After winning the White House, the Republicans occupied Scalia’s previous seat with Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017. McConnell has described his decision to block Garland as “the most consistent thing I’ve ever done.”
Senate Republicans have claimed that their decision to keep Garland from a hearing in 2016 was not personal. And during the Trump administration, McConnell recommended Garland headed the FBI.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a two-day confirmation hearing this week for Garland. Several Republicans have already announced their support for running the Justice Department, including Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) And John Cornyn (R-Texas), a McConnell confidante. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also spoke favorably of Garland on Monday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Garland’s nomination on March 1 and Dick Durbin, the Senate majority whip, said he was hoping for final confirmation next week.
Garland is currently a judge on the DC Circuit’s powerful appeals court, where he also served as chief judge. Prior to joining the Bundesbank, Garland worked at the US Department of Justice, where he played a key role in overseeing the criminal investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.