Department of Justice

Merrick Garland for Attorney General?

The well-respected appellate judge might be just the sort of Attorney General the nation needs.


NPR is reporting that Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is under consideration as a potential Biden nominee to lead the Department of Justice in the Biden Administration. Readers will no doubt recall that President Obama tapped Judge Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court in 2016, and that Garland's appointment was stymied by the Senate Republican leadership's refusal to act on the nomination. What some readers may not know is that Judge Garland is a veteran of the Justice Department, having served as a deputy associate attorney general, a deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, and as an assistant U.S. attorney.

While Republicans opposed allowing President Obama to shift the balance of the Supreme Court by replacing Justice Scalia with a liberal justice, Judge Garland is well-respected on both sides of the aisle and would likely be a relatively non-controversial Attorney General nominee. More importantly, his stature and independence would give him a degree of credibility more "political" nominees might lack. If President-elect Biden is looking for an Ed Levi-like figure to take over the helm at Justice, it would be hard to do better than Judge Garland.  Indeed, given the tumult and controversy within the Department of Justice these past four years, a figure like Merrick Garland might be just what the Department needs.

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  1. Why would he take such a worse job?

    1. He’s 68. He might not have that much time left on the court as it is and obviously federal court retiring is influenced by who the president is so he may be thinking it’s better to get out too early rather than too late.

      It’s actually a brilliant move by Biden if it happens because Garland is a liberal folk hero even while being a rule of law/conservative on crim pro. There will still be activists that howl, but it will get drowned out by the rest of the voices and Biden doesn’t have to stick a nutbag progressive in what he probably considers a very important position.

      1. I suppose its a decent time to retire, then take the megadeal at a law firm for a few years before real retirement.

    2. Because prosecuting the trash who blew up the country sounds like a reasonable runner up project?

      1. But wouldn’t that require him to wait until he’s 72?

        1. I don’t get it.

  2. Garland’s appointment was stymied by the Senate Republican leadership’s refusal to act on the nomination.

    They refused to bring his nomination to a vote, ostensibly, and probably correctly, because he would have failed the vote. That is not refusal to act.

    1. Correct—the Harriet Myers precedent. A president can nominate someone but the Senate can figuratively smack a president up side the head like Frist did to Bush in 2005.

    2. McConnell didn’t bring it to a vote because he knew Garland would be confirmed. He declared (before Scalia’s body was cold) that he would not act on any nominee.

      1. I think even if McConnell was certain Garland didn’t have the votes, he refused to bring it to the floor so his fellow Republicans didn’t have to enter a vote into the record that could be used against them in campaigns.

        1. True political courage.

      2. captcrisis : McConnell didn’t bring it to a vote because he knew Garland would be confirmed.

        Yep. People legitimately bring up Obama & Clinton’s vote to filibuster Alito. That’s fair game, but nineteen Democrats did vote to advance the nomination. That’s the way things worked until just recently : there was always a group of Senators who buck absolute party discipline to keep the process functioning. I doubt there are nineteen Republicans left willing to make a hard difficult ethical choice (on the face of the Earth, not just the floor of the Senate), but there would have been enough to advance Garland.

        McConnell knew that, which explains his weaseling & lies…..

        1. 19 Republicans in the Senate with integrity? Bwah hahaha. You could count Senate Rs with honor on one hand. Whore Graham and Whore Cruz and Whore McConnell are merely the worst of an impotent, flaccid, gutless, lot.

      3. I don’t think that’s correct. I think he refused to bring him to a vote because he (correctly) calculated that it would be politically better to not have a vote than to have to vote on the record denying the confirmation.

  3. That’ll get him out of the courts!

  4. I’m starting to get the impression that Biden may have decided to screw the progressives over. If so his administration may be less damaging than I’d anticipated, for as long as he dodges being replaced by Harris. I wouldn’t want to be his food taster.

    1. Progressives and violent protesters cost the Democrats a lot of congressional and state legislators seats in 2020. Apparently the anti-Semite congresswoman Tlaib thinks African Americans in her district support defunding the police and abolishing ICE and ending our use of fossil fuels…when actual African American congressman think the exact opposite. The Squad is an early Christmas gift to the GOP that will keep giving all year long as the Squad keeps up their nonsensical jibber jabber and tweeting. Biden will definitely be listening to the Squad but their irresponsible ranting and raving will still cost the Democrats the House in 2022 which is why Cedric Richmond is leaving the House to work in the Executive Branch.

      1. ^^^^It should say “Biden will definitely NOT be listening to the Squad”

    2. Did the Progressive Left really have a dog in the AG fight? I don’t see how a Garland nomination would be a leftist disappointment.

      But regardless, as Allutz said, he’d be an idiot to take such a shitty job…unless he really just wants to get back into the private sector in 2022.

      1. Sure, they have a dog in that fight. The AG does a lot of things that could aid the left, if the AG was willing to stretch boundaries.

        1. I’d say its one of the positions a real lefty could do the most with the least oversight.

      2. American progressives are wrong on just about every issue and most of what they advocate is actually counterproductive to implementing liberal reforms. So take FL for example—Floridians just voted 60% for a $15/he minimum wage and I guarantee you a Medicaid expansion ballot initiative would get over 60%…but in 2018 progressive won the Democratic nomination with 35% and then lost to a Trump supporting Republican in the governor’s race.

    3. He should probably have someone else start his car for him

    4. I’m starting to get the impression that Biden may have decided to screw the progressives over. If so his administration may be less damaging than I’d anticipated, for as long as he dodges being replaced by Harris.

      Any impression currently being projected by Biden and his minders is directed at winning the two Senate seats in Georgia. The options for a Biden administration, as to policy and personnel, are significantly affected by whether they can win those two seats. (Which the betting markets currently have at about a 25-30% chance, though I’d say it’s more like 50-50.)

      So wait until after 5 January and see what impressions you get then.

      1. We don’t know anything yet.

        You and Brett, and anyone thinking they’ve got support for any sort of narrative is just projecting their own worldview.

        1. In English, the way to say that is : “That’s your opinion.”

          I’m increasingly feeling that we’re diverging into two separate species, humans and Progspeakers, and in a few years the words of one will sound to the other, just as the hissing of geese.

    5. Brett Bellmore : I’m starting to get the impression that Biden may have decided to screw the progressives over.

      Oh for God’s sake, dude, stop being such a drama queen. Biden has been a moderate Democrat his entire career. He will govern exactly true to his past. Everyone on my side knew that from the very beginning. This will involve many a decision that causes you hysterical fits – which is good, proper, fine & laudable. But on the other hand, it will inevitably disappoint many on the hard-Left – those same people who also complained about Obama back in the day.

      Please remember, we have our types just like you, Brett. There are Left-wingers who prefer drama, entertainment & a President Troll “owning the other side”, over functional competent governance that does its best for people. Trump’s four years were focused on theatrics and servicing the brand, usually in potemkin village-style.
      Normalcy is the new order of the day.

  5. Look for a partisan warrior to be chosen instead. If Dems won’t use DoJ to settle political scores and protect the interests of their Silicon Valley paymasters, why bother running for office at all?

    1. That’s projection—Biden actually wants to end our national nightmare and get important things done. So Biden won’t be investigating Trump like Trump investigated Hillary. Btw, Comey and McCabe are fairly standard Bush Republicans which is why they went after Trump…so keep that in mind when George P Bush runs in a few years.

      1. Don’t look for George P Bush any time soon. Although he does hold a state-wide office in Texas as Lands Commissioner, he’s not especially well-respected, and he’s caught up in a peculiar fight over the renovation of the Alamo site museum in San Antonio. Did someone say “Food Fight!”?

        1. That is a very dangerous opinion. Do you know why Jeb spent $100 million attacking Rubio in 2015/16?? Because he wanted his son to be the most prominent Latino Republican! The fact Trump did so well among Latinos in Texas has the Bush family seeing a real path for George P to not just become governor but also be president. George P has less charisma than Jeb but his family got him a plum military job and Gates sent him to an air conditioned office in Afghanistan for a few months to give him something to hang his hat on.

          1. But who will vote for him against someone like Cruz in a primary?

            A Bush has little hope in the Republican party because the neocon wing is highly unpopular. What the base wants is a Cruz-Jib Webb hybrid. A veteran who is skeptical of intervention, but also a fighter on the culture wars, and moderate economically, but nothing should look like a handout at least on the first or second glance.

            1. The Bush family are survivors, so George P Bush endorsed Trump even after Trump ridiculed his father. Remember how evangelicals became so important in the GOP and then viola! George W Bush is an evangelical compassionate conservative?? And believe it or not W Bush was left of center because the elderly wanted a Medicare drug plan and in order to mitigate all of the job losses to China he supported welfare expansion! And there is nothing “conservative” about tax cuts that result in deficit spending.

              I hate George P Bush but he is the beneficiary of dumb luck—Phil Collins for some reason became obsessed with the Alamo and he spent millions buying collectibles and then gifted Texas his collection and so Bush’s redevelopment of the Alamo will be successful. The critics are nuts that are arguing statues can’t be moved once erected because that is their asinine argument about Confederate memorials.

            2. I just read about the Alamo redevelopment which will be just like W’s ballpark (that is already obsolete)…apparently it is in trouble of not being built!?! Dan Patrick is behind this and he must want to undermine Bush’s chances of being governor. Dan Patrick is a nut but I am rooting for him because I don’t want P to get a taxpayer funded building built and then claim he built something great like his uncle which he then uses as a springboard for higher office.

            3. Allutz : “What the base wants…..”

              Sorry to bear bad news, but the base is screwed. They want a “populist” like Trump without the buffoonery. But take away the theatrics and Trump was an empty shell. Where can you say he differed from a milquetoast Republican like Jeb?

              Maybe in trade, but Trump’s trade policy was an incoherent mess of grand gestures, actions causing more harm than good, and paper-mache “victories”. Maybe in immigration, but that’s just more of the same. He ignored his wall for two years then put the country thru turmoil with shutdowns & misappropriating Congressional funds. Why? Coulter & Limbaugh flamed him and he panicked. It was always a scam from the start.

              People talk about the contradictions in the Democratic Party, which is fair enough. But they’re nothing compared to the conflicts involved in your Frankenstein-monster perfect GOP candidate. Trump could do it (and get a bootlicking cult) because he’s a huckster clown, not in spite of it.

      2. Joe Bite Me doesn’t have a chance.

        After this fraudulent election, it’s gonna be scorched earth.
        He could nominate Ed Meese and be opposed….

  6. Nah Biteme wants a consigliere to protect him. Commie is after his job.

  7. It will be a jew. The jews are taking a hard grip. If wokeness hits too hard, Israel is gone in an instant. Look for jews crawling out of the woodwork. Biden strokes out early and the takeover is complete.

  8. “given the tumult and controversy”

    Yeah, Democrats would have totally stopped acting like babies and taken Trump by the hand and started skipping with him down to the rainbow for the next 4 years if he had just appointed X nice moderate center right candidate.

  9. Senator Doug Jones is going to need a new job and he was a US Attorney and he has rare SJW street cred for a prosecutor.

  10. well-respected on both sides of the aisle

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting to see that phrase again, until the next Republican President is sworn in.

  11. Fine, reduces Dem DC circuit active judge advantage to 6-4.

    Mitch can just keep his DC circuit seat vacant.

    1. At, optimistically, 52-48, Mitch will not have a secure majority to do anything that unreasonable, especially shortly after an election, when Senators are least responsive to voter opinion. His majority will be too dependent on marginal Senators.

      1. We’ll see. Much of that ‘marginality’ with Collins, Murkowski, and Romney is based on Team D behavior, post-election. And of course, pending the run-off results in GA.

  12. “While Republicans opposed allowing President Obama to shift the balance of the Supreme Court by replacing Justice Scalia with a liberal justice, Judge Garland is well-respected on both sides of the aisle and would likely be a relatively non-controversial Attorney General nominee.”

    Note the dissonance between the first part of this sentence (use of “liberal” is partisan cant) and the second part (“non-controversial” is the truth).

    1. Is Garland not “liberal”? Would he not have shifted the court?

      (“non-controversial” is the truth)

      Yes, for a AG appointment which is going to be filed by some “liberal” but not for a lifetime justice appointment which was in fact “controversial” and was later filled by a quasi-conservative which slanted the court, not shifted it.

      1. If Garland was truly liberal then Orrin Hatch (then chair of the Judiciary Committee) would not have singled him out as a suitable judge for Obama to nominate.

    2. I don’t think the bare labels of “liberal” and “conservative” are useful in describing federal judges and their tendencies. I prefer “mainstream” and “non-mainstream.”

      If then-Chief Judge Garland had been confirmed to the seat vacated upon Justice Scalia’s death, Bret Kavanaugh would have become chief judge of the D.C. Circuit, as the active judge next most senior. He and Judge Garland literally sat next to one another in hundreds of oral argument panels, and they voted alike an overwhelming majority of the time. Both are mainstream judges.

      But the main stream is wide, and as illustrated by the occasions on which Judges Garland and Kavanaugh disagreed with one another, Judge Garland generally kept a course close to its left bank, and Judge Kavanaugh to its right.

      Had Judge Garland been the replacement for Souter or Stevens, he, other than in an election year in which the GOP controlled the Senate, there’s no doubt he would have been confirmed, as Justices Kagan and Sotomayor were, with a handful GOP votes joining all the Dem senators. And if President-elect Biden nominates Judge Garland to be his Attorney General, he’ll be confirmed with considerably more GOP votes than he’d ever get for another judicial appointment.

      As to why he’d want it: Judge Garland, now no longer chief judge but still by choice an active-status judge, was without a doubt the 10th most powerful federal judge in the country throughout his chief judgeship. He will now never be among the top nine — realistically, his chance of being both nominated and confirmed to the SCOTUS ended during George W. Bush’s two terms, and that Obama nominated him anyway at age 62 is the clearest possible indication that his was never a serious nomination that Obama expected to see confirmed (or he’d have picked someone much younger). Although the D.C. Circuit is still the most consequential of all the circuit courts, with a Democrat in the White House its Democrat-POTUS appointees no longer have to worry about pleasing The Resistance. And as a circuit judge, he’s frankly been there and done that. But he has a genuinely good shot at becoming a genuinely transformative Attorney General, and he could render his country an incredible public service by so doing.

      I very much hope Biden appoints him. I can think of no one better, frankly, nor even close in the running.

      A final note, which I’ve made here before: The only thing that Obama, Judge Garland, the Senate Dems, or their partisans in the public were deprived of by the refusal of Sen. Grassley to hold Judiciary Committee hearings, and the refusal of Majority Leader McConnell to advance the Garland nomination to the floor for debate and, potentially, a vote, was (1) the chance to showboat and preen from inside the Judiciary Committee Hearing Room instead of in the halls outside, and (2) the chance to lose, spectacularly, the cloture vote on the filibuster that would have begun the instant his nomination went to the floor. At the time, pre-Gorsuch, Dems would have needed 60 votes to break that filibuster; their own caucus had 44 Dems and two independents, so they’d need 14 GOP crossovers to reach 60. Only four GOP senators ever even supported the notion of hearings on the nomination, and two of those recanted. So even spotting you those two, unless you can name a dozen other GOP senators from 2016 who’d have broken party discipline on a whipped vote in election year to put an Obama nominee into Scalia’s seat — thereby transforming the SCOTUS into a court dominated by its left-bank-hewing Democrat-POTUS appointees — you have no credible argument that Garland would ever have gotten a floor vote, much less confirmation. This is just second-grade arithmetic, and it was obvious to Obama and Garland both from the moment Obama first approached him: Garland was being asked to be a good soldier and take one for the team, to generate a campaign meme for 2016 that unexpectedly turned into a campaign meme for 2020 too, although in neither instance a very powerful one.

  13. Uh no. Garland is not nearly liberal enough. Trump put very right wing people in his cabinet, and thus Biden should but very liberal people. Fair is fair.

    1. Trump lost because he ran as a Jim Webb Webb Democrat but governed as a Freedumb Cockup Republican. The assclown that succeeded Mark Meadows in Congress shows just how unserious and crass the Freedumb Cockup and its voters are…and how it is really a cultural movement based on the worst and most vulgar aspects of America…basically they think being pro-life allows them to behave like the Taliban…which coincidentally the Taliban believes because they are pro-life they get to behave like the Freedumb Cockup. 😉

      1. Trump presumably lost, (The legal challenges are starting to look a bit desperate to me.) because the MSM and social media companies chose their side in our political battles, and went all in for defeating Trump. Even Fox dropped the mask this time around. (And are paying for it in collapsing ratings.)

        The good economy and other fundamentals simply couldn’t quite overcome maniacally hostile coverage.

        The US at this point has something close to the state run media in a totalitarian state, except that actual state run media will back whoever is in power, while our media back the Democrats in power and out of it.

        1. I don’t think you have a hope of understanding people who disagree with you, so long as you’re committed to a Manichean worldview in which everybody who disagrees with you does so from horrific motives.

          No, Brett. It wasn’t a conspiracy. Trump brought the whole thing on himself by his behavior.

          Whether you agree or disagree, at least try to understand that those of us who utterly despise the man have reasons, based on his behavior, his (lack of) character, his policies, his ignorance, and his dishonesty.

          Really. The press you hate so much isn’t all in against Trump. Just listen to yourself. Fox has been his ardent supporter all along. But now, they’ve “dropped the mask.” What mask? Do you really think Hannity et al secretly despised him and wanted Biden to win?

          What are you saying? That’s psychotic.

    2. Trump’s nominations were being considered by a senate in which his own party held a majority, in which the possibility of a filibuster (except for SCOTUS nominees) had already been nuked, meaning he never needed more than 50 votes plus Pence.

      That is not the situation Biden is going to confront, unless the Dems win both GA runoffs.

      “Fair” is a quaint notion that would generate guffaws among the leadership of either party’s Senate caucuses. This is about arithmetic.

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