Merrick Garland a Supreme Court Shoo-In?

By: Marisa M. Kashino

Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens will retire this summer, and one of the favorites to replace him is Judge Merrick Garland of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Unlike President Obama’s first high-court pick, Sonia Sotomayor, Garland is a Washington insider. He clerked for Justice William Brennan Jr., was a litigation partner at Arnold & Porter, and served in the Clinton administration, first as deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division, then as principal associate deputy attorney general. Clinton appointed him to the DC Circuit in 1997.

Garland is known as a moderate. “He doesn’t bring any ideological slant to how he decides a case,” says longtime friend Robert Weiner, a partner at Arnold & Porter.

Garland would fit in at One First Street—WilmerHale partner Jamie Gorelick, who was deputy attorney general while Garland served at Justice, notes that he’s friends with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.

Garland’s law clerks consistently move on to clerk at the Supreme Court, an indication that the justices value Garland’s judgment. Though most end up working for liberal members, some have landed with justices Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

And Garland has friends in the right places: Two of his former clerks now work in the Office of White House Counsel, which vets the President’s judicial nominees.

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