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merrick garland

Judge who Obama wanted to appoint to Supreme Court confirmed as Biden's Attorney General

The Senate voted 70 to 30 to confirm the appeals court judge to the top Justice Department post.

THE US SENATE has confirmed Merrick Garland to be Joe Biden’s attorney general, five years after the veteran judge was controversially denied a seat on the Supreme Court.

The Senate voted 70 to 30 to confirm the appeals court judge to the top Justice Department post.

Among the 20 Republicans approving the nomination was Senator Mitch McConnell, who in 2016, as the then-Senate majority leader, blocked Democratic president Barack Obama from seating Garland on the nation’s highest court.

Garland, 68, is a respected, moderately liberal judge.

He was a senior official in the Justice Department before being named a judge nearly 24 years ago.

In his confirmation hearing, Garland said fighting domestic extremism would be his “first priority” if confirmed as attorney general.

After supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on 6 January, Garland said far-right extremism today was worse than when he investigated the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that left 168 dead.

He said there was a direct line between that attack and the assault on Congress by Trump supporters seeking to prevent certification of Biden’s presidential election victory.

Garland also pledged to keep the department free of politics after alleged repeated interference by Trump.

He said an “urgent” task of the department was to ensure equal justice for minorities and people of colour, in an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Minorities still face discrimination in housing, education and the jobs market, and disproportionately suffer the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, Garland told the panel.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1957 created the department’s Civil Rights Division, with the mission ‘to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly some of the most vulnerable members of our society,’” Garland said.

“That mission remains urgent because we do not yet have equal justice.”

The Senate also confirmed Biden’s pick to be secretary of housing and urban development.

Marcia Fudge, a Democratic congresswoman from Ohio, will be the first Black woman to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development in more than 40 years.

Fudge was confirmed by a 66 to 34 vote.

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