President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 22 and 23 for his confirmation hearing.
The dates were announced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, who said in a joint news release that the committee will vote to advance Garland’s nomination on March 1.
Biden had tapped Garland for the post last month. Though a confluence of factors drove the decision, people familiar with the matter say it largely rested on Biden’s belief that Garland can rise above politics in the post-Trump era.
“The Attorney General oversees a host of Department of Justice components and agencies that are vital to protecting our homeland from foreign and domestic threats. Judge Garland’s confirmation is particularly urgent in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection,” Durbin said in a statement announcing the confirmation hearing.
Garland, he said, “will serve the Justice Department and our country with honor and integrity. He is a consensus pick who should be confirmed swiftly on his merits.”
Grassley, meanwhile, said: “Given the significance of this role, I’ve agreed to convening a hearing inside of the customary 28 days that the committee typically takes to conduct a pre-hearing review of the nominee’s paperwork.”
“We also expect to accelerate the post-hearing committee markup. Given these accommodations, I expect a thorough review of Judge Garland’s qualifications as well as swift and transparent responses going forward.”
Former President Barack Obama had nominated Garland to the Supreme Court after a vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. But Republicans, led by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused for months to hold confirmation hearings or the required vote in the chamber.
When former President Donald Trump took office, Garland’s nomination expired and he returned to his position as chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The court is charged with reviewing challenges to administrative agencies. He stepped down from the position as chief judge in February 2020, but still serves on the court. Former President Bill Clinton had appointed him to the court in 1997.
Prior to his appointment as a US circuit judge, Garland served as principal associate deputy attorney general. He supervised the investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed more than 160 people and injured several hundred more. Garland also led the investigations of the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta, in which two people died and more than 100 others were injured.
Additionally, the judge served as an assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department from 1993 to 1994.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Kate Sullivan and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.