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Tom Cotton to AG Garland: ‘Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court’

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., tore into Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, chastising him for his memo to Justice Department employees about intervening in violence, threats and intimidation targeting school board officials.

Cotton noted that Garland has cited news reports – in addition to a letter from the National School Boards Association – as inspiring his memo. The Arkansas Republican then brought up one of the more high-profile instances of a parent being arrested for conduct at a school board meeting, where Scott Smith was charged with disorderly conduct after demanding answers regarding how his daughter was allegedly sexually assaulted in a girls’ bathroom at school by a boy who had reportedly been wearing women’s clothing.

GARLAND REFUSES TO BACK AWAY FROM DOJ MEMO AFTER SCHOOL BOARD APOLOGY

While Garland stopped short of apologizing to the Smith family, he expressed sympathy for their situation and said that “anyone whose child is raped … is certainly entitled and protected by the First Amendment to protest to their school board about that.”

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    Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., questions Attorney General Merrick Garland during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP) (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP)

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    Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP) (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP)

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    Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn in during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examining the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Pool via AP) (Tom Brenner/Pool via AP)

Cotton was not satisfied with this response.

“That letter and those reports were the basis for your directive. This is shameful. Judge, this is shameful. This testimony, your directive, your performance is shameful. Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace, judge.”

Garland was famously nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama in 2016 following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate, controlled by Republicans at the time, refused to hold a confirmation hearing, allowing Garland’s nomination to remain undecided until Obama’s successor, former President Donald Trump, withdrew the nomination and appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch instead.

In response to Cotton’s diatribe, Garland insisted that the news reports cited by the NSBA – including the Smith case – were not the news reports that influenced him in issuing his directive. 

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