Senate

Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as ‘sound choice’ to serve as attorney general

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who in 2016 supported a decision to block D.C. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland from getting a hearing to serve on the Supreme Court, on Wednesday praised him as a “sound choice” to serve as the next attorney general.

“If media reports are accurate, I believe Judge Garland would be a sound choice to be the next Attorney General. He is a man of great character, integrity, and tremendous competency in the law,” Graham tweeted after it was reported that President-elect Joe Biden would tap Garland to serve as the nation’s chief law enforcement official.

The statement is notable coming from Graham, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress and came under criticism for speedily moving the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barret, who was nominated by President Trump, to serve on the Supreme Court after supporting the decision to block Garland’s nomination to the high court during the 2016 presidential election.

Graham praised Garland in 2016 after then-President Obama nominated him to fill the vacancy created by the death of late Justice Antonin Scalia, but said the winner of the election should appoint Scalia’s successor.

“My view is that the next president should decide,” Graham said after meeting with Garland in April of 2016. “And it’s nothing against him personally. I think he’s a very capable, honest judge.”

Graham took heat last year for spearheading the swift confirmation of Barrett after proclaiming four years earlier that a Supreme Court seat should not be filled in a presidential election year.

“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,’ ” Graham said in 2016, prompting charges of flip-flopping after he chaired Barrett’s confirmation hearings less than a month after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

Confirming Garland to serve as attorney general would open up a vacancy on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is viewed as the second-most-powerful court in the country.

Garland’s departure from the appellate court is more palatable for Democrats now that they are expected to control the White House and Senate in 2021, giving them an opportunity to confirm Biden’s preferred choice to next serve on the D.C. Circuit.

Tags Biden attorney general Biden cabinet Biden transition Donald Trump Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Merrick Garland Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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