WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday pushed ahead with the appointment of Merrick Garland as Attorney General for President Joe Biden.
Garland’s nomination was reported by the democratically-led bipartisan committee with 15 to 7 votes.
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the highest-ranking member of the committee, as well as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina joined all Democrats in support of the nomination.
The seven Republicans who voted against Garland were Sens. Ben Sasse from Nebraska, Mike Lee from Utah, Josh Hawley from Missouri, Tom Cotton from Arkansas, John Kennedy from Louisiana, Ted Cruz from Texas and Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee.
The committee’s action comes a week after Garland testified before the panel how he would run the Justice Department if approved by the Senate and assured senators that he would protect the department’s independence and not allow politics to stand up to get involved in the work.
In pre-vote comments, committee chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Said of the candidate that “America will be better with this type of person running the Justice Department.”
Grassley announced his intention to endorse Garland and said a moment later, “I plan to vote for him. I hope my confidence is not out of place.”
Other Republicans were tougher. For his part, Cruz claimed Garland “refused to answer virtually anything” Confirmation hearings – a claim that Durbin denied.
Committee member John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters last week that Garland “is a straight shooter when it comes to legal issues”. He said “he’s had an incredible career” and “seems like a thoroughly decent person”.
Other Republicans on the committee, including some potential 2024 presidential candidates like Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Were less enthusiastic and expressed strong reservations about Garland.
Garland noted in his testimony that if affirmed, he would “monitor the persecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6th – a hideous attack designed to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government. “
Garland, who helped investigate and track the bombers in Oklahoma City in the 1990s, said the Justice Department must do everything in its power to ensure Americans and democratic institutions are protected from such extremists.
In response to a. Questioned by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, DR. I. Garland said he would not rule out investigating those who funded, organized, led, and otherwise assisted the attack.
“We start with the local people and work our way up to the participants and other participants. We will follow these clues wherever they lead us,” said Garland.
During his confirmation hearing last week, Garland stressed that he would protect the Justice Department’s independence from White House political interference in an investigation. Former President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, has been widely accused of putting by federal judges and others Trump’s interests in front of the department.
When his nomination was announced in January, Garland said he would endeavor to ensure that “cases are treated equally, that there is not one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends and one for enemies “.
68-year-old Garland’s confirmation comes after Republicans decided not to consider his appointment of former President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court in 2016. Garland has been a judge on the DC Circuit’s Court of Appeals since 1997 and its Chief Justice from 2013 until 2020.