Attorney General candidate Merrick Garland testifies during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC, on February 22, 2021.
Drew Angerer | Pool | Reuters
The Justice Committee on Monday brought forward Judge Merrick Garland’s appointment as attorney general for the entire Senate, paving the way for his confirmation as Justice Department head.
The bipartisan vote was 15-7. A full Senate vote is not planned, but could take place earlier this week.
Garland’s committee hearings last week focused on the full investigation into the January 6th uprising in the U.S. Capitol. The largely heartfelt question-and-answer session indicated that the centrist’s former Supreme Court candidate was likely to be approved bipartisan.
The candidate is expected to be vital to the implementation of President Joe Biden’s agenda in a number of areas, particularly civil rights reform and criminal justice, but also antitrust enforcement, progress climate change, financial regulation and other areas.
The Attorney General is the seventh to succeed the President after the Minister of Defense.
Garland is best known to the public as the face of Senate Republicans’ successful drive to block former President Barack Obama’s efforts to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in the country’s Supreme Court.
In 2016, Obama nominated Garland, a longtime judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, to fill the position. However, Garland never received a hearing for the role in the GOP-dominated Congress Chamber. The Republicans held the seat open until President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
At his hearings last week, Garland pledged to remain independent of Biden in the Justice Department’s investigation and prosecution. Garland said he had not spoken to the president about an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter Biden into the younger man’s tax affairs.
Garland also spoke of his role in overseeing the law enforcement that arose from the far-right terrorist attack in Oklahoma City in 1995 and said he would draw on his experience overseeing the investigation into the riot in Congress. Garland said investigating the attack was his # 1 priority.
“We start with the local people and work our way up to those involved,” Garland told the senators.
The hearings suggested what might be more difficult for other Justice Department candidates.
Senator Mike Lee, R-Ariz., Wanted Kristen Clarke, who was nominated to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and Vanita Gupta, who had selected Biden to be third in the division as the Associate Attorney General, ins Take visor.
Clarke and Gupta have both been attacked by conservative groups.
Clarke is under fire for a letter she co-wrote, published in The Harvard Crimson in 1994, saying that blacks are in some ways physically superior to whites. She has since said the comments are meant to show the absurdity of racist views against blacks. Clarke is the former president of the Civil Rights Lawyers’ Committee.
Gupta has been targeted by the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, which has accused Gupta, without evidence, of wanting to disappoint the police. However, those arguments were largely invalidated after large police groups, including the fraternal police force, backed the civil rights leader last month.
“Vanita Gupta has always worked with us to find common ground, even when it seemed impossible,” the national FOP, which twice endorsed former President Donald Trump, said in a statement.
Garland defended both women at his own hearing, telling Lee that “I have every confidence in them”.
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