Republicans on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee asked Attorney General Merrick Garland pointed questions during a four-hour hearing on Wednesday, over whether Garland did enough to stop the harassment of Supreme Court justices and whether the Justice Department has been politicized.
During his testimony, Garland took questions from Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah over how he reacted to threats to Supreme Court justices after a draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision was leaked. Lee also questioned Garland over his response to attacks on pregnancy resource centers and churches.
Mike Lee asks about harassment of justices
Lee asked Garland why no one has been arrested under federal law for trying to influence the Supreme Court justices’ decisions by picketing and protesting near their homes. Garland responded by saying he asked federal marshals to guard the justices at their homes around the clock, and they were there to respond when a man came to reportedly try to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Lee also pressed the attorney general on the disparity behind the Department of Justice’s decision to charge “34 individuals for blocking access to or vandalizing abortion clinics,” while only two arrests were made after there were 130 attacks on Catholic churches and 81 attacks on pregnancy resource centers after the Dobbs decision.
“Those who are attacking the pregnancy resource centers, which is a horrid thing to do, are doing this at night in the dark. These people who are doing it are clever and are doing it in secret,” Garland said.
Ted Cruz on abortion-rights protesters harassing justices
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Garland had a heated exchange over the protection of six Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices after the Dobbs decision was leaked.
“In my judgment, the DOJ has been politicized to the greatest extent I’ve ever seen in this country and it’s done a discredit to the DOJ, the FBI, and the administration of law in this country,” Cruz said.
He then posed similar questions to Lee’s over the DOJ’s different treatment of protesters at abortion clinics compared to protesters at the justices’ homes or attacks on pregnancy resource centers.
“In the wake of the Dobbs decision, when rioters descended on homes of six Supreme Court justices, night after night after night, you did nothing. The department did nothing when extremist groups, like ‘Ruth Sent Us’ and ‘Jane’s Revenge,’ openly organized campaigns of harassment at the homes of justices,” Cruz said.
These same groups released information about the private lives of the justices and their families, the Texas senator added.
“As soon as the Dobbs draft leaked, I ordered the marshals to do something that the marshals had never done in United States history before, which was to protect the justices and their families, 24-7,” Garland responded while noting that the 70 U.S. marshals weren’t instructed to ignore the law, according to Politico.
But Cruz said the DOJ’s failure to protect the justices and their families was an obvious product of political bias.
“You agree with Roe v. Wade. You disagree with the Dobbs decision, and the Department of Justice, under this president, was perfectly happy to refuse to enforce the law and allow threats of violence,” Cruz said.