More than 40 years ago, Merrick Garland walked the upper halls of the U.S. Supreme Court as a law clerk to the late liberal lion Justice William Brennan Jr. Years later as an appellate judge, Garland would join a small group of judges whose law clerks regularly go on to spend a year in the chambers of other justices.

Ask former clerks from the 1978 Supreme Court term what they thought then about Garland and their list of superlatives runs long. Garland was brilliant, quiet and hardworking. He was always thoroughly prepared and fair-minded. Indeed, they said, many of the characteristics of that young law clerk at the Supreme Court foreshadow the type of U.S. attorney general he would be if confirmed as President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Justice Department.

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