Senate confirms Merrick Garland

The Senate has voted to confirm Merrick Garland as Attorney General. The vote was 70-30.

Garland thus failed to win a majority of Republican Senators. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton were among those who voted no.

Cruz explained that despite Garland’s reputation for integrity, he had “refused to make clear that he would stand against the politicization of the department, which we saw during the Obama-Biden years.” Cotton was concerned that even with Garland’s reputation as a fair-minded judge, he’s likely to embrace a radical agenda at the DOJ.

These concerns are reasonable. Moreover, I think Garland’s reputation for moderation is overblown, in my view.

Still, I would have voted to confirm Garland. A president should have the Attorney General of his choice unless that choice is unqualified, of poor moral character, or outside the mainstream of legal thinking on the president’s side of the political divide.

Under this standard, Garland should be confirmed.

Will Garland stand up to the radicals Biden has selected for key positions below the AG level — nominees like Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke? I suspect not.

But I don’t consider suspicion reason enough to reject a president’s choice for his Cabinet. In any case, Garland is probably more likely to push back against aspects of the left’s agenda than just about anyone else Biden would contemplate nominating.

It doesn’t bother me, though, that so many GOP Senators voted against confirming Garland. Forty-seven Democrats voted against Jeff Sessions’ confirmation. Forty-five voted against William Barr’s. Both nominees were qualified, of good moral character, and within the mainstream of legal thinking on President Trump’s side of the political divide.

Senate Republicans are well within their rights if they follow the Democrats’ standard for voting on nominees for AG. The Dems’ standard is basically this: Are you aligned with us ideologically?

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