WASHINGTON – Judge Merrick B. Garland plans to tell Senators Monday that he will restore the Department of Justice’s commitment to equal justice under the law, combat a resurgent domestic terrorist threat, and work to eradicate widespread discrimination if he is Attorney General is confirmed.
Judge Garland set out his top three priorities in an opening statement that he plans to present to the Judiciary Committee on Monday when he begins the confirmation hearings.
When President Biden nominated Judge Garland for Supreme Law Enforcement last month, he said that the Justice Department’s fight against the Ku Klux Klan in the 20th century had shown that the fight against domestic terrorism and systemic racism were historically one and the same.
The struggle Mr Biden described – “standing up against the clan, standing up against racism, facing domestic terrorism” – illustrated the Justice Department’s promise to protect the country’s most cherished ideals and institutions.
Judge Garland reflected that sentiment in his prepared remarks, which the Justice Department released late Saturday. The division was established after the Civil War and the first attorney general carried out a “concerted fight to protect black voting rights from the violence of white supremacists,” which successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases against members of the Ku Klux Klan. ”
“This mission remains urgent because we do not have the same justice yet,” Judge Garland is expected. “Colored communities and other minorities continue to face discrimination in housing, education, employment and criminal justice.”
If Judge Garland is confirmed as attorney general, he will inherit a Department of Justice that was deeply demoralized under President Donald J. Trump and his attorney general, William P. Barr. Mr. Trump viewed the department as hostile to him and treated it either as an enemy to be foiled or as a power to be wielded against his political enemies.
Mr Barr’s tenure was largely driven by a perception that he was advancing the president’s personal and political agenda at the expense of the ministry’s independence, for example by undercutting his own investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign. And his former MPs said he was reluctant to consider recommendations from the department’s career staff, especially on issues of interest to Mr Trump.
The Trump administration was also seen as openly militant with the Department of Civil Rights Defense’s mission as it curtailed civil rights protection for transgender people, dismantling guidelines for positive action on college admission, and abolishing tools used by colored people were changing rules that effectively discriminate against them in relation to housing, education and employment.
Judge Garland’s testimony refers to the recent past. Now is “an appropriate time to recognize the division’s 115,000+ career workers,” he anticipates saying, “and their law enforcement agencies and their commitment to serving the cause of justice and protecting the safety of our communities.”
The statement went on to say, “If I am approved, serving as attorney general will be the culmination of a career I have set out to ensure that our country’s laws are enforced fairly and faithfully and that the rights of all Americans are protected . “
Several law enforcement and civil rights groups have written letters in support of Judge Garland’s nomination, and he is expected to be supported by Republicans and Democrats alike.
The International Association of Police Chiefs, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, the Federation of Federal Law Enforcement Officers, and the Fraternal Order of Police said in letters to the Judiciary Committee that they viewed Judge Garland as a leader who respected the work of the police force.
When President Barack Obama appointed Judge Garland to the Supreme Court in March 2016, a nomination the Republicans effectively blocked, he was seen as a moderate judge with a proven record on the side of law enforcement in his decisions.
“During his tenure as federal prosecutor and federal judge, Judge Garland has demonstrated a keen sense of justice, a reputation for fairness and honesty, and respect for law enforcement officers,” the fraternal police presence said in his letter.
But civil rights groups phrased his record as one that demonstrated his ability to reach consensus on sensitive issues.
Judge Garland understands that this moment in our story “requires healing; and that the Department of Justice vigorously protects the civil rights of marginalized communities, ”said the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Reverend Al Sharpton.
If confirmed, Judge Garland will lead the division even at a time when the threat of right-wing extremism has greatly increased. That threat became astonishingly evident on January 6th when militias, far-right nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and supporters of the QAnon conspiracy movement stormed the Capitol.
“One hundred and fifty years after the division was founded, combating extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central to its mission,” Judge Garland is expected.