The approach of Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court confirmation hearing serves as a poignant reminder that Gorsuch was not the first nominee for the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat. Instead, the title of original nominee goes to Judge Merrick Garland, and many are likely wondering what Garland is doing now following Senate Republicans' unprecedented refusal to even hold a confirmation hearing for the Obama-nominated judge. Instead, they sat on Garland's nomination for over a year until Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to replace Garland for the Supreme Court position. While many would understandably be very frustrated at having to endure such a politicized nomination process for the highest court in the land, Garland thankfully seems to be doing just fine and is proceeding with business as usual.
According to Buzzfeed, after giving up his docket for the duration of the Supreme Court nomination process, as is custom, Garland returned to his position as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in late January. Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit Court since 1997 and, according to Buzzfeed, is now "in rotation to be assigned to cases under the normal process." According to his biography on the Circuit Court website, in addition to his role as chief judge, Garland is also a member of Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, a nationwide body of judges that establishes court system policies.
Beyond his work in the courtroom, Garland is also an active member of the D.C. community. According to the New York Times, Garland has tutored schoolchildren at the J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Northeast D.C. for the past 20 years and is likely continuing to do so as he settles back into his post-nomination life. Furthermore, the judge seemingly has a robust community of friends, family, and colleagues in the city, who according to the Times, supported him through the drawn-out nomination process by finding "amusing ways to cheer him up," as well as welcomed him back to the D.C. bench by throwing a party in his honor.
The Times also reported that while, according to Garlands friend's, the judge was certainly disappointed by the drawn-out and eventually squelched Supreme Court nomination process, Garland has seemingly taken it in stride and returned to his professional and personal endeavors in D.C. with just as much exuberance as ever before. Indeed, Garland has never publicly commented on the thwarted nomination process and, according to those who know him, the grace and tact Garland displayed throughout the process are illustrative of why exactly he would have been a fantastic Supreme Court justice and why he will continue to be an exemplary chief judge on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
While Garland's treatment during the nomination process was certainly unfair and unfortunate, it is wonderful to see that the experience has seemingly not hampered the judge in any way and that he is continuing to thrive as an important member of the D.C. community.