Biden to nominate Merrick Garland as Attorney General: What this could mean for Latinos
Also, will he prosecute Trump?
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President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland to be the next Attorney General of the United States, tapping a former prosecutor and proven moderate to lead the Department of Justice.
It would be a move away from a department riddled in accusations of political interference and internal conflicts under current AG William Barr.
Garland is best known for being nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama in 2016, after Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing. However, Senate Republicans declined to give him a hearing, and the Court position was eventually filled by Trump’s pick — Neil M. Gorsuch — in 2017.
Politico was the first to break the news of Biden’s pending announcement, writing that Biden selected Garland over former Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and former deputy AG Sally Yates, instead choosing the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals in D.C. to run the Justice Department.
Jones was a top pick because of his strong relationships across the aisle. But now with the Senate flipped after two upset victories in Georgia, reports say Garland’s nomination came easier to Biden, and a formal declaration could come within days.
But things won’t necessarily be easy for Garland.
Should he be confirmed, he will inherit a myriad of pressing legislation by both parties, and the question of whether he will prosecute President Donald Trump. Many say this is warranted for potential obstruction of justice exposed in the Mueller Report, tax fraud allegations, and shady business dealings.
Should Garland be sworn in he will also leave an opening on the critical federal appeals court, but a Senate majority also makes it likely for Biden to get nominees for both posts and the federal court.
To have Garland nominated to Attorney General as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who blocked his path to the Supreme Court — just lost control of the Senate is, as some people have put it, a full circle.
Merrick Garland being nominated to attorney general as Mitch McConnell, who stopped him from having a chance at being a Supreme Court justice, loses his Senate majority leader title is some weird full-circle stuff.— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) January 6, 2021
His nomination also comes with much for Latinos and BIPOC individuals to consider.
It is yet unclear how Garland's selection will be received by Black and Latino advocates who had been petitioning for Biden to tap a Black Attorney General or someone with a background in civil rights and criminal justice reform.
For years the Justice Department has received criticism on only civil rights issues and an overhaul of national policing policies after months of Black Lives Matter demonstrations over George Floyd, and other high-profile killings of Black Americans at the hand of law enforcement.
That is the climate Garland will inherit, but we have some sense of where he stands on specific issues of immigration reform.
In 2016, when Garland was last in full view of the public, he expressed interest in supporting the then-relatively new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative.
In 2016, Latinos had — and continue to have — a lot at stake. From major cases on affirmative action, executive action on immigration, reproductive rights, and cases on racial bias.
At that time, the National Council of La Raza’s president called Garland “eminently qualified and perhaps one of the most experienced candidates to have ever received a Supreme Court nomination.”
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) expressed its own support at the time, writing: “President Obama has performed his constitutional duty in nominating a highly experienced jurist to the court. Now the Senate must perform its duty to consider this nominee without delay. The stakes are much too high for senators to disregard that obligation.”
The Hispanic Caucus, The Hispanic Federation, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), also endorsed him for the Supreme Court role in 2016.
Of course, several appeals like this failed, and Garland’s path was obstructed. What ensued were cases like DACA, which during the Trump administration was rescinded, leaving Dreamers in limbo.
Now, with a Democratic-controlled House, Senate, and Presidency, they are likely out of the hole, and Biden can now pursue and enact his promises made over the campaign trail, including a 100-day moratorium on deportations, and introducing legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship.
Garland, if confirmed, will likely play a big role in these upcoming decisions.