Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, received a thank-you card from students he tutored at J.O. Wilson Elementary School in the District on April 6. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

It’s life as usual for Judge Merrick Garland while his future as a Supreme Court justice is still in limbo. President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee tutored students at a D.C. elementary school Monday — a routine he has followed for nearly 20 years.

Garland has volunteered at the J.O. Wilson Elementary School in Northeast Washington regularly for the past 18 years, arriving at the school every other Monday at 2:30 p.m.

And this past Monday was no different.

When he arrived, students at the elementary school delivered Garland an over-sized congratulatory card, saying, “We believe in you” and “Thanks for Your Service!” More than 100 students and Principal Heidi Haggerty signed the card.

“We’re thrilled that Judge Garland continues to tutor our students at J.O. Wilson Elementary School even while he is being considered for the Supreme Court,” said Michelle Lerner, a spokeswoman for D.C. public schools.

Courtesy of Principal Heidi Haggerty.
Vernell Garvin and Jenifer Morales Garcia, students at J.O. Wilson Elementary School. (Courtesy of Heidi Haggerty)

Garland typically tutors just one or two students and follows them throughout their elementary school years, sometimes even continuing with them in middle school. He now tutors two fifth-graders at the school, who praised him for his ability to help with their math work.

“When I have problems with my math homework, he’ll help me with that,” Vernell Garvin, a fifth-grader at the school who has worked with Garland for five years, said in an interview last month. “He’s a very good person. He never does anything wrong. He deserves the job.”

The school’s principal said Garland also requires his clerks to volunteer with students. In a White House video released last month, Garland explained why he tutors these children, saying it “is an opportunity to actually affect a child’s life.”

“It’s an enormous thrill to see somebody move from being a hesitant reader to being a good reader, from being a hesitant person working with mathematics to being somebody who is reasonably confident about it, from being hesitant about writing to writing full paragraphs and complete stories,” Garland said in the video.

Garland, 63, is from the Chicago suburbs, was valedictorian of his public high school and attended Harvard University for his undergraduate and law degrees. He was a prosecutor in the legendary D.C. case that landed Mayor Marion Barry in jail on drug charges and later oversaw the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995. He now serves as the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

In Obama’s announcement of Garland as a nominee, he praised the judge for his “civic mindedness, mentoring his clerks throughout their careers, urging them to use their legal training to serve their communities, setting his own example by tutoring a young student at a Northeast D.C. elementary school each year for the past 18 years.”

At this point, it’s unclear whether Garland will even get a Senate hearing to weigh his nomination. Most Senate Republicans say they don’t want to have a hearing on Garland’s nomination, contending that it’s inappropriate for the president to nominate someone for the highest bench during an election year. Democrats have been on blitz to push his confirmation, running editorials, circulating petitions and scheduling Garland to meet with Senate leaders.

As of Monday, 52 of the 54 Republican senators oppose giving Garland a hearing.


The card Garland received. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)