US At confirmation hearing, Merrick Garland draws sharp contrast with William Barr on systemic racism in US
Garland to stress law enforcement experience at confirmation hearing
Biden's choice for attorney general plans to highlight role as prosecutor, vow backing for civil rights.“If I am confirmed, serving as Attorney General will be the culmination of a career I have dedicated to ensuring that the laws of our country are fairly and faithfully enforced, and that the rights of all Americans are protected,” Garland plans to say in the statement, released publicly on Saturday night.
to define systemic racism, implicit bias and racism during and his answers laid out a stark contrast with the last Senate-confirmed attorney general from the Trump administration.
"I think it is plain to me that there is discrimination and widespread disparate treatment of communities of color and other ethnic minorities in this country. They have a disproportionately lower employment, disproportionately lower home ownership rates, disproportionately lower ability to accumulate wealth," Garland said, after being asked by Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, to define systemic racism.
Opinion: The three biggest decisions facing Merrick Garland
If all goes as planned at this week's Senate confirmation hearing and Judge Merrick Garland takes the reins as attorney general at the US Justice Department, he will face a daunting thicket of quandaries that present thorny issues of law, accountability and politics, writes Elie Honig.If all goes as planned and Garland takes the reins at the Justice Department, he will face a daunting thicket of quandaries that present thorny issues of law, accountability and politics.
Kennedy later asked Garland, "But how do you know what you know? ... If you say an institution is systemically racist, how do you know what you know? Do you measure it by disparate impact, controlling for other factors? Or do you just look at the numbers and say the system must be racist?"
"Well, now you've asked me a slightly different question, which I think I have a slightly different answer for," Garland responded. "The authority the Justice Department has to investigate institutions is to look for patterns or practices of unconstitutional conduct and if we find a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct, I would describe that as institutional racism within that institution. That may not be the perfect definition, but that's what I would think."
Chuck Grassley unapologetic about blocking Merrick Garland from U.S. Supreme Court
As the attorney general nomination hearing opens, Grassley offers no remorse about 2016, when Obama tried to fill Scalia's seat with Garland.Former President Barack Obama nominated Garland, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. But Republicans who controlled the Senate, refused to consider the nomination during an election year.
The exchange showed how Biden's attorney general pick will lead the Justice Department in a dramatically different direction than the course that has been charted over the last four years. Under the leadership of Jeff Sessions and William Barr, the department took a more limited role in reforming police departments accused of civil rights violations and Barr, on multiple occasions during last summer's protests after the death of George Floyd, refused to recognize the role systemic racism plays in policing. While Garland has made prosecuting those accused of crimes during the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol his top priority, his answers to Kennedy showed Justice may take a more expansive role in civil rights cases in the years ahead.
Kennedy also asked Garland to explain his view of the difference between people who are racist and institutional racism, as well as the "concept of implicit bias."
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President Biden's nominee to be the next attorney general, Merrick Garland, got emotional during a hearing while explaining how his family fled persecution over their Jewish identity. © Provided by Washington Examiner Garland, 68, recounted his family's tragic journey to the United States on Monday while in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The emotional response was elicited after Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker asked him about his motivations and his "family history in confronting hate and discrimination.
"Implicit bias just means that every human being has biases. That's part of what it means to be a human being," Garland said. "And the point of examining our implicit biases is to bring our conscious mind up to our unconscious mind and to know when we're behaving in a stereotyped way. Everybody has stereotypes. It's not possible to go through life without working through stereotypes. And implicit biases are the ones that we don't recognize our behavior. That doesn't make you racist, no."
Garland's answers during his exchange with Kennedy were sharply different than one of his high-profile predecessors, who faced similar questions last summer in the throes of the summer uprisings that occurred throughout the country on the heels of the death of George Floyd.
At that time, Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee and denied the existence of systemic racism in police departments.
Barr was pressed during that hearing by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas about his repeated denials of institutional and systemic racism in police departments, which she said have "plagued so many."
Senate advances key nominees for Joe Biden as president's Cabinet starts to take shape
Two more nominees – Deb Haaland for Interior and Xavier Becerra for Health and Human Services – have begun confirmation hearings.The Senate approved former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to serve in the same position in Biden's Cabinet. That vote came shortly after senators confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations.
"I don't agree that there's systemic racism in the police departments generally in this country," Barr
Similarly, Barr denied that there's systemic racism in policing during an interview in June with CBS.
"I think there's racism in the United States still but I don't think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist. I understand the distrust, however, of the African American community given the history in this country,"
Barr was later, the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, during a closed-door meeting of national law enforcement leaders about those comments. She asked Barr in that meeting to "think differently because just because you have not experienced that, it does exist."
In an interview with CNN in December, before Garland was nominated, Williams said that Biden's pick for attorney general must come to the table with the understanding that they "represent something larger than themselves" and should understand that there are issues in this country "even if it does not sit right at their feet."
Williams told CNN on Monday that Garland handled Kennedy's questions professionally, intelligently, methodically, honestly and was real in his response.
"I'm pleased that Garland recognizes that the Justice Department is a representative of the people that it doesn't belong to the presidency or that its serving one individual or a party that it represents the entire country," Williams said. "I am very hopeful and optimistic that he is confirmed, and that he leads our country out of a very dark place from very dark place."
Another civil rights leader -- Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP -- called the line of questioning from Kennedy a "waste of time."
Johnson questioned whether Kennedy was genuine or tried to use race as a tool to trip Garland up and justify not supporting his confirmation.
"I found it unfortunate that he would focus on something not relevant to whether or not that Judge Garland is competent, and qualified to serve as attorney general, honor the Constitution and represent the people of the United States. And for him to take the time to use their line of questioning was a waste of time. We need to move forward as a nation," Johnson told CNN. "Sen. Kennedy knows all too well the paralyzing effects of systemic racism has had on the south, in Louisiana and on this country."
GOP Senator Vows to Slow Down Merrick Garland’s Confirmation .
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland will have to wait a little longer to be confirmed after a Republican senator said he would refuse to expedite a final confirmation vote. Garland has enough bipartisan support to be confirmed, but Tom Cotton, the junior senator from Arkansas and a potential candidate for president in 2024, complained in a series of tweets about how Garland answered questions about immigration, the death penalty and racial equity.