Story at a glance

  • During the hearing, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked Garland to share a private conversation they previously had and to speak about some of his own family’s history in confronting hate and discrimination.
  • “I feel an obligation to the country to pay back, and this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back,” Garland said Monday.
  • Garland pledged to make the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol his top priority if confirmed by the Senate, saying he would supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol.

Attorney General nominee judge Merrick Garland became emotional during his confirmation hearing on Monday while explaining why he wants to serve in the role to lawmakers. 

During the hearing, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked Garland to share a private conversation they previously had and to speak about some of his own family’s history in confronting hate and discrimination. 


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“I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. The country took us in and protected us,” Garland told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee while appearing to fight back tears. 

“And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back, and this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you’re saying I could become. I’ll do my best to try to be that kind of attorney general,” he said. 

In his opening statement, Garland pledged to make the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol his top priority if confirmed by the Senate, saying he would supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol. 

Garland also promised to fight the rising threat of domestic extremism and said he would pursue strong enforcement of civil-rights laws. 

Former President Obama in 2016 nominated Garland to fill the vacancy left by the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Republicans refused to give Garland a hearing at the time, arguing the winner of that year’s presidential election should decide who should fill the role.


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Published on Feb 22, 2021