Merrick Garland, a centrist judge who Republicans refused a seat on the Supreme Court five years ago, has been selected by US President-elect Joe Biden to be US attorney general, US media announced Wednesday.
As a moderate democrat, Garland, a judge on the Washington federal appeals court, has a record and is not affiliated with any political party.
But Senate Republicans delayed President Barack Obama’s appointment to the high court for eight months in 2016, allowing President Donald Trump to fill the empty seat next year with a conservative-leaning justice.
Garland, 68, has had a long career as a lawyer and a federal prosecutor in the private sector.
In 1993, he was appointed deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice, handling critical national security cases such as the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings.
President Bill Clinton appointed him to the Washington Court of Appeals in 1997, and his nomination earned strong support from Democratic and Republican senators.
In 2013, he became chief judge of that court, and in March 2016, after Antonin Scalia passed away, Obama was chosen to fill a seat on the Supreme Court.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell declined to bring Garland’s candidacy to a vote in a break from tradition, gambling that in the November election a Republican could win the presidency and then a conservative could be nominated.
That set the stage over the past four years for Trump’s historic choice of three high court justices, tilting it decidedly to the right.
A year ago, Garland stepped down as the appeals court chief, but kept on as a judge.
The Senate, which is supposed to fall under narrow Democratic Party rule, is likely to easily pass his appointment as attorney general. He’s also likely to garner Republican support.
Biden is also reportedly preparing to nominate Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, a former Obama administration homeland security adviser and veteran prosecutor.
Furthermore, media reports suggest Biden will nominate Brett McGurk, the former US envoy to the Islamic State’s global coalition battle party, as director of the White House National Security Council for the Middle East and Africa.