March 10, 2021

Van Hollen Statement for the Record on the Confirmation of Merrick Garland to Serve as Attorney General

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) submitted the following statement for the congressional record on his vote to confirm Merrick Garland to serve as Attorney General: 

“I rise today to voice my support for the President’s nominee for Attorney General, Judge Merrick Garland, who’s not only a fellow Marylander, but somebody I have known personally for many years. And I know that President Biden has picked a nominee with impeccable credentials and unimpeachable character. His experience stretches from the halls of the Justice Department to the chambers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – and he embodies the decency, the impartiality, and the commitment to justice that our nation deserves as the Attorney General of the United States. I am confident that Judge Garland will serve admirably and faithfully as the next Attorney General.

“The nation already knows Merrick Garland because of his Supreme Court nomination and as the former Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he earned a reputation as one of our nation’s finest and fairest jurists. But his tenure on the D.C. Circuit was just the most recent achievement in a life dedicated to serving the rule of law. After excelling at law school, Judge Garland clerked for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and then for the Supreme Court. He then rose through the ranks of a prominent law firm before jumping back into public service feet-first as a federal prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office during the Administration of President George Hebert Walker Bush, and then later served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice.

“As a senior DOJ official, Judge Garland was tasked with overseeing the case of the Oklahoma City bombing, one of the deadliest domestic terrorist attacks in American history. It left 168 Americans dead and hundreds more injured. Merrick Garland brought a steady hand to an operation that involved massive amounts of evidence, pressure from the public, and a large team with diverse skills and backgrounds. With fidelity to the law and meticulous attention to detail and unrelenting focus, Merrick Garland helped bring the bomber, Timothy McVeigh, to justice. He has called this case the most important thing he has done in his life. 

“We are going to need Judge Garland’s experience as we once again confront the rise of domestic terrorism, particularly in the wake of the horrific events of January 6th. And the next Attorney General must not only take on the rise of white supremacists and radical militia groups, but also ensure that justice is rendered equally and fairly by promoting and ensuring racial equity, rooting out discrimination in our criminal justice system, addressing police reform, and ensuring that we don’t see a concerted effort to limit people’s citizens’ right to vote in the United States of America. As Justice Garland has himself stated, ensuring the rule of law and making real the promise of equal justice under the law are, 'the great principles upon which the Department of Justice was founded and for which it must always stand.' Judge Garland has spent his career doing both, and I have no doubt he will honor that tradition as Attorney General.

“During Judge Garland’s confirmation hearing his commitment to public service and ensuring equal justice were on display. He shared that he felt an obligation to payback our country for protecting and welcoming his grandparents who fled to the United States to escape anti-Semitism and persecution. He stated that serving as an Attorney General that combats injustice and discrimination would be “the highest, best use of my own set of skills.” 

“While his professional experiences have prepared him for this job – it’s his character that makes him right for this moment. Should he be confirmed, Judge Garland will be charged with restoring credibility and independence to the Department of Justice, making it clear that the Department is not the political instrument of the White House. I know Merrick Garland is up to the task. The lengthy list of testimonials speaking to his fairness and sound judgement span the political spectrum. He is respected by lawmakers, scholars, and lawyers of every legal persuasion and political philosophy. And on a personal note, I can attest to the fact that his brilliance is matched by his kindness. His many achievements have never gone to his head. He has always stayed humble and treated everyone with respect.

“It is for these reasons and many more that I am honored to vote for the President’s nominee to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States, Judge Merrick Garland.”