Merrick Garland One Step Nearer To Lawyer Common Put up

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s election as attorney general, Merrick Garland, moved one step closer to Senate confirmation as chief US law enforcement officer on Monday as the Justice Committee put its weight behind his nomination.

The federal appeals judge won bipartisan support on a 15-7 tally in the Senate Judiciary Committee to push his Senate nomination for a vote that Democrats hope will take place sometime this week. Among the four Republicans who voted for Garland were two former committee chairs, Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham.

It drew the support of the committee’s Democrats, while seven Republicans voted no.

Garland has been nominated to head a Department of Justice that is currently amid intense investigations into the January 6 attack by former Republican President Donald Trump on the US Capitol – an incident Garland has described as “hideous”. The rampage interrupted Congress’ formal confirmation of Biden’s election victory over Trump.

He has also pledged to revitalize the civil rights division of the division, which critics say was undermined during Trump’s presidency for not defending the right to vote or investigating systematic abuses by law enforcement agencies.

Last week, the Civil Rights Division said it was examining hate crime investigations into the rising number of incidents against Asian American citizens. Trump repeatedly referred to COVID-19, which was caused by the “China virus”.

Unlike former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, who told Congress last year he doesn’t believe systemic racism plagues the U.S. criminal justice system, Garland testified that he believes the system is not created equal to all Americans treated.

Garland, a former federal attorney, is widely expected to receive confirmation. The 2016 Republican-controlled Senate declined to consider Garland’s nomination by former Democratic President Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court. In this way, in 2017 the Republicans enabled Trump to fill a position on the Supreme Court with a conservative judiciary.

On March 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to hold a confirmation hearing for Lisa Monaco and Vanita Gupta, Biden’s decision to serve in the top Justice Department jobs # 2 and # 3.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Scott Malone and Sonya Hepinstall)

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