Merrick Garland

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As my parents taught me by both words and deeds, a life of public service is as much a gift to the person who serves as it is to those he is serving.

Merrick Brian Garland (born November 13, 1952) is an American attorney and jurist serving as the 86th United States attorney general since March 2021. He served as a United States circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1997 to 2021.

After serving as a law clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice William J. Brennan Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States, he practiced corporate litigation at Arnold & Porter and worked as a federal prosecutor in the United States Department of Justice, where he played a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, nominated Garland to serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Court in March 2016 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. However, the Republican Senate majority refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination.

Quotes[edit]

Note: All quotes have secondary sources where they were excerpted and then re-cited by subsequent sources.

  • This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the United States is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear. If it prevails, it may become a model for action, in other areas, by other states and with respect to other constitutional rights and judicial precedents
  • The extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter. This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to independence and accountability.

Confirmation hearing on nomination to United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1995)[edit]

The role of the court is to apply law to the facts of the case before it … not to legislate, not to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinion on the issues of the day.
  • The constitution sets all three branches out as co-equal. The obligation of the judicial branch — as far back as the decision in Marbury v. Madison — is to review the constitutionality and legality of actions by the other branches. And that is its only job, to decide cases and controversies in front of it under article three.
    • Merrick Garland (December 1, 1995). "Confirmation hearing on nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". United States Senate. ; quote excerpted in:
  • Well, of course I have great personal affection for the justice for whom I clerked, Justice Brennan.
    • Merrick Garland (December 1, 1995). "Confirmation hearing on nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". United States Senate. ; quote excerpted in:
  • I would say the one for which — the most admiration, is the one I just mentioned, Justice John Marshall, Chief Justice John Marshall who decided Marbury v. Madison and so deciding established that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.
    • Merrick Garland (December 1, 1995). "Confirmation hearing on nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". United States Senate. ; quote excerpted in:
  • Everybody, I think, who hopes to become a judge would aspire to be able to write as well as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. 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.
    • Merrick Garland (December 1, 1995). "Confirmation hearing on nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". United States Senate. ; quote excerpted in:
  • The great joy of being a prosecutor is that you don’t take whatever case walks in the door. You evaluate the case, you make your best judgement, you only go forward if you believe that the defendant is guilty. You may well be wrong, but you have done your best to ensure that as far as the evidence that you are able to attain, the person is guilty. It is the kind of even-handed balancing that a judge should undertake although of course a judge has the advantage of having somebody speak for the other side.
    • Merrick Garland (December 1, 1995). "Confirmation hearing on nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". United States Senate. ; quote excerpted in:
  • I think there is no greater job anybody can have than having been a prosecutor.
    • Merrick Garland (December 1, 1995). "Confirmation hearing on nomination of Merrick Garland to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". United States Senate. ; quote excerpted in:

Court opinions and media comments[edit]

DC Circuit Court Judge Panel, JRCLS International Law Conference (2013)[edit]

  • They tell you in Washington, that if you want a friend get a dog. Harry Truman said that. That is not true. Get a family. This is a hard place to be. No matter how much honor you have, people will attack you one way or the other. And the principle solace that you get is from your family. Because they’re behind you no matter what happens. So never forget about that. Whatever interests you have in your career, you have to balance it with a deep relationship with your family.
  • For myself the balance came from always driving my children to school. So that every day we had that first half-hour, 45 minutes of nothing but uninterrupted time. Sometimes it was just a bunch of sarcasm. Sometimes it was just listening to the radio. But sometimes it was real explanation of what the kids were thinking what they were worried about.
  • The most important thing that a clerk can do for a judge, I tell my clerks, is to prevent me from jumping off the cliff if I don’t want to. That is, sometimes I don’t realize there’s a cliff there at all, that the implications of what I’m doing are really totally wrong, and that sometimes it takes another person or two other people to warn me that you’re just not reading this case correctly, or you’re just not understanding the implications of what a decision in this way would be.”

Remarks by Judge Garland upon nomination to Supreme Court of the United States (2016)[edit]

Trust that justice will be done in our courts without prejudice or partisanship is what, in a large part, distinguishes this country from others.

Remarks on the First Anniversary of the Attack on the Capitol (2022)[edit]

Remarks on the First Anniversary of the Attack on the Capitol (5 January 2022) · C-SPAN video
  • As we begin a new year — and as we prepare to mark a solemn anniversary tomorrow – it is a fitting time to reaffirm that we at the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy.
    We will defend our democratic institutions from attack.
    We will protect those who serve the public from violence and threats of violence.
    We will protect the cornerstone of our democracy: the right to every eligible citizen to cast a vote that counts.
    And we will do all of this in a manner that adheres to the rule of law and honors our obligation to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of everyone in this country.
  • The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.
    Because January 6th was an unprecedented attack on the seat of our democracy, we understand that there is broad public interest in our investigation. We understand that there are questions about how long the investigation will take, and about what exactly we are doing.
    Our answer is, and will continue to be, the same answer we would give with respect to any ongoing investigation: as long as it takes and whatever it takes for justice to be done — consistent with the facts and the law.

Remarks on the search of Donald Trump's mansion (2022)[edit]

Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.
Attorney General Merrick Garland Delivers Remarks (11 August 2022)
Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations.
  • Since I became attorney general, I have made clear that the Department of Justice will speak through its court filings and its work.
    Just now, the Justice Department has filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida to unseal a search warrant and property receipt relating to a court approved search that the FBI conducted earlier this week. That search was a premises located in Florida, belonging to the former president. The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search.
    The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening, as is his right. Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president's counsel, who was on site during the search.
    The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner. The department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former president's public confirmation with the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter.
  • Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.
    All Americans are entitled to the even handed application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence. Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations.
    Federal law, long standing department rules and our ethical obligations prevent me from providing further details as to the basis of the search at this time. There are however, certain points I want you to know.
    First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter. Second, the department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.
    Third, let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked.
    The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants. Every day, they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them.
    This is all I can say right now. More information will be made available in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time.

Quotes about Garland[edit]

Mr. Garland seems to be well qualified and would probably make a good judge -- in some other court. — Chuck Grassley
  • MADDOW: Do you have confidence in the Attorney General Garland`s judgment, and to his commitments, to finding a way to meeting the challenge this lawsuit
  • TRIBE: Very much. I`ve known him for years. He was my student. I know a lot of people would like him to move more quickly. I get impatient myself sometimes, and I haven`t been easy on him.
  • I have very high regard for his intellect and his decency.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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