by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It was to be expected, but is disappointing nevertheless, that attorney general nominee Merrick Garland has echoed the Biden administration line that its prioritization of equity is not a radical departure from the constitutional principle of equality under the law. In fact, the concepts are polar opposites.
NR’s Zachary Evans reports that Judge Garland was pressed on “equity versus equality” during his confirmation hearing Monday, primarily by Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.). Cotton points out that the Biden administration’s conception of equity is to treat people differently based on their race. When they are not disingenuously denying this, progressives rationalize it as a necessary evil, essential to rectifying historic discrimination. That greater evil, we’re to understand, has produced America’s “systemic racism,” which favors the white oppressor class — a class that, as the Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn points out, increasingly includes Asian Americans as “white-adjacent”. . . though progressives would prefer you didn’t notice that.
This counter-constitutional thinking is the leitmotif of President Biden’s executive order on equity, issued at the start of his presidency. It makes equity the antithesis of equality — the latter being the constitutional principle that government must treat everyone equally under the law, regardless of race.
At the hearing, Garland told Cotton, “I think discrimination is morally wrong. Absolutely.” Taking Garland at his word, it is hard to understand how the Justice Department, under his stewardship, could in good conscience apply Biden’s equity guidance. Equity, as explicated by the order’s slippery prose, is targeted discrimination.
For now, Garland is handling the tension between his rejection of discrimination as a moral wrong and the Biden equity doctrine by pretending that the latter is something other than what it is — indeed, that it is the opposite of what it is.