left lionization of Garland exists purely because he was Wrongfully Denied as a choice of St. Barack. If he had been proposed by a guy with an R after his name, his rulings would be given Twitter-level cancel culture scrutiny and he would be out. Even Kopmala was despised by the very voters she was selected as a sop to: my black friends were nauseated with her as the veep choice and how their view was completely being taken for granted, but choked her down because the alternative (as they saw it) was worse.

      1. *vote was being taken for granted

      2. Reason is making him out to be Jeff Sessions 2.0.

  12. Attorneys General don’t exist to serve a particular policy agenda, they exist to cover the President’s ass, be their “wingman” as Eric Holder put it. You need a big fat evil crook as your AG, not anybody who has even as much as an ounce of scruples.

    1. “You need a big fat evil crook as your AG”

      One thing that COVID has not affected the supply of.

    2. Yup. Hence the irredeemable failure of Jeff Sessions.

      Dude, you had one job.

  13. Pretty sure he’s interested in cashing is on his office and perpetuating power for himself and his comrades.

  14. I don’t know what to think any more. This weekend, I listed to a progressive police reform advocate and BLM protest leader who literally said we needed to go back to segregation, because segregation was more progressive. So… whatevs… as the kids say.

    1. Wasn’t it the Democrats back in the day that favored segregation?

      As they say, nothing new under the sun!

      1. Biden has gone full circle from supporting segregation in the 70’s, to opposing it and now coming back to supporting it again.

  15. Why pay attention to what Biden says? Joe Biden won’t be running the federal government; in his mental state he won’t even be running Joe Biden.

    1. Literally every single one of Biden’s so-called “gaffes” is simply the result of his stutter. So please stop stutter-shaming.


      1. right man, he’s ahhh y’know ahhhh c’mon ahhhhh … sharp!

        1. He’s smart ! Not like everybody says !


  16. Don’t worry. I guarantee President Biden will implement Charles Koch’s #EmptyThePrisons agenda.

    1. He’ll have to run that by VP Harris first. Koch would approve.

  17. Plenty of Democrats would no doubt enjoy the idea of Biden trolling the GOP by sending Garland back to Capitol Hill for another high-profile Senate confirmation showdown.

    That higher order grasp of current events is probably above the average Democrat’s attention span.

  18. If Joe Biden Is Serious About Criminal Justice Reform….

    ok, so i can stop reading now

    1. If is definitely doing the heavy lifting in that sentence.

  19. So McConnell was actually right to deny him a SCOTUS seat.

    Who knew?

  20. Do we really gaf what Reason thinks? This is the same rag that has daily articles about what Biden should or shouldn’t do or how terrible he’ll be but seemed content enough with the orange fascist for 4 years.

    1. If Reason thinks there’s going to be any kind of meaningful reform for issues they hold dear, then they’re fools. And if some on staff voted for him, worse than fools.

      Biden is already going go back to the Paris Accords and wants that Iran deal. Expect nothing but violence and incoherence in the Mid-East. Any gains made by minorities will take a step back.

      Trump had it going on man. But people went for the messenger and that was that.

      It’s not over though.

    2. “seemed content enough with the orange fascist for 4 years”


      Maybe you missed the dozens of pieces by Reason’s best writer Shikha Dalmia denouncing Drumpf’s alt-right white nationalist immigration policies. Or the equally frequent columns by Boehm detailing the economic devastation caused by his tariffs. Or ENB’s work chronicling the attempts to turn this country into The Handmaid’s Tale by denying access to abortion care. Or Billy Binion’s breakdowns of the impeachment saga in which he made clear that #TrumpUkraine was the biggest scandal in world history.

      Indeed, has probably been the best source of anti-Drumpf / pro-#Resistance journalism. Even better than HBO and Comedy Central.

      1. MSNBC would like a word.

    3. That’s a very silly comment.

  21. Is Reason going to go ahead and pretend Biden is going to be anything but who he is (a remedial, corrupted hoodlum) who will just copy Obama and go with Obama 2.0 who in turn had ripped off Bush?

    1. C’mon Rufus, they’re just giving him a chance. Everyone deserves a 900th chance.

    2. Doesn’t seem to me like they are pretending anything like that.

      But I would like to ask where were all of these articles about how awful he is before the election?

      1. Reason just wants something to bitch about.

        Their formula is the help get the biggest douchebag in charge so they have more to whine about in their articles. It’s hard to be respected when all you got is orange man bad, so getting a true big government statist in the White House gives them more to write (bitch) about, which they hope will attract readers.

        1. I think you may be overestimating their influence on who gets into office.
          But I think you are more or less right. They are more comfortable with a more conventional big government statist (Trump isn’t exactly a minimal government or anti-statist kind of guy) in office.
          They did pretty well through Bush and Obama. Trump breaks people’s brains.

    3. Sounds like you’re not trying to unify there, buddy!


  22. totally stonewalled

    The word, sir, is “rejected”, not “stonewalled”.

    There’s nothing in the Constitution that specifies the procedure by which the Senate denies consent to a nominee; indeed, it is explicitly the prerogative of the Senate to adopt whatever procedures it chooses. There is simply a requirement that a Supreme Court nominee gain such consent, which the Senate refused.

    1. Why use a morally correct term like “rejected” when you can propagandize by using “stonewalled”?

  23. I strongly suspect that Garland’s policy positions will play very little into whether he is picked. The desire here is to “own” those horrible deplorables by elevating the man whose Supreme Court seat was “stolen”.

    1. I agree, Garland is the pick because he could not get confirmed for the Supreme court. He would have been a terrible justice and will be a terrible AG too. Maybe the Senate won’t confirm again?

  24. Seem to have answered your own question. If Joe! is serious about criminal justice reform he won’t nominate Garland. So, Garland it is.

  25. And if pigs could fly they’d have wings.

    1. Penguins have wings, still can’t fly!

      1. Sure they fly, they just do it in a fluid that is much denser than air.

        Search out a video of penguins in the water, you will see them fly.

        1. True, that. Now do emus or ostriches or kiwis…

  26. So- an old white guy, then? Those rioting BLM folks should be happy now.

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  28. “If Joe Biden Is Serious About Criminal Justice Reform, He Won’t Pick Merrick Garland for Attorney General”

    Slobbering Joe is serious about this: he ain’t Trump, and with the support of fucking lefty TDS victims like WK, it looks like he will take office.
    All else is commentary; the guy is senile, FFS.

    1. So, what are they ways that Reason will choose to play it when Biden is revealed to be non compos mentis?

      Will they feign surprise?

      Will they try to pretend they never pretended he wasn’t demented?

      Will it be the ‘everyone knew’ line?

      Same question for the not-so closeted progg and leftist commenters.

  29. His whole cabinet and staff is a dumpster fire of war mongers and lobbyists, why would AG be any different?

    1. or any better…


  31. Sure they fly, they just do it in a fluid this is much denser than air. Search out a video of penguins inside the water, you’ll see them fly.

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  33. Fine. Don’t pick him…. who ya goona pick?

    Sally Yates? That’s the other name floated. You know, the same Sally Yates who ran back from the meeting where President Elect (then VP) Joe Biden personally advocated for creating a crime to prosecute Michael Flynn for. She was so horrified by this abuse of power and violation of the law that she ran back to her office and penned a CYA memo to memorialize the facts – and ensure that posterity knew that she wasn’t the one making the calls.

    I know 4 years ago is a super-duper long time and nobody can remember stuff that far back. But the dude was involved in a plot to use the FBI and the CIA to target political opponents. You really think criminal justice reform is something that is important to him or his people? You really think there is a name on the prospective AG list that would be allowed to make things objectively better?

    Good lord, son. I have to go find a bridge that I can sell, because I’ve found a willing buyer…..

  34. If Joe Biden was serious about criminal justice reform, he wouldn’t be Joe Biden.

  35. Joe Biden is serious about Criminal Justice Reform. He has a long record of reforming criminal justice to be tougher on crime and minorities, along with his VP. He will continue to reform criminal justice, in the opposite direction that morons who voted for him were hoping (in total disregard for his actual record).

    1. Well, at the very least, most blacks seem to want to be fucked over by the police…

  36. At least Biden isn’t serious about fighting the weather, since he made John Kerry the weather czar, er, climate change envoy. Sounds important, he can travel a lot by plane and SUV to important conferences.

  37. Joe Biden isn’t serious. Never has been.

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