Merrick Garland, who is President Joe Biden’s pick for U.S. Attorney General, gave some fairly left-leaning answers to questions during the first day of his Senate confirmation hearings on Monday.
At times however, Senators were lucky that their questions were answered at all. Garland also managed to dodge some answers to pertinent questions.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) drew Garland’s attention back to the ongoing violence that plagued many west coast cities last summer, including Portland Oregon where the protests raged for over 100 days. Violence there included an attack on a federal courthouse.
Sen. Hawley asked Garland about the attack on the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse in Portland.
“Do you regard assaults on federal courthouses or other federal property as acts of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism?” he questioned
That is when Garland made the distinction of whether or not the courthouse was in operation at the time of the attack:
“Well, senator, my own definition, which is about the same as the statutory definition is the use of violence or threats of violence in attempt to disrupt democratic processes. An attack on a courthouse while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases that plainly is, um, domestic extremism, um domestic terrorism.”
Garland went on so say, “An attack simply on 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 mean, I don’t know enough about the facts of the example you’re talking about, but that’s where I draw the line when it one is, both are criminal, but one is a core attack on our democratic institutions.”
WATCH: Senator Josh Hawley grills Biden's nominee for Attorney General Merrick Garland on the assaults on federal buildings during the summer riots pic.twitter.com/hY6pMiNgcM
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 22, 2021
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The Name Merrick Garland Might Sound Familiar
Merrick Garland is a name that might ring a bell, because he was former President Barack Obama’s pick in 2016 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to give Garland a Senate hearing, saying they would not hold any hearings until a new president was elected later that year.
In a report from 2018, NPR stated that Garland was “considered a prime prospect” for the Supreme Court and was regarded by many as a moderate. He had been praised by some Republicans at the time, including former Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah.
With a majority in the Senate in 2021, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) does not need the help of moderate Republicans like Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, or Lisa Murkowski. But Garland could have some appeal to them.
Garland is already enjoying bipartisan support. According to a USA Today report, Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzalez, both Attorney General Generals under President George W. Bush, were part of a group of more than 150 justice officials and U.S. Attorneys who have stated that they feel Garland is “the right person for a difficult job.”
Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, signals bipartisan support for Merrick Garland to be Attorney General at the opening of his confirmation hearing https://t.co/5LspkieQFl
— Bloomberg Asia (@BloombergAsia) February 22, 2021
Garland Giving Some Curious Answers
On the first day of hearings, Garland was questioned about various subjects, including immigration and transgender girls playing sports with biological girls. However, some of his answers were at best flimsy, and seemed as if he was dodging the question.
A Fox News report described another exchange between Garland and Hawley on the question of immigration. Sen. Hawley asked Garland about his stance on immigration policy, and asked if Garland believed that “illegal entry” into the country should remain illegal.
His answer may be surprising to some as someone who is being considered for the top law enforcement position in the United States:
“I haven’t thought about that question. I just haven’t thought about that question. I think the president has made clear that we are a country with borders and with a concern about national security. I don’t know if a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to re-enter. I just don’t know the answer to that question. I haven’t thought about it.”
Garland also side-stepped a question from Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who asked Garland’s views on biological males competing on all-girls sports teams. Kennedy asked Garland if he agreed that “allowing biological males to compete in an all-female sport deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports.”
Garland said it was a difficult question. Kennedy then quipped, “I know, but you’re going to be Attorney General.” Garland’s response was a dodge:
“I think every human being should be treated with dignity and respect. The particular question of how Title IX applies in schools…is something that I would have to look at when I have the chance to do that. I’ve not had the chance to consider these kinds of issues in my career so far.”
@HawleyMO seems to catch Biden’s AG nominee Merrick Garland off guard with a simple question about illegal immigration.
“I just haven't thought about that question… I don't know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to enter." pic.twitter.com/h029GDu291
— Real America's Voice (RAV) (@RealAmVoice) February 22, 2021
Merrick Garland’s First Priority As Attorney General
Merrick Garland has stated that if confirmed, his highest priority as Attorney General would be to investigate the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Garland said he feels that “the U.S. is currently in a period more dangerous” than after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
He went on to say that, “I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”
Garland also said that a possible investigation would include starting from the ground up, and work his way up to those who have further involvement.
“We also have to focus on what is happening all over the country, and on where this could spread, and where this came from,” he added.
Domestic Terrorism Isn’t ‘A One-Off’: Merrick Garland Compares Capitol Riot To Oklahoma City Bombing And KKK https://t.co/86uFCw5yAB
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 22, 2021
No word on Merrick Garland’s views on the first amendment.
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