Senator Carper Voices His Strong Support for Judge Merrick Garland and the Need for an Independent DOJ
Mar 10 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), expressed his strong support for Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States. In his remarks, Senator Carper emphasized Judge Garland’s exceptional qualifications and his reputation on both sides of the aisle as a fair and principled judge. Senator Carper also highlighted the dire need to restore integrity and independence at the Department of Justice after four years under the Trump Administration.
“The past four years, to put it mildly, broke the longstanding precedent that has enabled the Department of Justice to operate above the political fray. The Attorney General of the United States became the Attorney general for Donald Trump,” said Senator Carper. “When our nation's top law enforcement official becomes little more than a political fixer for the president, it erodes the principle of equal justice under law and calls into question the mission of the department. The next attorney general must meet these challenges head on to restore integrity to the Justice department and to work every day to restore the trust of the American people.”
Senator Carper added, “President Biden has nominated Judge Garland—not just one of the finest public servants I have ever met, but one of the finest people I have ever met—to be the next Attorney General. Judge Garland will bring a wealth of legal, law enforcement, and judicial experience to the Department of Justice that make him uniquely qualified to lead the Department at this critical moment. Judge Garland will be an attorney general for all Americans. He will not shy away from the challenges facing the justice department. He will meet them head on.”
Senator Carper’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below and can also be viewed here.
“Mr. President, I rise today regarding the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to be United States Attorney General, and to describe the challenges confronting the United States Department of Justice. DOJ, as it’s often called, is unlike any other federal agency. It is charged with protecting the constitutional rights and civil rights of all Americans.
“The past four years, to put it mildly, broke the longstanding precedent that has enabled the Department of Justice to operate above the political fray. The Trump Justice Department joined a misguided lawsuit to take away health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans; The Trump Justice Department oversaw a cruel set of immigration policies that separated young children from their parents at our southern border and locked these children in cages; And the Trump Justice Department remained painfully silent as our nation cried out for racial justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.
“After the firing of Attorney General Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States became the Attorney General for Donald Trump. When our nation’s top law enforcement official becomes nothing more than a political fixer for the president, it erodes the principle of equal justice under the law and calls into question the mission of the Department.
“In the waning days of the Trump Administration, with nearly half a million Americans dead from the coronavirus, a swarm of white supremacists and other extremists stormed our Capitol, and disrupted our peaceful transfer of power. Five people died during the January 6th insurrection, including a United States Capitol Police Officer. Our nation must now bring the perpetrators to justice, and address the root causes in our society that enables white supremacism and online extremism to fuel hate and violence.
“Mr. President, the next Attorney General cannot shy away from these historic challenges. The next Attorney General must meet this challenges head on, restore integrity to the Justice Department, and gain back the trust of the American people.
“President Biden has nominated Judge Garland—not just one of the finest public servants I have ever met, but one of the finest people I have ever met—to be the next Attorney General. His name should be familiar to many of our colleagues because President Obama nominated him to serve on the Supreme Court in 2016. At the time, I called him perhaps the most qualified individual ever nominated to our nation’s highest court. I still believe that to this day.
“Judge Garland graduated at the top of his class at both Harvard undergrad and Harvard Law School. He clerked for Justice Brennan on the Supreme Court. And, after a time in private practice, he worked at the Department of Justice where he prosecuted the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing. Judge Garland called this, and I quote, ‘The most important thing I have ever done in my life.’
“In 1997, Republicans and Democrats joined together to confirm Judge Garland to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—what is often called the ‘second-highest court in the land.’ Judge Garland has served honorably and dutifully for the past 24 years on the DC Circuit, including several years as Chief Judge. Judge Garland has gained the respect of all of his colleagues—left, right, and center—as someone who knows the law and never allows politics into the courtroom. Judge Garland works to build consensus and find principled compromises.
“Judge Garland will bring a wealth of legal, law enforcement, and judicial experience to the Department of Justice that make him uniquely qualified to lead the Department at this critical moment. Judge Garland will be an Attorney General for all Americans. He will not shy away from the challenges facing the Justice Department; he will meet them head on.
“At the top of Judge Garland’s to-do list is bringing the perpetrators of the January 6th insurrection to justice. Judge Garland will make sure that the Department stays out of the political fray, and remains independent from the White House. And Judge Garland will answer the calls for racial justice, and re-focus the Department on one of its core missions to protect the civil rights and voting rights of all Americans.
“Mr. President, while I will never truly forget the shameful treatment of Judge Garland during his previous nomination and, in my heart, I will always believe that he should be serving on the Supreme Court, I am grateful that Judge Garland has answered the call to serve.
“I ask our colleagues to join me to vote to confirm Judge Garland, a fine public servant and even better person, to serve as our next Attorney General. Mr. President, I yield the floor.”