February 24, 2021

Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s attorney general nominee, vowed Monday to prioritize combating extremist violence with an initial focus on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as he sought to assure lawmakers that the Justice Department would remain politically independent on his watch.” AP News

Read our prior coverage of Merrick Garland. The Flip Sid

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From the Left

The left praises Garland’s commitment to de-politicize the Justice Department.

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) writes, “The Justice Department under the last administration pushed policies of unimaginable harm to the American people and to our cherished values, from separating the thousands of infants and children from their migrant parents to prohibiting innocent Muslims from traveling to our shores and intervening [in] cases to protect the friends of the president to repeating baseless [lies] about voter fraud ahead of the 2020 election…

“The misdeeds of the previous Justice Department brought our country to the brink, and as we learned after the inauguration of Joe Biden, a senior Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, plotted with Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election and worked to oust other agency leaders who had refused to join in that effort. A warning [of] mass resignation by Justice Department attorneys averted such last minute plans…

“It is no overstatement to say the nomination of Garland is one of the most critical in modern history. But a restored and reformed Justice Department under his helm can and, I believe will, meet this moment.”
Richard Durbin, The Hill

“Under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr, the department was arguably less independent than at any time since John F. Kennedy’s brother led it. Trump asserted an ‘absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.’ Barr, a longtime proponent of presidential power, generally endorsed and enabled Trump’s moves…

“Garland told senators that he believes (and says Biden has pledged) that prosecutions and investigations should be handled independently of the White House… But politics will intrude, and soon… the anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ wants to see the Justice Department forcefully pursue Trump, his family, and his cronies. Biden has already renounced any role in making such decisions, leaving the matter to his attorney general—which means that it will be Garland who has to grapple with demands for these politically incendiary moves.”
David A. Graham, The Atlantic

Also in his testimony, “Garland explained the phenomenon of systemic bias in the criminal justice system and its impact on scores of other aspects of American life… The simple example of disparities in sentencing and incarceration for nonviolent marijuana charges opened an informed discussion of the myriad ramifications for Black Americans (e.g., access to college education, jobs, credit, business licenses). That, in turn, made the faux outrage from Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy (La.) over being accused of implicit bias all the more ridiculous. Garland patiently explained that it is not an insult or accusation but a description of the human condition

“Garland’s implacable demeanor and refusal to condescend or scold Kennedy worked in his favor, making Kennedy appear all the more thick-headed in his unwillingness to recognize the bias that affects virtually every aspect of American life, from health and longevity to housing to wealth to criminal justice to voting to employment. In comparing these exchanges, it was easy to see which party is simply encouraging White grievance (Republican senators would have their base believe, ‘They think you’re all racists!’) and which is addressing a serious and pervasive issue in American society.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

Critics note that “[Garland] looks to be drawing extensively on the ranks of BigLaw representatives to staff [DOJ’s] most powerful and important posts… [Brian Boynton, the current chief deputy and acting head of the Civil Division] helped see through the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, and worked on behalf of predatory for-profit colleges…

“Emily Loeb has been announced as associate deputy attorney general, leaving her post as partner of the law firm Jenner & Block. Loeb most recently represented Apple in the House antitrust investigation, and was described by those involved with the investigation to have been an obstructionist force…

“Confidence in the DOJ as an institution is particularly low… Is a Clinton-era DOJ, teeming with corporate lawyers who have worked on behalf of for-profit colleges and the very same Big Tech firms the government is supposed to be investigating, up to the enormous task at hand?”
Alexander Sammon, American Prospect

From the Right

The right is critical of Garland’s evasive answers.

The right is critical of Garland’s evasive answers.

“Like many nominees before him, Garland is clearly seeking to avoid answering questions on any politically divisive issues that might give some of the senators a reason to vote against him… [Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO)] asked Garland if he believed that illegal entry into the country ‘should remain a crime.’ The hemming and hawing that Garland offered in response was rather embarrassing to watch, culminating with a few variations of saying that he didn’t know because he’d never really thought about it…

“The Attorney General is charged with enforcing the nation’s laws. He or she doesn’t get to change the laws because that’s the job of the legislative branch. Illegal border crossings are in the news and the subject of political debate on a daily basis, but Merrick Garland has never even thought about the subject and doesn’t know ‘what the current program is?’”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“Another question he evaded was the yes-or-no query posed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Ted Cruz (R-TX): should Special Counsel John Durham be kept in his job [investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation]? And would Garland commit to publishing Durham’s report, when it emerged? All three noted that Attorney General William Barr had said ‘yes’ when asked the same about Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But Garland refused to be pinned down, saying he needed to know more…

“In so doing, Garland endorsed a clear double standard: an inquiry into President Donald Trump had to be protected, but one that could implicate Democrats — including President Joe Biden himself — could be dismantled.”
Joel Pollak, Breitbart

“‘Do you regard assaults on federal courthouses or other federal property as acts of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism?’ Hawley asked. [Garland responded] ‘The use of violence or threats of violence in an attempt to disrupt democratic processes. So an attack on a courthouse while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism. An attack simply on a government property, at night, or any other kind of circumstances is a clear crime and a serious one and should be punished. I don’t know enough about the facts of the example you’re talking about, but that’s where I draw the line.’…

“How do you say that an attack on the federal courthouse isn’t ‘an attack on our Democratic institutions?’ So let’s take the example that Hawley was actually trying to reference: the Portland federal courthouse. They’re attacking it because it is representative of the federal government and they spent over 100 days in a row with the express intent of trying to burn it down and drive the federal government out, with dozens of officers injured. If you burn it down the night before, would that not put a crimp in their operations the next day, which was sort of the point? A three hour riot is an ‘attack’ on our institutions but more than 100 days of siege isn’t?…

“Is Garland saying that the bombs planted at the RNC and the DNC aren’t domestic terrorism because they happened the night before, on the night of Jan. 5, not during the day on Jan. 6? Because if they went off at night they wouldn’t be ‘disrupting processes.’ Of course, that’s crazy. But that’s where his thinking would lead you.”
Nick Arama, RedState

“Hawley, Grassley, and other senators must make sure that, as attorney general, Garland lives up to his commitment to treat all political violence equally. The attack on the U.S. Capitol was a disgraceful incident without any possible justification or excuse. It doesn’t change the fact that antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters’ storming of the Portland federal courthouse was also a disgraceful attack on our republican system and the rule of law…

“It doesn’t take away from the fact that leftists’ riotous storming of Colorado’s state Capitol building during the summer, which caused $1 million in damage, was also a disgrace. It doesn’t detract from the fact that the burning of downtown areas in Minneapolis, Kenosha, and multiple other cities was a disgrace…

“There must be one and only one standard for political violence — that it is unjustifiable no matter who carries it out; that its instigators will be hunted down and arrested; that it will always be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

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