A coalition of former federal judges, including two from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, is urging the U.S. Senate to confirm Judge Merrick Garland as the U.S. Attorney General, describing him as having a “strong moral compass and abiding integrity.”
The judges, appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents, sent a letter to majority and minority leaders of the upper chamber as well as the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Thursday. They highlighted Garland’s career milestones like clerking for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan and his time in the Department of Justice where he oversaw the “most significant and consequential prosecutions of our time” including the Oklahoma City bombing.
“Judge Garland approaches the law with an unwavering commitment to fairness and justice,” the judges stated in their letter. “Those of us who have worked directly with Judge Garland have seen firsthand his strong moral compass and abiding integrity.”
Garland’s confirmation hearing in the Senate began Monday.
Currently, Garland is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court. In 2016, the Obama administration nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
However, Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation, saying filling a seat on the high court was inappropriate during a president’s final year in office. The Republican majority reversed itself in October 2020, when it hurriedly confirmed 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court during the final months of the administration of former President Donald Trump.
Among the 61 former jurists signing the letter of support were retired 7th Circuit judges John Tinder and Ann Claire Williams. Tinder served on the bench in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana before being confirmed to the 7th Circuit from 2007 through 2015, and Williams, a Notre Dame Law School graduate, served on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, then on the 7th Circuit from 1999 to 2017.
The letter highlighted Garland’s pledge to lead the Department of Justice independent of politics and to pursue equal justice for all.
“Our institutions, particularly the Judiciary and the United States Department of Justice, are foundational to upholding the rule of law,” the former judges wrote. “We believe that Judge Garland’s leadership of the Department of Justice will ensure that the Department can and will effectively carry out its mission.”