GARLAND TO FOCUS ON CIVIL RIGHTS, INDEPENDENCE OF JUSTICE DEP’T
Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, will appear for his confirmation hearing vowing to prioritize civil rights, combat extremist attacks and ensure the Justice Department remains politically independent, Michael Balsamo and Mary Clare Jalonick reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Garland, a federal appeals court judge who was snubbed by Republicans for a seat on the Supreme Court in 2016, will appear Monday (Tuesday, February 23, 2021, in Manila) before the Senate Judiciary Committee and is widely expected to sail through his confirmation process with bipartisan support.
Garland’s nomination has gained public support on both sides of the political aisle, from more than 150 former Justice Department officials — including former attorneys general Loretta Lynch, Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales, along with 61 former federal judges.
Others, including two sons of former Attorney General Edward Levi, have also written letters of support to Congress.
“There have been few moments in history where the role of attorney general — and the occupant of that post — have mattered more,” the committee’s chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says in remarks prepared for the hearing.
In his own prepared remarks, Garland focuses on prioritizing policing and civil rights to combat racial discrimination — he says America doesn’t “yet have equal justice” — as well as confronting the rise in extremist violence and domestic terror threats and restoring the department’s political independence after years of controversial decisions and turmoil.
“Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change,” Garland says.
Garland is also planning to highlight the department’s work prosecuting hundreds of pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Biden’s electoral win on Jan. 6.