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Merrick Garland Has Become Donald Trump’s Legal Protector | #Education | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


Trump did near-fatal damage to the rule of law through his abuse of the Department of Justice. Let’s not forget that in the waning days of the Trump administration, DOJ lawyers hatched a harebrained, treasonous plan with the president to deny certification of the election and maintain Trump’s presidency. It was Trump’s Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, another onetime center-left icon, who gave direct orders to separate migrant children from their parents in order to try their parents in immigration court. Meanwhile, the Trump era saw all-time lows for white-collar crime enforcement, allowing the wealthy and well-connected to do with the nation as they pleased.

Garland ought to be undoing all of that damage—that is what Biden promised to do throughout his presidential campaign. But this is in deep tension with institutional norms at the DOJ which Garland, and many other elite lawyers, hold in high regard. If Garland sees his primary duty as reasserting the norms of the DOJ itself, rather than actually enacting justice, then he must treat Trump as if he was any other president, by definition. That’s what the DOJ does.

We’re seeing a scary example of how liberalism’s belief in process itself, rather than the ideals that processes are supposed to help execute, can be easily manipulated by bad-faith, far-right actors. When standard procedure is sacrosanct, all that the right needs to do is make it standard procedure never to hold it accountable. Notably, Garland consistently promised “that politics would play no role in his decisions” during his confirmation hearing, after numerous prompts by Senate Republicans. That’s intentional. The GOP was framing it as wrongfully partisan to reverse course from the most wrongful, partisan, and most importantly, anti-democratic president in history.

Garland, of all people, should be aware of this: It was a similar idolatry of process itself that robbed him of a Supreme Court seat in 2016. There was nothing technically illegal about then–Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denying Garland so much as a confirmation hearing; it was just clearly wrong, violating the spirit of representative democracy. Despite the fact that some legal theories held that the Senate was granting Garland consent through its inaction, Democrats—believing that responding in tit-for-tat fashion to the GOP’s norm-breaking would be intolerably ignoble—did not play a card in opposition. One would think that Garland would have learned that following norms matters less than actually doing the right thing, but here we are.

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