Attorney General Merrick Garland

To the disappointment of some, President-Elect Joseph Biden has nominated Judge Merrick Garland for United States Attorney General. That’s not what the Rev. Al Sharpton wanted to hear. He and other NAACP members have voiced strong opinions on the matter and were pushing for a black Attorney General, preferably someone with a civil rights background. After a meeting with the President-Elect, Sharpton held a news conference and stated as much. He was hoping for someone like the chief legal officer of Uber, Tony West, or Deval Patrick, Massachusetts’s former governor.

Al Sharpton wants Garland to meet with civil rights leaders to discuss police reform and voting rights issues. Judge Garland’s spotty record on these issues is a matter of concern for Rev. Sharpton, who also wants President-Elect Biden to name a White House civil rights czar.

Merrick Garland does have a lengthy history of judicial service. From 1989 to 1992, he was an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. He then served in the Justice Department’s criminal division from 1993 to 1994 as deputy assistant attorney general.

Garland later oversaw the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing investigation, where hundreds were hurt, and 160 perished. He was also in charge of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing investigation when over 100 were injured, and two died. Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. ‘The Unabomber’ was another of Judge Garland’s charges. Kaczynski received eight life sentences for his crimes involving mail bombings, which resulted in three deaths and over 20 hurt.

In 1997 President Bill Clinton appointed Mr. Garland to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which concentrates its time on administrative review challenges. He reached the chief judge’s rank before stepping down in February 2020 but continued as a judge.

Garland was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by former President Obama following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held up the confirmation process and wouldn’t hold hearings or schedule a vote. The nomination expired with the election of President Donald Trump.

President-elect Biden wants someone in office who will not let partisan politics cloud their judgment. Perhaps that’s due to revelations that Biden’s son Hunter is under federal investigation for business and tax matters. Joe Biden wants a non-political impartial investigation, and Judge Garland meets the profile.

There was a delay in the disclosure process due to the Georgia Senate races now concluded. Some were worried that nominating Merrick Garland would create a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals that would stay vacant due to Republican meddling. But now that the Senate is poised to switch to Democratic control, the prospect of delayed confirmations has diminished.

Garland was in the running along with Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, and Doug Jones, the former Alabama Senator. Lisa Monaco, a homeland security adviser to President Obama, will become the deputy attorney general. Vanita Gupta will serve as associate attorney general, and Kristen Clarke will take on the role of assistant attorney general for civil rights. Mr. Garland was a leading contender, however, and stopped hearing cases in preparation for the nomination.

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