Judicial Notice (09.23.23): Where Is The Love?
A celebrity professor's surprising engagement, Judge Newman's troubling suspension, Wachtell's exciting hire, and other legal news from the week that was.
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Now, on to the news.
Lawyer of the Week: Merrick Garland.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland testified at an oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee—and sparks flew. As you can see from the Washington Post’s video compilation of testimony highlights, he wasn’t afraid to mix it up with Republicans, who predictably grilled him about Hunter Biden—which he predictably declined to discuss. Instead, throughout his testimony, Garland stressed the integrity and independence of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), emphatically stating that he is “not the president’s lawyer”—and, at the same time, “not Congress’s prosecutor” either. (Reinforcing this theme is the Biden DOJ’s indictment of a prominent Democratic politician, Senator Robert Menendez, discussed in more detail below as Litigation of the Week.)
The nearly six hours of hearings weren’t fun for Garland, and by the end, his voice was “reduced to a ragged whisper,” in the words of Glenn Thrush of the New York Times. But on the whole, I think the proceedings went well for the AG. The Republicans didn’t emerge with any major “gotcha” exchanges, and the most viral clip was probably Garland responding angrily when Representative Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) insinuated that Garland and the DOJ were prejudiced against conservative Catholics. Said Garland, whose family fled Europe because of antisemitism and the Holocaust, “The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous—absurd!”
In past appearances on Capitol Hill, Attorney General Garland, a D.C. Circuit judge for decades before becoming AG, conducted himself very… judiciously. This time around, he was impatient, irascible, and indignant—and I think it worked. He seems to now realize that unlike the genteel judiciary, denizens of Capitol Hill don’t play by Marquess of Queensberry rules, and he must respond accordingly.
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