Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s candidate for attorney general, repeatedly avoided giving direct answers to questions from Republican senators during Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Garland sidestepped questions about the Durham investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, transgender athletes in high school sports, and whether crossing the border illegally should be a crime.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, asked Garland if he thinks illegally crossing the border should continue to be a crime.
“I haven’t thought about that question, I just haven’t thought about that question,” Garland said. “The president has made it clear that we are a nation with borders, with national security, I do not know of a proposal to decriminalize but it is still illegal to respond, I simply have not thought about it.”
Garland also refused to make a firm commitment to leaving Special Counsel John Durham in his place to continue his investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation. Garland said he “has no reason” to think that leaving Durham in place to continue his investigation was the wrong decision, but he refused to commit to a course of action.
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Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., pressed Garland to say whether or not the Durham investigation is legitimate, prompting the nominee to say, “I really don’t know anything about the investigation.”
“I think someone should see what happened regarding those FISAs and I think the inspector general has,” Garland added.
Garland was also asked about allowing biologically male athletes who identify as transgender to compete in female athletic contests.
Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Los Angeles, asked Garland if he agreed with the statement that “allowing biological men to compete in an exclusively female sport deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports and it is fundamentally unfair to female athletes. “
Garland declined to directly answer Kennedy’s question. “This is a very difficult social question that you are asking me here, I know what lies behind it,” Garland began with his answer.
“I know, but you’re going to be attorney general,” Kennedy replied.
“Well, but I may not be the one who has to make political decisions like that, not that I am averse to that. Look, I believe that every human being should be treated with dignity and respect. Their own character, but a primary sense of what required by law, “Garland replied.
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“The particular question of how Title IX is applied in schools is one that, in light of the Bostock case, which I know you are very familiar with, is something that I would have to consider when I have the opportunity to do so. I have not had the opportunity to consider these kinds of issues in my career thus far, but I agree that this is a difficult question, “Garland replied.
President Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office that asked schools to allow transgender athletes to compete on women’s sports teams.