A Chicago native, Merrick Garland was appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court in 1995 to replace a longtime Windy City mentor of President Obama's, Abner Mikva. His nomination was held up for two years by Senate Republicans over mostly technical issues. Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican committee chair at the time, called Garland a "good nominee." And since arriving on the bench, he has proved to be anything but controversial as a justice. Ed Whelan, a former Bush Justice Department official and adviser to Senate Republicans on judicial issues, calls Merrick "the best that conservatives could reasonably hope for from a Democratic President."
A rare white male on Obama's short list, Merrick is without a doubt the insider choice in Washington, a friend to both Republicans and Democrats with a clean record. He previously served as a top Justice Department official in the Clinton Administration, overseeing the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing case. Garland is also familiar with the Chief Justice, John Roberts, with whom he clerked as a young man and served as an appellate judge.