Merrick Garland ’77—President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court—has been very much involved in the life of Harvard Law School since receiving his degree from HLS nearly four decades ago.
Dean Martha Minow described Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as “an outstanding, meticulous, and thoughtful judge with a superb career of public service.” In an interview with WBUR for National Public Radio, Minow said, “This is a terrific appointment of a truly outstanding jurist whose work as a judge and as a lawyer has won bipartisan praise for its carefulness, its wisdom, and its attention to the rule of law.”
Garland has returned to campus on a number of occasions to share his perspectives with students and to judge moot court competitions.
In 2013, Garland presided over the final round of the Law School’s Ames Moot Court Competition. He was also on the three-judge panel for the final round of the 2006 competition.
In 2010, Garland came to HLS to speak with students in a trial advocacy class taught by Professor Charles Ogletree ’78, a friend from their student days. He engaged them in a Q&A about careers in the law, and he drew from his experience as both a prosecutor and defense lawyer to examine the revolving roles of advocates in the legal system.
Another classmate, William Alford ’77, the Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law at HLS, called Garland an extraordinarily impressive person. “When we were students, he was well known throughout the Law School not only for being enormously intelligent, but for his thoughtfulness and decency—for being a real mensch,” Alford said. “We’ve most recently spoken in the past few years about students applying for clerkships in his chambers, and those same qualities—of a probing intelligence and a thorough-going decency—remain very much in evidence.”
Laurence Tribe ’66, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor, told the Harvard Gazette that Garland is “a brilliant jurist, whom I’ve known well and admired greatly ever since he was my student in advanced constitutional law in 1975-76.” Tribe said, “No sitting judge in the country, state or federal, has a more stellar reputation as a thoughtful analyst with a firm commitment to the rule of law and to the proper reach of the judicial role. And that stellar reputation is one that Judge Garland has amply earned. To put it simply, he would be a truly great Supreme Court Justice.”