Obama's Supreme Court pick: 10 things you need to know about centrist judge Merrick Garland

Like President Obama, Merrick Garland, 63, is from Chicago and attended Harvard Law school

Published March 16, 2016 3:23PM (EDT)

Merrick B. Garland   (Reuters)
Merrick B. Garland (Reuters)

Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court on Wednesday by President Barack Obama, to fill the seat vacated by the death of Judge Antonin Scalia.

The centrist Garland is respected by both Democrats and Republicans, which Obama hopes will be enough for the Senate will consider his SCOTUS nomination. Republicans have previously said that they would refuse to approve anyone suggested by the president.

Here are 10 facts you need to know about Merrick Garland:

  1. Judge Garland was appointed to the DC Circuit in 1997 by President Bill Clinton.
  2. At age 63, Garland is the oldest person nominated for the Supreme Court since President Nixon appointed Justice Lewis Powell in 1971.
  3. Like President Obama, Garland is from Chicago and attended Harvard Law school where he graduated with high honors.
  4. Garland is a centrist. In 2003, he held that the federal judiciary lacks authority, “to assert habeas corpus jurisdiction at the behest of an alien held at a military base leased from another nation.” Effectively prohibiting Guantanamo detainees from presenting themselves in civilian court. (The Supreme Court later reversed this decision in Rasul v. Bush.)
  5. Judge Garland is relatively conservative towards criminal justice cases. According to SCOTUSBlog’s Thomas Goldstein, “Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants’ appeals of their convictions.” There have been only eight such cases in the 13 years Garland has spent as federal judge.
  6. Judge Garland is fairly strict on gun laws. In D.C. Garland formed a decision, which restricted gun ownership for those seeking handguns for self-defense.
  7. The Oklahoma City bombing case in 1995 helped shape Judge Garland’s career. He coordinated the Justice Department’s response and began the case against the bombers. Garland even visited the scene as bodies were still being pulled out of the rubble.
  8. It is not the first time Garland has been considered for the Supreme Court. In 2010 Garland was a possible pick to replace the retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, however President Obama instead chose Justice Elena Kagan.
  9. Merrick Garland and his wife Lynn Rosenman Garland have been married since 1987. Lynn Garland’s grandfather was Samuel Rosenman, a New York State Supreme Court justice, who served as a counsel to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
  10. Lynn and Merrick Garland have two daughters, Rebecca, 25, and Jessica, 23 who both graduated from Yale University.


By Antoaneta Roussi

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