Years after the Republican-led Senate refused to consider his nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to serve as Attorney General in the administration of President Joe Biden.
On Monday, Garland appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing.
Garland told the lawmakers in his opening statement:
"If I am confirmed as Attorney General, it will be the culmination of a career I have dedicated to ensuring that the laws of our country are fairly and faithfully enforced, and that the rights of all Americans are protected."
The Biden administration, on which Garland hopes to serve if confirmed, issued executive orders on his first day in office aimed at advancing racial equity in the United States.
The term "equity" carries different implications than "equality," as Vice President Kamala Harris explained:
"Equality suggests, 'Oh, everyone should get the same amount.' The problem with that, not everybody's starting out from the same place."
"Equity" is aimed at offsetting centuries of inequality with specific, targeted actions benefitting those marginalized by said inequality.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has taken issue with this, falsely claiming that equitable policies provide special treatment on the basis of race.
This became relevant in the bizarre moment that Cotton asked Garland if he believed discrimination is wrong.
Merrick Garland: Yes, I think discrimination is morally wrong. Absolutely. Sen. Tom Cotton: Are you aware Presiden… https://t.co/Pl0RHzMT8U— USA TODAY Politics (@USA TODAY Politics) 1614016864.0
After Garland answered that, of course, discrimination is morally wrong, Cotton asked:
"Are you aware that has signed an executive order stating his administration will affirmatively advance racial equity? Not racial equality but racial equity?"
Cotton likely hoped to equate the pursuit of racial equity with discrimination, but Garland was prepared, responding:
"I read the opening of that executive order which defines equity as the fair and impartial treatment of every person without regard to their status, including individuals who are in underserved communities where they were not accorded that before. ... That's the definition that was included in the executive order that you're talking about."
Cotton's attention to semantics would be more credible if he hadn't worked against racial equality as well as racial equity. As recently as last year, Cotton called slavery a "necessary evil" and fought against D.C. statehood by fearfully invoking its Black leaders and saying its work force contributed less than workers in Wyoming, which is 90 percent white.
People saw right through Cotton.
Tom Cotton really doesn't like the idea of Black people being equal. https://t.co/9cRrW3l1C2— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1614023797.0
Tom Cotton doesn’t like black people. Water is wet. Moving on. https://t.co/HZ7uaAd9PU— Stephanie Clay 🦋🏳️🌈🐝🛳 (@Stephanie Clay 🦋🏳️🌈🐝🛳) 1614024780.0
I cannot comprehend why anybody would be upset at "racial equity" but not "racial equality" https://t.co/WNClz2zm6W— Pé (@Pé) 1614026767.0
Either Tom Cotton doesn't know the definition of equity, or he does and wants no part of it. https://t.co/NyNh5mwj2j— Brandon Pope TV (@Brandon Pope TV) 1614027723.0
Tom Cotton’s 2024 presidential campaign platform is absolutely going to include an “Ending the Scourge of Reverse R… https://t.co/57WyvKJ6nh— Jay Willis (@Jay Willis) 1614026348.0
Shorter Tom Cotton: Please reassure all my white constituents they are still the greatest, most special people. https://t.co/TRiO36YgPe— Gary Legum (@Gary Legum) 1614023014.0
What was intended to be a "gotcha" question for Garland became a self-own for Cotton.
I'm going to call this a self own. https://t.co/MswG357EOP— Gary Andover (@Gary Andover) 1614026894.0
Tom Cotton, an elitist who went to Ivy League and prestigious schools, prolly should get a refund. They failed him. https://t.co/sqj1SLsvjH— Wajahat Ali (@Wajahat Ali) 1614020099.0
There are a few notable instances in my government career in which I remember a legislator rolling out a perceived… https://t.co/aV8wIVoUQZ— Steven David (@Steven David) 1614024296.0
Garland is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.