Today the Senate will vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to be Attorney General of the United States. I will oppose this nomination.
I was open-minded, at first, about Judge Garland’s nomination. He has long had a reputation as a fair-minded Judge. But since being nominated, my confidence in Judge Garland has been undermined. First by his evasive, haughty refusal to answer some of the most basic questions we would expect from an Attorney General. The kind of evasion he would never allow in his own courtroom—so why should we allow it in the United States Senate? And second, when he did answer questions, he sounded more like a liberal ideologue who would embrace the radical agenda of the Democratic party’s far left base. If confirmed, I’m afraid that he’ll enable extremists in the Justice Department to undermine our police, our Constitution, and our rule of law. This weak-on-crime nominee will fan the flames of our nation’s drug crisis, border crisis, and violent crime crisis. And he’s made clear that on the greatest challenges facing the Department, he’ll cede the reins to the radical, far-left culture warriors that President Biden has nominated to be some of his top deputies. Our nation simply cannot afford Judge Garland as our Attorney General.
In the last 12 months on record, over 83,000 Americans died from drug overdoses—more than any year in history. Drug overdoses killed more Americans in a single year than the Vietnam War and the War on Terror combined. Yet Judge Garland plans to reduce prison sentences for drug dealers, traffickers, and gang members.
Judge Garland appears to believe that these merchants of misery engage in a “victimless” trade – but virtually every family and community in our nation bears the scars that prove otherwise. Whether it’s the disabled child, addicted parent, suffering sibling, recovering neighbor, or deceased friend—the victims of drug crime are everywhere we look. Drug traffickers are hardly engaged in a non-violent offense. Their practice is intimidation, their product is poison, and their customer service is the barrel of a gun. With Judge Garland as Attorney General, these criminals will go free, their business will boom, and the violence and death in our streets will continue.
And it’s not just fentanyl and heroin driving this crisis anymore—in the wake of the weakening of our drug trafficking laws under ill-advised laws like the First Step Act, drug overdose deaths are linked to other drugs as well, like cocaine, which is sharply increasing. Cocaine is now outpacing heroin as a leading cause of drug overdoses, and meth is outpacing both. Judge Garland will release these criminals back onto the streets in the middle of the worst drug epidemic in our nation’s history. These pain-profiteers don’t deserve leniency and should be kept far away from the communities they victimized. Many should frankly count themselves lucky that they aren’t charged with murder.
And while Judge Garland endorses President Biden’s call for “racial equity”—not “equality,” but “equity,”—Judge Garland’s agenda will hurt vulnerable minority communities most of all. Drug overdose deaths disproportionately affect minority communities, as does violent crime. Judge Garland’s confirmation, like the confirmation of some of his top deputies, would be a gift to the cartels, street gangs, and drug trafficking networks that perpetuate violence and the destruction we see in our streets. And even those who want the government to go easier on drug dealer and drug traffickers, should be concerned about Judge Garland’s stated plan to dismantle mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers. In addition to deterrence, one important justification for creating mandatory sentence ranges was to reduce racial disparities in how minority drug traffickers were sentenced.
But Judge Garland doesn’t stop there. He also supports President Biden’s extreme open-borders amnesty agenda. At Judge Garland’s confirmation hearing, he was asked if entering the country illegally should be a crime. You would think that would be a very simple question. But Judge Garland responded that he “hadn’t thought about it.” Hadn’t thought about it. It stretches the bounds of belief that a federal judge who has been on the bench for nearly a quarter century “hadn’t thought” about that question. Or that any American with common-sense who believes in our borders and believes in our sovereignty, hadn’t thought whether it should be a crime to cross our border illegally. But, to give him the benefit of the doubt, I asked in a written question after the hearing—he had nearly a week to think about it — seems like it’s a pretty easy research question — should illegally entering our country be a crime? And he said, conveniently, even then, that he hadn’t thought about it. Judge Garland also refused to say whether illegal alien gang members or illegal aliens who have assaulted U.S. citizens should be deported if a judge orders it.
Judge Garland’s silence shows that he will, at best, meekly abide by the administration’s irrational immigration agenda. He will help transform Zero Tolerance into Total Tolerance of crime, and his inaction will only further advance the administration’s “Recruit and Release” policies at our border, where we don’t just allow illegal aliens into our country after catching them at our border, we go back and find them in Mexico, invite them to return to the border, and then release them into the country. This will attract an ever-growing surge of illegal migration, and will result in more drugs and criminal aliens entering our country. As we see with the Biden Border Crisis growing worse every day.
Of course the vast majority of meth, heroin, and cocaine—and a large quantity of fentanyl—is smuggled across the southern border each year. As our border facilities and personnel are overwhelmed by the Biden Border Surge, our security will falter and even more drugs will pour into our nation.
Hardened criminals will accompany the flood of drugs from the Rio Grande. Thousands of confirmed and suspected gang members cross the southern border into our country—and even more will exploit the open border policies that Judge Garland will have a hand in creating. This will fuel skyrocketing violence in our nation.
Last year, we experienced the largest single increase in murder in American history, the largest single increase in murders in our country’s history. Preliminary data from the FBI indicates that there was a 20 percent increase, 20 percent increase, in murder nationwide. In big cities, it was even worse: murders rose in Atlanta by 60 percent, in Chicago by 50 percent, in New York City by 45 percent, and in D.C. by 40 percent. There were also, I would add, over 500 violent riots last year that injured over 2,000 law-enforcement officers.
Our police need our support more than ever before—but they wouldn’t get it from a Garland Department of Justice. Personnel is policy, and Judge Garland has allowed two left-wing radicals to be selected as his chief lieutenants in the Department of Justice. Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke both support defunding, disarming, and defaming our police. They stand with the perpetrators of crime—not with the victims of it. There’s little doubt that Judge Garland would empower these left-wing radicals embedded inside the department.
In response to written questions from the Judiciary Committee, Judge Garland also responded with some variation of “I don’t know,” “I haven’t studied the issue,” “I’m not familiar,” “I haven’t thought about it,” “I’m not aware of,” or refused to comment altogether, over 250 times, again this is a sitting federal judge of almost a quarter century with a vast retinue of the country’s best lawyers at his disposal for a week to answer written questions and over 250 times he couldn’t answer the question. That was more than one-third of questions that I and my colleagues asked him. Judge Garland may not have thought about these questions or how he would run the Justice Department, but I bet Ms. Gupta and Ms. Clarke have—and they’ll gladly fill this void of purpose with their radical ideology. The Garland Justice Department will make America less safe.
And at the same time, Judge Garland would work to weaken our Second Amendment. At his hearing, he repeatedly refused to explain how he would deal with the Second Amendment. While he acknowledged, accurately, that it would be tough to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Washington, D.C. v. Heller, which affirmed Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment, he said he “can’t promise” that he won’t try to overturn it. He also said he just doesn’t know whether President Biden has the authority to ban certain semi-automatic rifles—some of the most popular sporting firearms today— he doesn’t know if President Biden has the authority to ban them by executive order. He’s also said he’s just “not familiar” with whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—which would report to him if he is confirmed, I would remind everyone—would have the authority to indefinitely delay approving gun sales to Americans who have not had any flags show up in their background checks. Once again, Judge Garland demonstrated through his evasion that he would bow to the radical left, to the detriment of normal law abiding American citizens.
So, I urge every senator who believes in the Second Amendment and the rule of law—and who cares about stopping crime in our streets—to reject Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for Attorney General. Now is not the time for weakness, evasion, and obfuscation from our nation’s foremost law enforcement officer. We need strength, resolve, and certainty. Our nation needs — and deserves — a better nominee for Attorney General.
I will oppose his nomination.