President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Judge Merrick Garland for U.S. attorney general but a former Justice Dept attorney predicts the federal agency will run hard to the left under new leadership.
In 2016, then-President Obama nominated Judge Garland for Supreme Court justice after the death of Antonin Scalia but the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused to hold hearings to consider the nomination.
Five years later, Democrats remain angry over McConnell’s refusal and still claim Garland was wrongly denied a seat on the high court.
Garland is currently chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals to the D.C. Circuit.
"Is Garland going to run the Justice Department the way Eric Holder did when Biden was vice president?" Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation, asks rhetorically.
Spakovsky, who worked at the Justice Dept, served as counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights prior to joining Heritage in 2008.
That is a fair question, he says, because politics “drove the decision-making” during Obama’s two terms, and Garland deserves to be questioned about politicizing the powerful agency.
During the Obama era, the GOP-led House held Holder in contempt after he refused, despite a subpoena, to turn over documents related to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation. It marked the first time the head of the Justice Dept was held in contempt by Congress.
A CNN story praising Garland said he is described as “above reproach” when it comes to politics, and Biden views him in the light, too, the article claims.
Even if Garland tries to run from politics, Spakovsky questions how that would be possible if two prominent figures, Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, are confirmed and given huge responsibilities. Gupta would serve as associate attorney general, the department’s No. 3 official, and Clarke would lead the Civil Rights Division.
Gupta previously ran the Civil Rights Division under Obama and Clarke is currently president of the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a typical far-left legal group vowing "justice" for liberal causes.
"I know them,” Spakovsky says, “and they are two of the most radical left-wing ideologues I've encountered in Washington.”
Citing one example of left-wing ideology, Spakovsky says the Obama-era DOJ allowed Ivy League universities to openly discriminate against well-qualified Asian students in their admissions polices but the Trump DOJ, he says, started going after the universities for doing so.
“So my question to Garland,” he says, “would be, Are you going to continue these investigations and these lawsuits or are you going to end them because you believe that kind of racial discrimination is acceptable?'"