Biden's attorney general nominee Garland vows to prioritize civil rights

Paola Ditto
Febbraio 21, 2021

"The Civil Rights Act of 1957 created the Department's Civil Rights Division, with the mission 'to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society, '" Garland said.

In an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, Garland also said that enforcing equal justice for people of colour remains an incomplete and "urgent" task, 150 years after the Justice Department was founded following the Civil War. "'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".

Referring to last month's Capitol attack, Garland recalled his past supervision of the Oklahoma City bombing investigation and the prosecution of bomber Timothy McVeigh and conspirator Terry Nichols who sought to "spark a revolution that would topple the federal government". Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, nominated him to the Supreme Court in 2016, but the Republican-controlled Senate at the time refused to hold hearings on the nomination.

DOJ: The Justice Department urgently needs a reset. "That critical work is but a part of the broad scope of the Department's responsibilities".

In his remarks, Garland called the January 6 riot a "heinous attack" on the peaceful transfer of power, and said that "battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central" to the Justice Department's mission 150 years after its founding.

Garland also said the country faces a serious threat of extremism, as exemplified by the deadly January 6 attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol, which shut down the legislature as lawmakers met to certify Biden's election win.

In testimony prepared for his confirmation hearing tomorrow and Tuesday, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland indicated he wants to remove the taint of political interference left on the department by Trump.

Garland will highlight the importance of existing policies that "protect the independence of the department from partisan influence in law enforcement investigations" and "strictly regulate communications with the White House".

Several Senate Judiciary Republicans said Wednesday they would press Garland during his confirmation hearing to commit to investigating COVID-19 nursing home deaths, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's controversial reporting of nursing home death totals in his state.

On Friday, letters of support for his nomination were submitted to the committee from a bipartisan group of officials.

Garland, 68, serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, one of 13 federal appeals courts.

© Joe Raedle, Getty Images Then-President George W. Bush embraces U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as he walks offstage after the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in April 2005 in Washington, D.C. Gonzales has "fond feelings" about his service.

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