WTF, Merrick Garland? Seriously?

I was pleased when Merrick Garland was nominated to be Attorney General. I was pleased when his nomination was confirmed. I am not pleased now.

First, about a month ago U.S. District for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson called for a memo written by former AG Bill Barr to be made public. We can infer from the judge’s remarks that the memo revealed something shady about how Barr decided to clear Trump on obstruction of justice charges. Yes, show us that memo! But Merrick Garland appealed that decision and chose to release only a small part of the memo, most of it redacted.

Well, that was odd. Then things got worse.

You’ll remember that E. Jean Carroll, a jounralist and advice columnist, accused Trump of raping her back in the 1990s. Trump called her a liar. Carroll sued for defamation. So far, pretty run of the mill Trump stuff.

Then Bill Barr’s Justice Department argued that Trump is immune from Carroll’s lawsuit because his denial of her allegations — basically, calling her a liar and saying she was “not my type” —  were made “within the scope of his office or employment” as president of the United States. It was official presidential business, in other words. Further, the Department of Justice itself was preparing to defend Trump in court as if it was Trump’s personal law firm.

This is obvious hooey on steroids. Yet AG Garland is going to continue this farce and defend Trump’s comments as official presidential business.

Garland was asked about this in a Senate hearing this afternoon. Here is what he said:

“Look the job of the Justice Department in making decisions of law is not is not to back any administration, previous or present …  And the essence of the rule of law is what I said when I accepted the nomination for attorney general, it is that like cases be treated alike, that there not the one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, that there not be one rule for friends and another for foes,” Garland said in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont.

That’s not an answer. Maybe he’s trying to avoid an appearance that the Department of Justice is politicized. But hooey is hooey.

Well, today the Justice Department also declared it would defend — no, “vigorously” defend — religious exemptions for Christian schools that receive government money and discriminate against LGBTQ students. Garland thinks they should be able to discriminae and keep the money, in other words.

I can’t even. Maybe we should be grateful Garland didn’t make it to the Supreme Court.

4 thoughts on “WTF, Merrick Garland? Seriously?

  1. Its been said, and justified, that the democratic party specializes in finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.   For his part, Garland is doing some heavy lifting here to get that done.  The basis for the argument kind of makes sense: Trump was sued for defamation, for something he said as President and thus should be defended by the government.  This is based on the assumption that what he said in pushing back on Jean Carroll's rape accusation that got him slapped with the defamation suit was in his official capacity as President.  That was Barr's absurd argument I believe, in getting the suit into federal court.  If that's the case, then is anything someone says or does while president is "official" and thus defensible by the DOJ?  When Bill Clinton lied in his deposition, he was president.  Was he acting in his official capacity?  Apparently not.  

    But instead of not allowing Barr's machinations that got this case in federal court in the first place to continue to taint the DOJ, Garland, steeped in "fairness" is picking up where Barr, the crookedest AG since John Mitchell, left off.  In his non-answer answer that fooled no one, he insisted it was about treating "administrations" the same.  But what about doing what's right for a change?  Isn't that one reason the voters voted Trump out?

    This is yet another nail in the coffin of the democratic party's viability as a major political party.  They've been flummoxed on the infrastructure plan, Jan 6 commission, voting rights, and the filibuster.  They're politely "reaching across the aisle" while the GOP throws bombs at them.  It'll be interesting to see what their message will be to voters to motivate them to come out in 2022, let alone 2024.


  2. Rachel covered this in depth last night.

    And she was about as happy at this turn of events as you and me, maha ("…  you and I?" G-DAMN, I used to remember this rule!!!  Oh, forget it…).

    Someone on Nicole Wallace's show gave some sort of DoJ rational for legally covering for (dis)Barr, but I can't say it made any damn sense to me.

    But what do I know?  I can't remember rules of grammar I spout from memory, back when I was a teen.


  3. I saw an analysis of this, and what it said was, basically, "the DOJ doesn't ever want to make it seem that a legal argument is entirely partisan" – judges who find the DOJ flips opinions, the instant a new President is sworn in, will be less willing to consider the DOJ to be acting in good faith.

    I'm not saying that's a *sufficient* reason. We can be nearly certain the decision to shield Trump was naked, partisan, politics.

    Still: if there was ever a time to force the SCOTUS to answer "can the President be sued for clear, obvious, defamation, when speaking as a dirtbag, rather than as President?" it would be now: when a Republican has claimed it, but a Democrat holds the Presidency.

  4. On the LGBTQ item, I posed the issue at LGM and apparently there are good reasons for the DOJ to take on that case. If they didn't defend the Christian schools it might make the situation even worse.

    For example this Slate article was posted:

    And apparently:

    "Arguably the government can't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation per modern jurisprudence, but that doesn't go so far as to say an entity that receives money from the government can't discriminate."

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