A controversial federal judge and one-time Obama-era Supreme Court pick was approved by the Senate on Wednesday to become President Biden's new attorney general. 

Merrick Garland, 68, was first nominated to the federal bench in 1997 by President Bill Clinton and, until this month, served as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the key District of Columbia circuit. Approved in a 70-30 vote this week for the post of the nation's "top cop," he won over 20 Republicans in his confirmation to the job as head of the Department of Justice, almost mirroring that of Eric Holder in 2009. 

Garland's past rulings and comments on gun law helped merge opposition from pro-gun groups against the jurist, which was boosted by his evasiveness about 2A protections for lawful gun owners during his Senate hearings last month. The judge, when asked, was repeatedly "unable to offer an opinion" about universal background checks, bans on "assault weapons" and standard capacity magazines, as well as protections for the American firearm industry from frivolous lawsuits. 

“Garland has chosen to emphasize so-called ‘limitations’ of the Second Amendment and has claimed that President Biden is ‘entitled’ to pursue gun control," noted Aidan Johnston, director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America. 

Meanwhile, anti-gun groups are excited to see Garland headed to the Cabinet and are urging fast action against currently lawful firearms, products, and activities. 

“Simply put, Attorney General Merrick Garland will save lives and protect our democracy as attorney general,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We look forward to standing behind his Department of Justice as they take on the NRA, combat our deadly gun violence epidemic, and root out the armed, far-right extremists who are attacking our nation.”

Slated to join Garland at DOJ are Deputy Attorney General nominee Lisa Monaco, a former Obama-era Homeland Security adviser as his administration pushed for gun control; Associate Attorney General nominee Vanita Gupta, who has long advocated for anti-gun regulations; and Assistant Attorney General nominee Kristen Clarke, who has been a vocal supporter of universal background checks.  

Banner photo: "Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland, with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, delivers a statement after he is announced as President Obama's nominee to the United States Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 16, 2016." Via the National Archives.

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