By Dianne Feinstein
Originally appeared in USA Today
Sitting in the
Judge Garland is a brilliant jurist who has dedicated his life to serving the people of the United States. When I review his record, I’m even more convinced that he deserves full and fair consideration by the Senate.
For evidence of this, look no further than the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — 21 years ago this month, where Merrick Garland led the federal investigation and supervised the prosecution.
This case study is telling. His actions clearly demonstrate the traits most desired in a Supreme Court Justice — mastery of the law, fairness and sound judgment.
I vividly remember that day — the devastation and loss of life. One hundred sixty-eight people were killed when a multi-ton bomb was detonated inside a Ryder truck outside the
The bomb exploded at 9:02 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. The aftermath was gruesome. Many victims were dedicated civil servants who worked each day to better their communities and country. Many were sitting at their desks when the bomb went off.
The haunting images showed blood, smoke, crying babies and faces filled with horror. The whole downtown area in Oklahoma City was devastated by the blast.
But the aftermath also revealed the best of public service.
Garland's lead role in the methodical investigation and eventual prosecution of the perpetrators showed the value of devoting one’s skill and energy to serving our nation and its people.
Former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick recalled that Garland asked to be sent to Oklahoma City. Justice Department officials trusted that he had the sober judgment needed to handle the government’s response to what was then the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. That judgment is reflected throughout the government’s case.
Garland was on the ground two days after the bombing coordinating the investigation, which involved thousands of agents nationwide and multiple federal prosecutors’ offices. He supervised the trial team until his confirmation to the federal bench andensured that the victims of this dastardly attack were kept informed of the proceedings.
The 130-page decision of the
The decision says the “government in this case exercised considerable restraint in avoiding overly emotional testimony.” It also notes the prosecution was careful to avoid calling witnesses whose testimony, in the court’s words, might “cross the line,” or multiple witnesses who would make the same point.
The prosecution of a high-profile case infused with so much emotion must be handled carefully. Otherwise, any number of things could go wrong — resulting in the judge ordering a new trial or an appeals court overturning the conviction.
That did not happen in this case. The appeals court upheld the convictions of both Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. McVeigh’s principal defense attorney, Stephen Jones, has praised Garland, for his professional capabilities as well as his character.
Jones is a self-described "partisan Republican." He has been a Republican sinceage 12 and was the Republican nominee for Senate in Oklahoma in 1990.
Not only does Jones support Garland's nomination, he personally wrote to the president in February urging that he choose Garland. He has stated that Garland is not a partisan advocate and was fair. He also said Garland is temperate and has sober judgment. This is high praise from an adversary in a major case.
I believe this distinguished record should send a message to every senator. We were sent to Washington to serve our constituents for six years. That includes considering nominees to the Supreme Court.
Judge Garland’s long record of public service calls for fair consideration, open hearings and a vote. Refusal to do this would, in my judgment, only further diminish the Senate in the eyes of the American people.