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Biden confirms Merrick Garland as pick for US attorney general

US President-elect to hold event Thursday introducing the judge, whose 2016 nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Senate Republicans

Then US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland waits for a meeting with US Senator Benjamin Cardin on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 28, 2016. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
Then US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland waits for a meeting with US Senator Benjamin Cardin on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 28, 2016. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

WASHINGTON — US President-elect Joe Biden confirmed on Thursday he will nominate Merrick Garland — a centrist judge that Republicans denied a seat on the Supreme Court five years ago — to be US attorney general.

Garland, a judge on the Washington federal appeals court, has a record as a moderate liberal and is not aligned with either political party.

But Senate Republicans blocked his nomination to the high court by then president Barack Obama for eight months in 2016, which allowed US President Donald Trump to fill the vacant seat with a conservative-leaning justice the next year.

Biden will introduce Garland and other key picks for the Justice Department on Thursday, said a statement from the president-elect’s transition team.

Judge Merrick Garland (R) speaks alongside then US Vice President Joe Biden (L) in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, March 16, 2016. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP)

Garland, 68, has had a long career as a private sector lawyer and a federal prosecutor.

In 1993, he was named deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice, handling important national security cases including the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings.

In 1997, president Bill Clinton named him to the Washington appeals court, and he received broad support from Democratic and Republican senators in his confirmation.

He became chief judge of that court in 2013 and, in March 2016, was picked by Obama to fill a seat on the Supreme Court after Antonin Scalia died, though that attempt was unsuccessful.

His nomination as attorney general is likely to easily pass the Senate, which is to come under narrow Democratic Party control. He is likely to garner Republican support as well.

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