What they are saying about Biden’s Department of Justice nominees


U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday introduced key nominees for the United States Department of Justice, including Judge Merrick Garland, nominee for Attorney General; Lisa Monaco, nominee for Deputy Attorney General; Vanita Gupta, nominee for Associate Attorney General; and Kristen Clarke, nominee for Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.


Below id what lawmakers, legal experts, law enforcement and national security experts, and civil rights advocates are saying about their nominations

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “With Garland, Monaco, Gupta, and Clarke at the helm, the department can work to ensure police accountability, fairness in sentencing, enforcement of hate crimes laws, and educational equity, as well as protect the rights of Black and brown communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals, and religious minorities. We urge the new Senate to move swiftly on confirming these nominees, and we look forward to working with the new leadership at the department.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

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Democratic Attorneys General Association: “We welcome the new leadership at the Department of Justice—one rooted in a shared commitment to the rule of law, equality, and justice for all…The new leadership at the DOJ will be consequential to restoring faith in government and making progress on voting rights, criminal justice reform, and fighting discrimination in all its forms.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Vanita Gupta Tuesday, March 21, 2017 in Washington. (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)
Vanita Gupta Tuesday, March 21, 2017 in Washington. (Sharon Farmer/sfphotoworks)

Marc Morial, CEO of National Urban League: “With these nominations, President-elect Biden has begun the process of restoring faith in the rule of law after four years of Donald Trump weaponizing the Department of Justice for his own personal and political gain. He has also demonstrated his strong commitment to racial justice and civil rights…The nominees face an enormous challenge to rebuild and restore what the Trump administration has dismantled and corrupted. But I have every confidence they are up to the task. I’m proud to offer the National Urban League’s congratulations and full support.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Danielle Gray, Member, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights: “I don’t know how to thread tweets but I’d like to say something on this team.  A group of incredible women and one of the greatest men I know will lead DOJ.  I’ve admired Vanita’s work and passion for justice — No one better to get the dept back to equal justice for all.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Neal Katyal, Former Acting U.S. Solicitor General: “This is an incredible lineup at DOJ, some of the most talented lawyers our nation has known in our lifetimes. Merrick Garland is the v definition of competent, Lisa Monaco a brilliant manager+thinker&Vanita Gupta a treasure for civil rights. Literal opposite of the current jokers” [Tweet, 1/6/21]


A. B. Cruz III, President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association: “NAPABA heartily congratulates these four stellar individuals on their nominations to lead the Department of Justice. These nominees have a long history of public service, including at the Department of Justice.Notably, if confirmed, Vanita Gupta would become the highest ranking Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) to ever serve at DOJ and the first woman of color to serve as Associate Attorney General.” [Statement, 1/7/21]


Ben Jealous, President, People for the American Way: “There is an enormous amount of work to do to restore the Department of Justice to its role as a defender of the people’s rights and the Constitution, following years of its corruption at the hands of Donald Trump. Judge Garland will bring honesty, sincerity, a steady hand and a deep respect for the integrity of the Justice Department to the role. In addition, President-elect Biden has assembled an outstanding and diverse group of women to round out DOJ leadership and ensure the Department focuses critical attention on its role in advancing civil rights and racial justice.  With his nominations of Lisa Monaco, Vanita Gupta, and Kristen Clarke, President-elect Biden has assembled a strong team that will provide the right leadership to guide the Justice Department forward and rebuild public trust at a time when it is sorely needed.” [Statement, 1/7/21

JUDGE MERRICK GARLAND, NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL Dick Durbin, Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee: “I applaud President-elect Biden’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to be the next Attorney General. Judge Garland has dedicated his career to public service & to upholding the rule of law. He is clearly well-qualified to serve as our nation’s top law enforcement official. I intend to ensure that Judge Garland receives what he was so unfairly denied by Senate Republicans in 2016: a timely hearing and a vote. I look forward to working with him on ensuring equal justice for all, protecting the fundamental right to vote, and combating systemic racism.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Sheldon Whitehouse, Senior Member, Senate Judiciary Committee; Former U.S. Attorney: “This nomination is a turning point. For those of us who served in the Department before Trump, we remember a citadel of law that repelled cronyism and corruption and that served justice for Americans above all else.  There is nobody more committed to those values than Merrick Garland. Now, Judge Garland faces the difficult task of restoring the Department’s independence and position of respect in our justice system.  I have every confidence that he will.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Senator Lindsey Graham: “If media reports are accurate, I believe Judge Garland would be a sound choice to be the next Attorney General. He is a man of great character, integrity, and tremendous competency in the law. He will be asked many questions regarding existing investigations that, in my view, need to continue. I look forward to the confirmation process and will closely follow his answers.”  [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senate Judiciary Committee: “[Merrick Garland] will bring credibility back to the Justice Department and improve morale, get people to see this as a lawyer’s job, which it is. Your job is your fidelity to the Constitution and to the law, not being the personal lawyer of the president. I think a judge gets that.” [CNN, 1/6/2021]

Senator Richard Durbin: “I applaud President-elect Biden’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to be the next Attorney General. Judge Garland has dedicated his career to public service & to upholding the rule of law. He is clearly well-qualified to serve as our nation’s top law enforcement official. I intend to ensure that Judge Garland receives what he was so unfairly denied by Senate Republicans in 2016: a timely hearing and a vote. I look forward to working with him on ensuring equal justice for all, protecting the fundamental right to vote, and combating systemic racism.” [Tweet Thread, 1/7/21]

Senator Michael Bennet: “President-elect Biden couldn’t have made a better choice for U.S. Attorney General. Merrick Garland will protect the rule of law and uphold the Constitution. He’ll restore integrity to the @TheJusticeDept and re-establish its independence. Congrats to my friend and former boss.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Representative Jerry Nadler, Chair, House Judiciary Committee: “The task of rebuilding our government and restoring faith in our justice system begins at the Department of Justice. Judge Garland is an inspired choice to lead that effort.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “For the past four years, the top political leaders at the Justice Department have abdicated their duty to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States. Attorneys General Sessions and Barr have not only undermined morale, but they have also fallen in lock step with President Trump’s attempts to use the department to weaken civil rights laws and to further his personal agenda. Merrick Garland will lead the department in recommitting itself to the people and restore fidelity to the democratic values embedded in the Constitution and the laws of the United States. He will also assert the independence of the agency, respect non-partisan career lawyers, and bring back employee confidence. We look forward to working with Judge Garland and his team to ensure civil rights enforcement is a top priority for the Justice Department.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Sally Yates, Former Acting Attorney General: “Congratulations to Judge Garland and the outstanding team nominated to lead DOJ. A highly respected jurist and dedicated public servant, Judge Garland will ensure that DOJ earns the trust of the people it serves. Under his leadership, the Justice Department will live up to its name.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Doug Jones, Former United States Senator and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama: “Judge Merrick Garland will bring the integrity, professionalism & dedication to DOJ that is badly needed. The events of yesterday only underscore the challenges that he & his talented team will face on day 1 & they will need everyone’s support. He & the team certainly have mine.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Ronald Goldstock, Former Chair and Current Finance officer, American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Standards Committee: ‘”He may be the single best person for the job,” added Ronald Goldstock, a past chair and current finance officer at the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Standards Committee who worked with Garland in the 1990s at the DOJ.’ [Law360, 1/6/21]

Deval Patrick, Former MA Governor: “Merrick Garland is a mensch. Through his diligence as domestic terrorism prosecutor, his thoughtfulness as a DOJ colleague, and his care as a jurist, I know Judge Garland understands that justice must be pursued without fear or favor, and that the rule of law must be paramount.I am delighted President-elect Biden will nominate him to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States.” [Tweet Thread, 1/7/21]

Sherrilyn Ifill, President, NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “We congratulate Judge Garland on his nomination for the role of U.S. Attorney General. His record as a jurist is one of decency, ethics, and adherence to the rule of law – necessary attributes for anyone seeking to serve as this country’s top law enforcement official.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign: “With Merrick Garland as Attorney General, our Justice Department will once again be led with integrity and with a full respect for our nation’s rule of law.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

American Federation of Teachers: “Excited to hear that @JoeBiden is planning to nominate Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Garland is a smart, accomplished leader focused on making real change for working families.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

The Brady Campaign: “JUST IN: We welcome reports that @JoeBiden will nominate Merrick Garland as Attorney General. We’re encouraged that @TheJusticeDept will have bold leadership to reform dangerous gun industry practices — including addressing the surge in untraceable “ghost guns.” #EndGunViolence” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Fair and Just Prosecution: “Today’s news that Merrick Garland will be tapped by the Biden-Harris Administration to be the next Attorney General of the United States is a welcome development after four years of failed leadership and an increasingly politicized Department of Justice that abandoned the agency’s North star and mission to seek justice and fairness for all Americans.” [Statement, 1/6/21]

Jewish Dems: “We’re confident that Judge Merrick Garland will restore honor and integrity to the Justice Department, and are thrilled with his nomination as the next Attorney General of the United States.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

League of Conservation Voters: “Judge Merrick Garland’s decades of fair and even-handed experience on the DC Circuit makes him the right pick to restore independence and integrity to @TheJusticeDept and prioritize the robust enforcement of our environmental, voting rights, and civil rights laws.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

National Council of Jewish Women: “The Attorney General is the people’s lawyer, and with Merrick Garland at the helm, we will no doubt see a return to a Justice Department that works for the people. With our partners Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke named to two top positions, President-elect Biden has chosen the very best of what this country has to offer.” [Statement, 1/6/21]

Ian Bassin, Founder, Protect Democracy; Former Associate White House Counsel: “A retired federal judge was always, in my mind, the model type of AG for the period post-Trump. Merrick Garland is one of the finest and most respected judges in the country.” [Tweet Thread, 1/6/21]

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO: “President-elect @JoeBiden’s @TheJusticeDept nominations show his commitment to a fair justice system. Merrick Garland’s career embodies a deep commitment to public service. He will lead a team who will restore the DOJ to its non-politicized role of fighting for justice.”  [Tweet, 1/7/20]

Grant Woods, Former Republican Attorney General of Arizona: “Judge Merrick Garland will be an outstanding Attorney General. President-elect Biden has picked a tremendous Cabinet.  In these tough times, we need the best.” [Tweet, 1/6/20]

Laurence Tribe, Legal Scholar: “Merrick Garland will be one of the greatest Attorneys General in American history, bar none. As my brilliant con law student, a principled prosecutor, and later a superb DC Circuit judge, he has displayed integrity, courage, fair-mindedness, and humanity.” [Tweet, 1/6/21

LISA MONACO, NOMINEE FOR DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL United States of Women: “Putting the justice back in the Justice Department! 3 powerhouse women will be nominated for Justice Department leadership roles: -Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general -@vanitaguptaCR  as associate attorney general -@KristenClarkeJD as head of civil rights”  [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Ian Bassin, Founder, Protect Democracy; Former Assoc. White House Counsel: “And last but not least, Lisa Monaco has been at the frontlines of protecting our democracy from threats foreign and domestic both as the top Homeland Security Adviser to Pres Obama and then after. As DAG she’ll oversee the National Security Division and the Criminal Division. /12 Across the board, this is an outstanding team and perfectly suited to this critical moment in our nation’s history. All Americans should be proud and comforted to have them serving us all and restoring the Department of Justice.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Tony West, Former Associate Attorney General: “When I first joined DOJ over 25 years ago, Merrick Garland took me under his wing. He is a dedicated, principled public servant. He will be this generation’s Ed Levi, restoring integrity and independence to DOJ.And Judge Garland will be backed by an incredible team of talented lawyers in Lisa Monaco, @vanitaguptaCR and @KristenClarkeJD, all of whom will help reestablish DOJ as the People’s – not the president’s – law firm.” [Tweet Thread, 1/7/21]

Danielle Gray, Member, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights: “Lisa Monaco has been a colleague, friend, and even role model when it comes to public service.  She is FIERCE and we are lucky to have her overseeing the day to day of DOJ.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Joyce Vance, Former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama: “Look at the full team Biden puts together for DOJ. Lisa Monaco has deep experience in criminal and national security & knows the building. @vanitaguptaCR did an excellent job running the Civil Rights Division & as the Associate can manage policing reform.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

DJ Patil,  Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist: “Thrilled to see this team announced. Having worked with Lisa and @vanitaguptaCR, they are excellent choices and exactly the leaders we need NOW” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Graham Brookie, Managing Editor, Atlantic Council; Former NSC: “Lisa Monaco is a mentor, a manager, and the exact right person to help rebuild the Department of Justice. She is also the most experienced cyber expert named so far and will continue to be an invaluable as Deputy Attorney General on national security challenges.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Orin Kerr, Law Professor, Berkeley: “Merrick Garland as AG, and Lisa Monaco as Deputy AG, are excellent picks.  Of course, every AG & DAG makes many choices that prove controversial. They won’t do everything right.  But they are excellent choices for these extremely difficult jobs.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Anne Milgram, Law Professor, NYU Law School and Former NJ Attorney General: “There is a lot of good news right now. I am smiling for many reasons – especially because the amazing Lisa Monaco, @vanitaguptaCR and @KristenClarkeJD will join Merrick Garland to lead DOJ. All 4 lawyers are phenomenal choices to restore the integrity of DOJ” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Eric Schultz, CEO, Schultz Group PR; Fmr. Obama Advisor: “Lisa Monaco is one of the top reasons no foreign terror group successfully attacked our homeland on President Obama’s watch. Tough and scrupulous, but equally thoughtful, kind, and circumspect.” [Tweet, 1/7/20]

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League: “And congratulations to our friend @LisaMonaco on nomination for Deputy Attorney General. You have worked tirelessly to keep our nation safe from terrorist threats & know you will work relentlessly to ensure that the most dangerous threats are prioritized.” [Tweet, 12/1/7/21]

VANITA GUPTA, NOMINEE FOR ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ACLU: “Vanita Gupta is an inspired choice for associate attorney general and signals that President-elect Biden truly wants to restore justice and equality to the workings of the Department of Justice. Under Attorney General Barr, the words ‘justice’ and ‘equality’ were mere fictions, existing only on walls, plaques, papers, and parchments at the headquarters building. Vanita cut her teeth as a line litigator at the ACLU, working to bring justice on behalf of her clients in Tulia, Texas. She was a once-in-a-generation leader — earning her first big promotion to deputy legal director, in which she oversaw all ACLU work on criminal justice reform. Leading the ACLU’s criminal justice docket, she was able to establish partnerships between the ACLU and the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and law enforcement officials. That ability to broker impactful relationships across partisan and ideological divides caught the eye of Attorney General Holder and the rest is history.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Bend the Arc: Jewish Action: “Vanita Gupta, who heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (@civilrightsorg), is a fantastic pick for Associate Attorney General. She is a fierce advocate for civil rights and a longtime partner of Bend the Arc. Her powerful leadership is exactly what we need.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Sherrilyn Ifill, President, NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “We are delighted and encouraged by Ms. Gupta’s nomination. Her confirmation will mark the first time a civil rights lawyer has been selected for one of the top three positions at the DOJ. Ms. Gupta is among the most highly-respected, visionary civil rights lawyers in the country, and her skill in consensus-building is exceptional. These attributes were epitomized in her bold, courageous leadership of the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, which jump-started the division’s deep engagement in investigating unconstitutional policing. Ms. Gupta honed her understanding of these issues during her years as an attorney at LDF, where she worked on an array of criminal justice issues, including defending Black residents in Tulia, Texas, who were wrongly convicted of drug crimes after being racially profiled by a racist law enforcement officer. Her work on racial justice issues at the American Civil Liberties Union distinguished her as one of the most influential civil rights attorneys in the country. In her current role as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Ms. Gupta has led a coalition of over 100 civil rights groups during the most challenging period our nation has experienced in decades. Her voice, vision, and clarity have been exceptional — and critical to the success of civil rights groups in pushing back against the tide of President Trump’s anti-civil rights agenda. We are immensely pleased that Ms. Gupta will be playing such a critical role in shaping the DOJ’s trajectory under the Biden administration.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO: “.@vanitaguptaCR has dedicated her career to building a more just and equitable world and holding our government institutions accountable. Her deep commitment to working people and the value of solidarity makes her the perfect choice.” [Tweet, 1/7/20]

Indian American Impact Fund: “IMPACT is thrilled to support the nomination of @vanitaguptaCR for Associate Attorney General of the United States. She will be a tremendous advocate for civil rights, criminal justice reform, & the rule of law. We thank President-elect @JoeBiden for this historic pick.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign: “.@vanitaguptaCR and @KristenClarkeJD are intrepid, indefatigable warriors for justice. It’s been a true privilege to partner with them to advance progress for our communities, and we know they will guide the Justice Department with greater equality as a top priority.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Sim J Singh, Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy, The Sikh Coalition: “President Elect Biden’s nomination of Merrick Garland as Attorney General will help ensure that our nation’s laws are faithfully executed. Really excited to see the nominations of @vanitaguptaCR and @KristenClarkeJD to ensure our civil rights and liberties are upheld.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

KRISTEN CLARKE, NOMINEE FOR ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISIONStacey Abrams: “With @KristenClarkeJD leading DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, America will have a champion who has proven her mettle. From fighting voter suppression to defending equal justice under the law, she will be a phenomenal advocate for progress.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Bend the Arc: “Kristen Clarke, who heads the @LawyersComm for Civil Rights, is a stellar choice for Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.She has a strong track record of pursuing justice — from fighting housing discrimination to leading lawsuits against white supremacists.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Sherrilyn Ifill, President & Co-Director Of NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “We are also excited by the selection of Kristen Clarke as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Ms. Clarke, who will be the fifth former LDF attorney to lead the Civil Rights Division, brings exceptional and broad civil rights experience to the DOJ. Her compelling and admirable record as a civil rights attorney at the Department of Justice, LDF, and the New York Attorney General’s Office, where she led the Civil Rights Bureau, affirms her exceedingly strong qualifications for this role. During her time at LDF, Ms. Clarke was intimately involved in a broad range of voting rights and election law cases, including powerfully defending Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Ms. Clarke has led one of the country’s most important civil rights organizations, including its national Election Protection voter protection coalition, which has helped to protect the vote and ensure access to the ballot box for millions of voters. Ms. Clarke will undoubtedly understand the priorities needed for the division at this critical moment, and we look forward to working closely with her and her team.” [Statement, 1/7/21]

Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund: “Sending warm congrats to sister-in-arms @KristenClarkeJD for her nom to become the Asst Atty General for the Civil Rights Division at #DOJ. We need a formidable fighter like Kristen to defend and enforce civil rights protections now more than ever. #LDFproud” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO: “.@KristenClarkeJD  is a champion of justice whose career is a testament to the plain fact that combatting discrimination in housing, voting and employment are paramount to building a strong democracy.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Ai-Jen Poo, Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance: “Amidst it all, part of what really gives me hope is the leadership of people like @vanitaguptaCR & @KristenClarkeJD who will soon be in our DOJ. Congratulations & thank you.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Michelle Ringuette, Assistant to the President, American Federation of Teachers: “Another reason to be furious with Trump’s fringe snowflake mob? They overshadowed the terrific announcement of @vanitaguptaCR & @KristenClarkeJD are joining the Biden-Harris Justice Department.” [Tweet, 1/6/21]

Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program: “Appointing @vanitaguptaCR and @KristenClarkeJD to senior DOJ positions is by far best of Biden’s appointments.” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Omar Noureldin, Attorney; Professor, USC Gould School of Law: “Yes! @KristenClarkeJD is a principled, fearless & kind leader. She’s led the fight to save our democracy for years bc civil rights and voting rights work = democracy work. Yesterday made clear we have a lot of work to do, but I rest a bit easier knowing Kristen will be leading it” [Tweet, 1/7/21]

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League: “We are equally pleased that our partner @KristenClarkeJD has been nominated to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, a role in which we know you will carry on the critical anti-hate and racial justice work you have masterfully spearheaded at @LawyersComm.“ [Tweet, 1/7/21]
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