Judge Merrick Garland: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court Page: 2 of 81
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Judge Merrick Garland: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court
On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme
Court created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Judge Garland was
appointed to the D.C. Circuit by President Clinton in 1997, and is currently its chief judge, an
administrative position that rotates among the active judges on the circuit. Prior to his
appointment to the bench, Judge Garland served in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department
of Justice, where he notably oversaw the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing case,
as well as other cases. It remains to be seen whether or how the Senate might proceed in
considering Judge Garland's nomination; however, the nomination remains effective until it is
withdrawn or this term of Congress ends, whichever occurs first.
This report provides an overview of Judge Garland's jurisprudence and discusses what the impact
on the Court might be if he, or a judge of a similar judicial approach, were to be confirmed to
succeed Justice Scalia. In particular, the report focuses upon those areas of law where Justice
Scalia can be seen to have influenced the High Court's approach to certain issues, or served as a
fifth and deciding vote on the Court, with a view toward how Judge Garland might approach
those same issues if he were to be confirmed. The report begins with his views on two
overarching issues-the role of the judiciary and statutory interpretation. It then addresses 14
separate areas of law, which are arranged in alphabetical order from "administrative law" to
"takings." The report includes one table which notes the cases where the Supreme Court has
reviewed majority opinions written or joined by Judge Garland. Another table, in the appendix to
the report, identifies Judge Garland's colleagues on the D.C. Circuit and lists notable cases
involving Judge Garland and that colleague. A separate report is forthcoming that will list all
opinions authored by Judge Garland during his tenure on the D.C. Circuit.
Other CRS products discuss various issues related to the vacancy on the Supreme Court. For an
overview of available products, see CRS Legal Sidebar WSLG1526, Vacancy on the Supreme
Court: CRS Products, by Kate M. Manuel and Andrew Nolan.
Congressional Research Service
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Nolan, Andrew; Manuel, Kate M. & Murrill, Brandon J. Judge Merrick Garland: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court, report, April 27, 2016; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc855856/m1/2/: accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.