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AG nominee Garland vows to restore DOJ independence; casts domestic extremist battle as ‘central’ to mission

  • February 21, 2021
Attorney general nominee Judge Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Attorney general nominee Merrick Garland is vowing to defend the Justice Department’s independence from the White House, pursue equal justice for communities of color and make the battle against extremism “central” to the department’s mission, according to remarks prepared for delivery Monday at his Senate confirmation hearing.

Garland, a former top Justice official who last served during the Clinton administration, said he would reaffirm policies that he described as the foundation of the agency, including standards that “protect the independence of the department from partisan influence in law enforcement investigations; that strictly regulate communications with the White House. …”

Acknowledging the public outrage that defined last summer’s social justice protests, Garland highlighted the mission of the department’s Civil Rights Division to protect the rights of the “most vulnerable members of our society.”

Donald Trump to use the institution to advance his political interests.The Justice Department urgently needs a reset. Enter Merrick Garland. Is he up for it?

More:Biden introduces Merrick Garland, 3 other Justice Department nominees

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.

A separate endorsement was submitted on behalf of 61 former federal judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents.

“Judge Garland approaches the law with an unwavering commitment to fairness and justice,” the judges said. “Those of us who have worked directly with Judge Garland have seen firsthand his strong moral compass and abiding integrity.”

“The work and reputation of the Department of Justice are as important as they have ever been,” the former Justice officials said. “Judge Garland is the right person to ensure the fair administration of justice, whether related to national security, public integrity, civil rights, antitrust, crime, or other pressing issues.

“He is also the right person to do so with integrity, humility, and a complete understanding of the substantial responsibility on his shoulders at this time,” the former Justice officials said.

Garland approaches his Monday confirmation hearing five years after a Republican-controlled Senate blocked his nomination to the Supreme Court by then-President Barack Obama.

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