The confirmation hearings for Joe Biden’s Attorney General pick, Merrick Garland, haven’t exactly been informative. (To put it mildly.) Like many nominees before him, Garland is clearly seeking to avoid answering questions on any politically divisive issues that might give some of the senators a reason to vote against him. At least two examples of this behavior cropped up yesterday, with the first having to do with illegal immigration. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) first asked Garland if he believed that illegal entry into the country “should remain a crime.” The hemming and hawing that Garland offered in response was rather embarrassing to watch, culminating with a few variations of saying that he didn’t know because he’d never really thought about it. His answer to a follow-up question about whether he plans to prosecute anyone for jumping the border was equally uninspiring. (Daily Wire)
“Do you believe that illegal entry at America’s borders should remain a crime?” Hawley asked.
“Well, I haven’t thought about that question,” Garland responded. “I just haven’t thought about that question. I think, you know, the president has made clear that we are a country of, with borders, and with a concern about national security. I don’t know of a proposal to decriminalize, but still make it unlawful to enter. I just don’t know the answer to that question. I haven’t thought about it.”
This tweet from John Cooper has the video of that exchange. You’ll want to turn on the audio to get the full effect of just how feckless these answers were.
Senator Harley: “Do you believe illegal entry at America’s borders should remain a crime?”
Judge Merrick Garland: “I haven’t thought about that question.”
Garland wants to be our top law enforcement officer. pic.twitter.com/kPAAMSGrcI
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) February 22, 2021
Here’s the text of the answer to the follow-up question about prosecutions. Keep in mind that this guy is asking to be the top law enforcement officer in the country.
“Well, this is again, a question of allocation of resources,” Garland responded. “We will, the department will prevent unlawful crossing. I don’t know. I you know, I have to admit I just don’t know exactly what the conditions are and how this is done. I think if I don’t know what the current program even is with respect to this, if there, so I assume that the answer would be yes, but I don’t know what the issues around surrounding it are.”
The Attorney General is charged with enforcing the nation’s laws. He or she doesn’t get to change the laws because that’s the job of the legislative branch. Illegal border crossings are in the news and the subject of political debate on a daily basis, but Merrick Garland has never even thought about the subject and doesn’t know “what the current program is?” Yeah, it really sounds like this guy is ready to hit the ground running on day one, doesn’t it? Merrick Garland served on the D.C. Circuit Court for more than a quarter of a century. Are you telling me that he’s never heard a case relating to immigration in that entire time?
There was another subject that came up where Garland supposedly doesn’t know much and hasn’t given any thought to it. That would be the question of transgender athletes competing against actual females in school sporting events. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana asked if Garland would agree that such activity “deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports.” Garland’s answer to that one was no better than his ducking and dodging on illegal immigration. (National Review)
“This is a very difficult societal question you’re asking here,” Garland responded.
“I know, but you’re going to be attorney general,” Kennedy said. Garland objected that he “may not be the one who has to make policy decisions” regarding the issue.
“I think every human being should be treated with dignity and respect,” Garland added. “The particular question of how Title IX applies in schools…is something that I would have to look at when I have the chance to do that. I’ve not had the chance to consider these kinds of issues in my career so far.”
Here’s the uncomfortable video from that exchange, posted by Albert Mohler.
There is run of the mill evasion, and then there is this kind of evasion. No profile in courage here. https://t.co/xWddJStey7
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) February 23, 2021
He’ll “look at it when he has the chance to.” Presumably when he’s already been confirmed and it’s too late to do anything about it. As Mohler suggests, this wasn’t exactly a “Profiles in Courage” moment in the Senate.