Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, suggested Monday that if confirmed he would direct the Justice Department to advance the administration’s position on gun control.
“The president is a strong supporter of gun control and has been an advocate all his professional life on this question,” Judge Garland said during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.
“The role of the Justice Department is to advance the policy program of the administration as long as it is consistent with the law,” he continued. “Where there is room under the law for the president’s policies to be pursued, I think the president is entitled to pursue them.”
Judge Garland, who is expected to be confirmed, responded to a question from Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican.
Mr. Biden last week pushed Congress to impose background checks on all gun sales, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminate immunity for gun manufacturers in certain cases.
In 2007, Judge Garland voted in favor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia hearing a lower court ruling in favor of gun rights. The court ultimately did not support the hearing.
Judge Garland told lawmakers Monday that his decision was not about the merits of the case but the need for further scrutiny.
“I thought this was an extremely important issue, important enough since it was the very first time that we should hear it en banc,” he said. “I was not the only judge, and other judges, including a judge appointed by a president of a different party, also voted and for the same reason.”