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Garland returns to bench as judge: report

Garland returns to bench as judge: report
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Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who failed to receive a hearing, has returned to his former role as a federal appeals court judge, according to a new report.

Garland, the chief judge of the District of Columbia Circuit, began hearing new cases in his former courtroom Wednesday, The Associated Press said.

No one mentioned that Garland’s appearance was his first back on the bench in 11 months, according to the AP. 

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Garland was one of three judges hearing cases Wednesday, with arguments lasting nearly three hours.

Judge Sri Srinivasan, who was appointed by Obama in 2013 and was floated as a possible Supreme Court nominee for a Democratic president, was another. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2006, was the third.

Kavanaugh has been floated as a potential Supreme Court nominee for a Republican president, the AP said, but he does not appear on President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE’s list of 21 candidates.

About three dozen people watched Wednesday’s proceedings, with one lawyer present having loose ties to Garland’s unsuccessful nomination.

Eugene Scalia is one of former Justice Antonin Scalia’s nine children, the AP noted, and represents one of the parties being heard by the court.

Obama nominated Garland for Scalia’s vacant Supreme Court seat in May, following the former justice’s unexpected death in February.

Republicans successfully thwarted Garland's nomination, however, insisting that Obama should not appoint a new justice in the final year of his presidency.

Scalia’s death has left the Supreme Court evenly split ideologically, with four conservatives and four liberals sometimes deadlocking on issues.

Trump has vowed to appoint a conservative like Scalia after his inauguration this Friday. The president-elect reportedly met with Judge William Pryor, a leading candidate for the role, last Saturday.

Pryor, who is on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, is also a former Alabama attorney general who is admired by several top conservatives.