According to the Associated Press, on January 7th local time, President-elect Biden presided over the nomination meeting for the new government’s Department of Justice officials in Wilmington, Delaware.
He announced the nomination of Merrick Garland, the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney General, who also nominated Lisa Monako, former White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, as deputy secretary of justice.
The candidate for attorney general in Biden’s cabinet has always attracted much attention.
Especially as Biden’s son Hunter Biden is under investigation by the Department of Justice for tax matters, the public is even more curious about whether Biden will fulfill his promise to re-establish “judicial independence” and how the attorney general he chose will get through these cases.
Garland commits to restoring order and integrity to the highest law enforcement agencies
Born in 1952, Garland graduated from Harvard Law School and served as the secretary of former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. In 1997, he was nominated by former President Bill Clinton to serve as a judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Appeals of Washington, D.C.
According to The Guardian, Garland was nominated by then President Obama to fill the vacancy after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2016.
However, at that time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider Garland’s nomination. McConnell believes that the general election is approaching at that time, and the new president should appoint the candidate.
On January 7th, local time, Biden said at the meeting that after four years of Trump’s “no rule of law”, Garland, as an experienced judge, will help the Department of Justice “depoliticize” and restore the order of the law.
Biden noted that “most importantly, we need to reshape the Department of Justice’s seriously damaged honor, integrity and independence.”
Biden said Garland was not loyal to the president, but to the Constitution and the law. Biden, in his introduction to Garland, said bluntly, “You don’t work for me.”
Garland also promised to restore order and integrity to the highest law enforcement agencies in the United States.
In particular, he pointed out that the riots in the Capitol on January 6th local time were the result of not doing so.” If the people were not clear before, they would also understand after witnessing yesterday’s events that the rule of law is not just lawyers’ words.
Garland may be responsible for repairing the “distrust” of the people.
James Wilder, a longtime federal defense attorney in Maryland, said Garland had a chance to reshape the Department of Justice.
He believes that the Department of Justice “need not only healing, but also change”.
Sen. Lindsey Graham also believes that Garland is “a wise choice to serve as the next Attorney General”.
He said that he had great character, integrity and strong legal ability.
The Associated Press believes that once Garland’s appointment is confirmed by the Senate, Garland will face urgent challenges in policing and civil rights.
It is expected that the Ministry of Justice will change its direction significantly, including a different approach to civil rights issues and national policing policies.
On December 8 last year, the Department of Justice disclosed a criminal tax investigation against Hunter Biden.
The Washington Post pointed out that Garland may be asked to publicly explain how he would supervise the investigation.
In addition, some Democrats want to conduct a criminal investigation into Trump after he leaves office.
Garland also has to respond to this. Biden has said he would not use the Justice Department as a “political tool,” according to the Capitol Hill.
In addition to these problems, Garland will also be responsible for repairing the general distrust of the American people in the Department of Justice. The Associated Press pointed out that this distrust was provoked in the past four “turbulent” years.
Trump has repeatedly directly interfered with the work of the judiciary, and former Attorney General William Barr also authorized the Department of Justice to launch an election violation investigation, which has been accused of “violating the Department’s 40-year tradition”.
U.S. media said that the timing of the nomination implied that Garland was Biden’s first candidate.
The Guardian believes that it is unusual to choose a judge to be the Attorney General, which also reflects Biden’s recent political change in opportunity. It is worth noting that Biden chose to nominate Garland, just after the Democratic Party won the Georgia runoff, according to NBC.
Democrats will have a narrow margin of control of the Senate, and Biden’s cabinet nomination is likely to be passed smoothly. All of this means that Garland is Biden’s first candidate for the Attorney General.
NBC pointed out that the choice of Garland heralds a more moderate governance of the new government.
On the other hand, however, Biden doesn’t seem to believe he has the ability to work with Senate Republicans, as he previously hinted.
Different voices have also appeared in response to Garland’s appointment.
According to the Washington Post, Brian Benzkowski, a Republican lawyer who held a key position in the criminal department of the Justice Department, said Garland is a respected judge and expected to be a stable and impartial leader.
But defense lawyers and advocates of criminal justice reform expressed concern about Garland’s nomination. According to Garland’s court records, they believe that Garland is too respectful and obedient to the government and law enforcement, and probably will not actively implement the drastic reforms they want to see.
In addition, the recent issue of racial equality has attracted attention.
Originally, African-American and Latinx supporters hoped that Biden could nominate people of African descent or people with a background in civil rights and criminal justice reform to serve as Attorney General.
Perhaps to address these concerns, Biden also nominated Gupta and Clark as senior Justice Department officials, both of whom have rich experience in civil rights, the New York Times pointed out.
These nominations also mean that these nominations also mean that work such as civil rights reform will be given priority in the new government.