Biden taps Merrick Garland as attorney general, names key economic team members

In 2016, the Senate's Republican majority blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court by refusing to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
1 of 2 | In 2016, the Senate's Republican majority blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court by refusing to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general as well as several other Democrats to his economic and jobs team, including Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as labor secretary.

Biden called the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday "one of the darkest days" in U.S. history, CNN reported, and said Garland, among others he selected for his justice team Thursday, provided hope.


"This is a team that will restore your faith in our institution's democracy," Biden said.

Garland similarly emphasized that this is a "critical time."

"I have loved being a judge, but to serve as attorney general at this critical time ... is a calling I am honored and eager to answer. As everyone who watched yesterday's event in Washington, D.C., understands, if they didn't understand before, the rule of law isn't about just some lawyer's turn of phrase, it is the essence of our democracy," Garland said.


Garland also said he would make it his mission to reaffirm principles, such as "ensuring the rule of law" and "equal justice under the law," if confirmed by the Senate.

There should not be "one rule for friends, another rule for foes," or "one rule for the rich, another for the poor," or "depending on one's race or ethnicity," Garland said. "Equal justice under law means all citizens are protected in exercising their civil rights."

Garland added that these are "great principles under which the department was founded and for which it must always stand."

Currently, Garland serves as U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

He graduated from Harvard University and worked as a law clerk before practicing corporate litigation at Arnold & Porter and working as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a lead role in the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers.

Garland is married with children and thanked his family upon his selection to the post.

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama had nominated him to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia died, but the Senate's Republican majority refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination.


Biden's selection of Garland for the post follows Democrats taking control of the Senate with Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock winning runoff races in Georgia, and Congress' early morning confirmation of Biden's win prolonged by the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Some of President Donald Trump's supporters had breached the Capitol to dispute election results.

Garland was seen as a top contender for the post, but concerns about the vacancy his selection would create on the U.S. Court of Appeals had raised concerns that Senate Republicans would block any nomination to that seat.

Biden also selected other nominees for the Justice Department Thursday, including Lisa Monaco, who served as assistant attorney general for national security in the Obama administration, as his nominee for deputy attorney general.

The president-elect also announced Vanita Gupta, a former acting assistant attorney general in the Obama administration, as his nominee for associate attorney general.

Biden also introduced Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to be the nation's nineteenth assistant attorney general for civil rights.

The president-elect also named additional members to his economic and jobs team Thursday to aid his administration with his so-called build back better agenda that aims to bolster a U.S. economy that has been hobbled by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


"This team will help us emerge from the most inequitable economic and jobs crisis in modern history by building an economy where every American is in on the deal," Biden said in a statement. "They share my belief that the middle class built this country and that unions built the middle class."

Raimondo became the first woman to govern the Ocean State when she was elected in 2014, and if confirmed she will be taking over the massive Commerce Department that has been apart of the Trump administration's arsenal in its fight to prevent Chinese technology from entering the United States.

Currently in quarantine for the second time in a month after coming into close contact with a COVID-19 case, she tweeted Thursday that in the new position she will continue to fight for her state.

"Rhode Island may be small, but our economy is mighty on the strength of our small businesses and innovative technologies," she said. "As secretary of commerce, I will harness that same American ingenuity to create good-paying union jobs and build our economy back better than ever before."

The Biden-Harris transition team said Raimondo will play a key role in positioning the United States as an exporter of "21st century products" and a leader in clean energy economy.


Biden also nominated Walsh as secretary of labor, and if confirmed he would become the first union member to serve in the role in nearly 50 years.

"Mayor Walsh has worked tirelessly to rebuild the middle class, create a more inclusive, resilient economy and fight for workers in his hometown -- including fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave," the transition team said.

Elizabeth Warren, a former presidential candidate in the 2020 presidential election and current senator for Massachusetts, congratulated Walsh via Twitter, calling him "a champion for America's labor unions and a fierce fighter for working families."

"I am delighted that President-elect Biden has chosen Marty as our next [labor] secretary to make our government work for working people," she said.

Following the announcement, Walsh, who earlier Thursday called for Trump to be removed from office, described workers labor unions and the middle class "the backbone" of the U.S. economy and the country.

"As secretary of labor, I'll work just as hard for you as you do for your families and livelihoods," he said in a statement. "You have my word."

Biden also nominated Isabel Guzman to serve as the Small Business administrator and Don Graves as deputy secretary of Commerce.


the president-elect said those he nominated Thursday for his economic and jobs team understand how states, cities, small towns and tribal communities work with labor, entrepreneurs and businesses "to get things done for American workers."

"They will work tirelessly to ensure every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead, and that our businesses can thrive and outcompete the rest of the world," Biden said. "They will be ready on day one."

Meet President Joe Biden's top adviser picks

Marcia Fudge
Housing and Urban Development Secretary. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (L) looks on as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Fudge, the first Black woman to lead the department in decades, speaks at a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

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