February 28, 2021

‘A PERSON OF INTEGRITY’: Garland defends DOJ nominee who called Blacks superior

Feb 22, 2021 | ,

‘I do not believe that she is discriminatory in any sense,’ Garland said

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland defended Kristen Clarke, the attorney tapped to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, during a heated exchange with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, at his confirmation hearing on Monday.

Clarke, Biden’s nominee to serve as assistant attorney general for civil rights, drew scrutiny in recent weeks over a resurfaced 1994 letter she co-authored to the Harvard Crimson. Clarke presented the letter as a denouncement of findings in the controversial book called “The Bell Curve,” which suggested that intelligence was linked to genetics and environmental factors.

In the letter, Clarke wrote, among other things that “Black infants sit, stand, crawl and walk sooner than whites” and “Melanin endows Blacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities.” While Clarke has maintained that the intent of her letter was misinterpreted, critics, including Lee, have questioned her fitness to hold office in the DOJ.


Lee referenced the situation in a question to Garland, kicking off a tense exchange.

“Would an individual’s past statements as an adult declaring that one racial group is superior to another, would statements like that be relevant to an evaluation of whether such a person should be put in charge of running the Department of Justice’s civil rights division?” Lee asked the attorney general nominee.

“I’ve read, in the last few days, these allegations about Kristen Clarke, who I’ve also gotten to know, who I also trust, who I believe is a person of integrity, whose views about the civil rights division I have discussed with her and they are in line with my own,” Garland said in response. “I have every reason to want her. She is an experienced former line prosecutor of hate crimes and we need somebody like that,” Garland said before being interrupted by Lee.

“I’m not asking about her as a person, I’m asking about the statement,” Lee said.

“All I can tell you is that I’ve had many conversations with her about her views about the civil rights division, about what type of matters she would investigate,” Garland said.

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