Attorney General Merrick Garland was confirmed to the top post in the Department of Justice in March 2021 by a Senate vote of 70-30. Twenty Republicans crossed party lines to vote for President Joe Biden’s nominee, who was previously denied a seat on the Supreme Court during the Obama administration.
Here are the Republicans who voted to confirm Garland:
Sen. Roy Blunt
Sen. Richard Burr
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito
Sen. Bill Cassidy
Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. John Cornyn
Sen. Joni Ernst
Sen. Lindsey Graham
Sen. Chuck Grassley
Sen. Jim Inhofe
Sen. Ron Johnson
Sen. James Lankford
Leader Mitch McConnell
Sen. Jerry Moran
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Mitt Romney
Sen. Mike Rounds
Sen. John Thune
Sen. Thom Tillis
Garland, we were assured by the media, is a ‘moderate’. He and Biden pledged that the DOJ would remain ‘independent’. Some Republicans described him as a ‘respected’ man of ‘integrity’ and ‘character’.
Since his confirmation, Garland has overseen the rapid politicization of the DOJ. He announced in June that he was suing Georgia for its election integrity law, claiming that measures like requiring IDs for absentee ballots and prohibiting mailing out absentee ballots to all voters are discriminatory. He promised that the lawsuit was the ‘first of many steps.’ In September, the DOJ sued Texas over its law banning abortions after six weeks. Garland’s most recent overreach was a memo mobilizing the FBI against parents who protest at local school board meetings over the teaching of Critical Race Theory, mask and vaccine mandates, new transgender policies, and pornographic material in libraries.
‘While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,’ Garland wrote.
In his memo, Garland cited unnamed ‘threats’ and ‘violence’ against school board members, yet the National School Boards Association (NSBA) offered little evidence that parents are engaging in anything more than passionate protest in its initial request to the DOJ to look into the matter. The editorial board at the National Review correctly identified the DOJ memo as a ‘crass intimidation tactic’ against parents who speak out at school board meetings.
I reached out to all 20 Republicans who voted to confirm Garland to ask if they regret their votes given his recent actions. Not one offered a comment.
Plenty of them, though, had time to bluster on social media and television and in toothless letters about Garland’s use of the FBI to investigate and intimidate parents. Sen. Moran called Garland’s actions ‘inappropriate and troubling’ on Twitter. Sen. Lankford asserted that the DOJ should be going after ‘real acts of terrorism’ during a Newsmax interview. Sens. Cornyn, Grassley, Graham, and Tillis — all part of the Judiciary Committee — signed onto a letter expressing concern over the DOJ ‘policing the speech of citizens and concerned parents.’ Leader McConnell sent his own letter to Garland, saying that ‘telling elected officials they’re wrong is democracy, not intimidation.’
Former president Donald Trump took a similar tack in an exclusive interview with me earlier this week. He told me he was ‘surprised’ that the DOJ would go after parents while still asserting that Garland is a ‘good man’.
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