President Biden’s nominee to be the next attorney general, Merrick Garland, got emotional during a hearing while explaining how his family fled persecution over their Jewish identity.
Garland, 68, recounted his family’s tragic journey to the United States on Monday while in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The emotional response was elicited after Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker asked him about his motivations and his “family history in confronting hate and discrimination.”
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“So I come from a family — or my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back, and this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back,” Garland said, having to stop at moments to collect himself. “And so, I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you’re saying I could become.”
Garland’s nomination as Biden’s attorney general comes five years after then-President Barack Obama nominated him to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican majority in the Senate refused to hold a hearing, leaving the seat open for former President Donald Trump to nominate Justice Neil Gorsuch.
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Garland’s Jewish grandparents fled from Europe to escape anti-Semitism, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He was raised in Chicago, and his late mother was the director of volunteer service at the Council for Jewish Elderly.