President-elect Joe Biden has decided to nominate Judge Merrick Garland for attorney general, seeking to place in the nation's top law enforcement job a respected federal appeals judge whose Supreme Court nomination Republicans blocked four years ago, Politico first reported.
Why it matters: News of the announcement came just hours after the nation learned that Democrats would likely win both Senate runoffs in Georgia and take control of the Senate, making it harder for Republicans to block nominations.
- That applies not just the attorney general nominee himself, but also whomever Biden nominates to replace Garland as an appellant judge in a crucial circuit.
Between the lines: By selecting Garland, Biden is sending a message about fairness and redemption, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied hearings to President Obama's pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
- It's unclear whether McConnell and his fellow Republicans will fight this nomination.
- Speculation and jockeying for AG also focused around other contenders, including former Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.
Background: Garland, 68, is a Chicago native and graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
- He has served on United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997.
- Before that, he supervised high-profile cases of domestic terrorism including the Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber cases in the 1990s. It's experience he could be called to draw on following a Department of Homeland Security assessment this year that violent while supremacy is the most persistent lethal domestic threat.
- McConnell never explicitly said he opposed Garland's appointment to the Supreme Court, only that Democrats should not get to fill the seat in the final year of Obama's presidency when Republicans controlled the Senate.
- This fall, McConnell again frustrated Democrats when he maneuvered to let President Trump fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat with Amy Coney Barrett.