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7 Things Merrick Garland Told the Senate About Himself

He was a Dukakis volunteer, the top 'Unabomber' prosecutor and wrote a theater review

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland led the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski, (R-top), the convicted killer known as the Unabomber. (Rich Pedroncelli/AFP/Getty Images)
Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland led the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski, (R-top), the convicted killer known as the Unabomber. (Rich Pedroncelli/AFP/Getty Images)

The questionnaire that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland submitted Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee is full of the standard biographical information, such as a list of the most significant legal matters he has handled.  

But the 
142-page document
 also contains interesting nuggets about the life of the federal appeals court judge whom President Barack Obama picked to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  

Here are the some of the highlights from the filing:

Late call


The White House didn’t reach out to Garland about the Supreme Court nomination until Feb. 29 — more than two weeks after Scalia died on Feb. 13 on a hunting trip in Texas.  

Garland said it was White House Counsel Neil Eggleston and White House senior adviser Brian Deese who first reached out to see if he was willing to be considered. After that, it was contact with a flurry of White house advisers until he met with Eggleston and other administration officials on March 4.  

Obama interviewed Garland on March 9, and five days later on March 14,  “the president called to say that he intended to nominate me to the Supreme Court,” Garland wrote.  

Obama wouldn’t make the appointment public for two more days, until a March 16 announcement in the Rose Garden.

Democratic campaigns 


The questionnaire required Garland to list his role in political campaigns. He indicated that he stopped such activities after 1992, when he joined the Justice Department as a deputy assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration.  

WESTWOOD, CA - MARCH 12: Former Presidential canidate Michael Dukakis speaks at the HBO Documentary Films Premiere of ''Addiction'' at the Hammer Museum on March 12, 2007 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
Former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

“I was a volunteer for presidential candidates William J. Clinton in October 1992, Michael Dukakis in October 1988, and Walter Mondale in 1983-84,” Garland wrote. “As a student, I worked parts of two summers in 1972 and 1974 for the campaign of Representative Abner Mikva in my congressional district.”

Terror cases


Garland listed the prosecutions of the Unabomber in 1996 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 among the “ten most significant litigated matters” which he personally handled.  

“I was the supervising attorney for the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski, the ‘Unabomber,’ until I became a Circuit Judge,” Garland wrote.  

Garland also mentioned his anti-terrorism efforts in a section about his appearances before Congress.  

“In addition, I met with Members of Congress and staff to discuss security preparations for the Salt Lake City Olympics in the fall of 1996, and to discuss the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in the summer of 1996,” Garland wrote. “I do not have statements or notes.”

Significant opinions


The questionnaire asks Garland to list his 10 “most significant opinions you have written,” and it includes a cross-section of the types of cases he sees on the D.C. Circuit.  

Among them, Garland listed two Freedom of Information Act cases, a campaign finance case, one Guantanamo Bay detainee case, and two civil rights cases. He wrote the unanimous en banc decision in 2015 in Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, which upheld the constitutionality of a law that prohibits federal government contractors from making federal election contributions.  

Garland wrote the unanimous opinion on a FOIA request for Central Intelligence Agency records pertaining to drone strikes. The CIA refused to confirm or deny that it had such records, but the D.C. Circuit said the CIA could disclose whether it had drone strike records without revealing anything not already officially acknowledged in public statements by a number of high-level government officials.

Perfect record


Garland had a simple answer when asked to provide a brief summary for opinions he wrote that were later reversed.  

“None of the opinions I have authored has been reversed, either by the Supreme Court of the United States or by the District of Columbia Circuit sitting en banc,” Garland wrote.  

The only blemish: His opinion in one criminal sentencing case from 2004, United States v. Thomas, was vacated and remanded back to the D.C. Circuit in light of a Supreme Court decision in another case on the same issue.  

Garland was, however, on the panel but did not write six opinions that were either reversed or vacated by the Supreme Court.

Pro bono


Courtesy of J.O. Wilson school Facebook page.

Garland has driven to J.O. Wilson Elementary School in the District twice a month to tutor second- through fifth-grade students in reading and math. He represented an African-American stenographer in a claim of racial discrimination against her employer, the House of Representatives.  

“In addition, while I was at Arnold & Porter in the 1980s, a young man who worked as a photocopier operator at the firm asked me to help him with his writing,” Garland wrote. “I worked with and mentored him over many years, both while I was in private practice and in the government, from the time we met through his successful graduation from law school and entry into the legal profession.”

Risqué review


The questionnaire requires judicial nominees to list published writings and public statements — and that prompted Garland to list a 

 from his undergraduate days at Harvard with an eyebrow raising title.  

Garland authored, “The Homecoming: Whores Pimps and Kindly Old Men,” in The Harvard Crimson on Feb. 15, 1972, about a performance at the Boston Center for the Arts. The opening act of the Harold Pinter drama seems typical, Garland wrote, but plays with the audiences’ demand “that everyone fit in a well-known category: The whore, the kindly old man, the pimp, the vain and stupid boxer (Joey) — and Pinter shoots it all out from under us as soon as we think we know who’s who.”  

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