Garland Outlines What Would Be His Priorities as Attorney General

At his confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland promised to combat domestic extremism and pursue strong enforcement of civil-rights laws and described his personal motivations.

Video Transcript

- Judge Garland, how does it feel to finally be getting your Senate confirmation hearing?

MERRICK GARLAND: The Civil Rights Act of 1957 created the Department's Civil Rights Division with a mission to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society. That mission, on the website of the Department's Civil Rights Division, remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice. Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, in education, in employment, and in the criminal justice system. And they bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change.

150 years after the Department's founding, battling extremist attacks on our democratic institutions also remains central to the Department's mission. From 1995 to 1997, I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the federal government. If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.

CORY BOOKER: I'm wondering if you could just conclude by answering the question about your motivation and maybe some of your own family history in confronting hate and discrimination in American history.

MERRICK GARLAND: Yes, senator. So, you know, I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. A country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back. And this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back.

And so I want very much to be the kind of Attorney General that you're saying I could become. I'll do my best to try to be that kind of Attorney General.