Merrick B. Garland

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Merrick Garland
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Assumed office
February 12, 2013
Preceded by David Sentelle
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Assumed office
March 20, 1997
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Abner Mikva
Personal details
Born (1952-11-13) November 13, 1952 (age 63)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B., 1974)
Harvard Law School (J.D., 1977)

Merrick Brian Garland (born November 13, 1952) is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was widely seen as a leading contender for a nomination to the Supreme Court in the Obama administration following the announced retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.[1][2][3]

Early life, education and legal training[edit]

Garland was born in Chicago, Illinois. His mother, Shirley, was a director of volunteer services, and his father, Cyril Garland, headed Garland Advertising in Chicago.[4] Garland grew up in Lincolnwood, Illinois, graduated eighth grade from Lincoln Hall Middle School, and graduated high-school from Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in 1970. He was named one of 119 members of the Presidential Scholars Program by the Commission on Presidential Scholars, and he came with that group to the White House on June 4, 1970 to listen to a special address in the East Room of the White House to the group by President Richard Nixon. Garland also was named a National Merit Scholar.[5][6]

Garland graduated first in his class from Harvard College with an A.B. summa cum laude in Social Studies in 1974 and then graduated from Harvard Law School with a J.D. magna cum laude in 1977. During law school, Garland was a member of the Harvard Law Review and served as articles editor from 1976 to 1977.[7] Following graduation, he clerked for Judge Henry Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1977 to 1978, and then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. from 1978 to 1979.

Professional career[edit]

Garland was Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States from 1979 to 1981. He then joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he was a partner from 1985 to 1989 and from 1992 to 1993. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1993 to 1994. From 1994 until his appointment as U.S. Circuit Judge, Judge Garland served as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, where his responsibilities included the supervision of the Oklahoma City bombing and UNABOM prosecutions. One of Garland's mentors, according to a July 6, 1995 Los Angeles Times article, was then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick.

Garland has taught antitrust law at Harvard Law School and has served as co-chair of the administrative law section of the District of Columbia Bar.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On September 6, 1995, President Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the D.C. Circuit seat vacated by Abner J. Mikva.

Garland received a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on December 1, 1995.[8] However, his nomination languished under the Republican-controlled Senate until after the 1996 election. At the time of his nomination, many Republican senators cited as their reason for objecting to his nomination the fact that they did not believe that the D.C. Circuit needed an additional judge.[citation needed]

After winning the 1996 presidential election, Clinton renominated Garland on January 7, 1997.[9] Garland was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 19, 1997 in a 76-23 vote and received his commission on March 20.[10] He became Chief Judge on February 12, 2013.

Judicial philosophy[edit]

Considered a judicial moderate, Garland told senators during his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 1995 that the U.S. Supreme Court justice for whom he had the greatest admiration was Chief Justice John Marshall, and that he had personal affection for the justice for whom he clerked, Justice William Brennan. "Everybody, I think, who hopes to become a judge would aspire to be able to write as well as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes," Garland told the committee at that time. "None are going to be able to attain that. But I'll try at least—if confirmed—to be as brief and pithy as he is."[citation needed]

Hufaiza Parhat v. Gates[edit]

On June 23, 2008 it was announced that a three judge panel of the D.C. circuit, made up of David B. Sentelle, Garland, and Thomas B. Griffith, overturned the determination of Hufaiza Parhat's Combatant Status Review Tribunal.[11] Parhat's was the first case to be ruled on since the Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush. However, the ruling was made under a section of the Detainee Treatment Act.


Garland and his wife, Lynn, have been married since 1987. Lynn Garland's grandfather, Samuel Irving Rosenman, was a justice of the New York Supreme Court (a trial-level court of general jurisdiction rather than an appellate court) and a special counsel to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.[12] He has two daughters. His elder daughter is a senior at Yale University and his younger daughter is a sophomore at Yale University.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


Legal offices
Preceded by
Abner Mikva
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Preceded by
David Sentelle
Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit