(Senate - April 19, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 60 (Tuesday, April 19, 2016)]
[Pages S2133-S2135]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, today we are going to remember the victims 
and families whose lives were forever changed by the bombing in 
Oklahoma City 21 years ago. This homegrown terrorist attack--this 
bombing shook our Nation to its core. In fact, it remains the worst act 
of homegrown terrorism our Nation has endured.
  The destruction and the loss of life were overwhelming. This 
photograph I have never forgotten. The firefighter is carrying the limp 
and bloodied body of a toddler from the wreckage. Those of us who are 
parents and grandparents know the joy we have had in caring for 
children this age. You can only imagine the sadness of that 
firefighter. It symbolized the horror of the attack: 168 innocent lives 
perished that day; 19 of them were children.
  The impact, of course, and the loss in the Oklahoma City community 
was enormous. Nearly everyone knew someone who had lost a friend or 
family member. The city's emergency services and their victims support 
resources were quickly overwhelmed. As the days went by and the needs 
mounted, it became clear that the existing State and Federal resources 
were simply insufficient to respond to such a massive attack.
  So to respond to the victims' needs, I proposed, and Congress passed, 
the Victims of Terrorism Act of 1995. Among important matters, the 
legislation I wrote created an emergency reserve as part of the Crime 
Victims Fund to serve as an emergency resource in the wake of an act of 
terrorism or mass violence. Even though every one of us, Republicans 
and Democrats alike,

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prayed there would never be such another act, we had, in my 
legislation, an emergency reserve, because without such a fund, State 
victim compensation and assistance programs are quickly overwhelmed. 
This new fund was critical to ensuring that additional resources got to 
the field quickly.
  Over the last two decades, this fund has been instrumental in 
allowing the Federal government to immediately respond to the victims 
of other unspeakable acts of mass violence, including the 9/11 
terrorist attack and more recently, the domestic terror attack in the 
Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South 
  Last month I met with the former Federal prosecutor who managed the 
investigation and the prosecutions of the Oklahoma City bombers. We 
talked about the prosecution. That former prosecutor was Chief Judge 
Merrick Garland. He was nominated to the Supreme Court last month. But 
before he was a judge and a nominee to serve on the highest Court in 
the land, he was a prosecutor and a senior official at the Justice 
Department. Those of us who have had the privilege of being 
prosecutors, none of us could ever think of facing what he did.
  Immediately after hearing the news of the devastation in Oklahoma 
City, Merrick Garland turned to the Deputy Attorney General. He said, 
very simply: ``You need to send me there.'' The next day, Merrick 
Garland became the highest ranking Department of Justice official on 
the ground in Oklahoma City after the bombing. He helped to oversee 
every aspect of the criminal investigation and response. Years later, 
he still considers his work in Oklahoma City the most important in his 
  Chief Judge Garland's commitment to fairness during that difficult 
period and his work with the citizens of Oklahoma City were formative 
for him. I know from talking with him that it left a lasting impression 
on him, but it left especially a lasting impression on the people he 
  Last year, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum honored 
Merrick Garland with a Reflections of Hope Award for his work on behalf 
of victims. After his nomination to the Supreme Court last month, the 
Oklahoma museum's Executive Director said: ``We are so proud that Judge 
Garland, who kept the family members and survivors front and center 
during his work in Oklahoma City, has been nominated.''
  We have also heard from a team of former prosecutors, law enforcement 
agents, and victims' advocates who worked directly with Chief Judge 
Garland in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. They have 
written to the leadership of the Senate and the Judiciary Committee to 
highlight Chief Judge Garland's work on this terrorism case. They 
strongly support his nomination to the Supreme Court. The law 
enforcement team writes of Chief Judge Garland:

       Twenty years ago, the nation could not find a better lawyer 
     to manage the investigation and prosecution of what was then 
     the worse crime ever committed on American soil. Today, our 
     nation could not find a better judge, nor a more honorable 
     man, to join its highest court.

  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record 
the letter highlighting Chief Judge Garland's work on the Oklahoma City 
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                   April 19, 2016.
     Hon. Mitch McConnell,
     Majority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Harry Reid,
     Minority Leader, U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Charles E. Grassley,
     Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
     Hon. Patrick J. Leahy,
     Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, 
     Chairman Grassley, and Ranking Member Leahy: As former 
     prosecutors, law enforcement agents and victim advocates who 
     worked as a team with Merrick Garland, as well as state and 
     local authorities, to secure justice for the thousands of 
     victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, we write to offer our 
     enthusiastic support for Chief Judge Garland to serve on the 
     Supreme Court of the United States.
       We are a diverse group: we live in different parts of the 
     country and work in a variety of fields, we have no common 
     political affiliation, and indeed some of us are occasionally 
     adversaries in court. But despite those differences we are 
     united today, as we were united two decades ago, in our 
     respect and admiration for the integrity, brilliance, 
     leadership, and judgment of Merrick Garland. Twenty years 
     ago, the nation could not find a better lawyer to manage the 
     investigation and prosecution of what was then the worst 
     crime ever committed on American soil. Today, our nation 
     could not find a better judge, nor a more honorable man, to 
     join its highest court.
       On April 19, 1995, while first responders were still 
     searching for the injured and the dead in the ruins of the 
     Alfred J. Murrah Federal Building, Merrick Garland worked 
     with the folks on the ground to provide the best federal 
     resources, personnel and counsel to assist with the 
     investigation and prosecutions. He knew that the best thing 
     he could do was to leave Washington and travel to Oklahoma 
     City to ensure that the investigators, the prosecutors, the 
     victims and the survivors had the full support of the Justice 
     Department. He arrived to find the largest and most complex 
     crime scene anyone in American law enforcement had ever 
     encountered. He helped to ensure that the many different 
     local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies worked 
     together as a team, despite their sometimes differing ideas 
     about how best to build a case. At the same time, he made 
     sure the victims, the survivors and their families had the 
     critical resources they needed to deal with the unspeakable 
     losses they had suffered.
       Once the two men responsible for the bombing had been 
     identified and arrested, Judge Garland was careful to ensure 
     that each was treated fairly and with dignity to ensure that 
     no one could reasonably accuse the government of a rush to 
     judgment. He meticulously oversaw every step of the 
     prosecution's initial proceedings, building an overwhelming 
     case and ensuring that no legal error would allow the bombers 
     to escape responsibility for their atrocity. And with the 
     victims' families and the nation desperate for information 
     and justice, Judge Garland ensured that they would have both.
       After the case was on a sound footing, Judge Garland 
     returned to his critical responsibilities at the Justice 
     Department, but maintained close contact with the rest of us 
     who continued to work on the case. With his towering 
     intellect, exceptionally sound judgment, and extraordinary 
     decency, he provided the leadership and wise counsel that 
     helped us face both novel legal issues in the courtroom and 
     unprecedented challenges in supporting a community of victims 
     that numbered in the thousands.
       On a personal level, we all benefitted from having Judge 
     Garland in our corner. For some of us, the bombing had ripped 
     through our home town and killed and wounded neighbors and 
     colleagues; for the rest of us who came to the task force 
     from across the country, the case required many months away 
     from friends and family. For all of us, working to secure 
     justice for the victims and to reassure the nation that our 
     judicial system could respond fairly but forcefully to such 
     an act of domestic terrorism, the pressure to get it right 
     was unyielding--and Judge Garland's support was critical. He 
     was not just a supervisor; he was a mentor, a counselor, and 
     a friend.
       From the day of the Oklahoma City bombing until his 
     judicial appointment at the start of the first of the trials, 
     Merrick Garland provided our team with leadership, 
     confidence, determination, and hope. If confirmed, he will 
     bring to the Supreme Court the same humanity, talent, and 
     judgment that we have seen in him for two decades. We 
     unconditionally support his nomination and urge you to 
     support his confirmation as an Associate Justice of the 
     Supreme Court.
           Very truly yours,
         Donna Bucella; Vicki Zemp Behenna; Sean Connelly; David 
           Chipman; Aitan Goelman; Jamie Gorelick; Joseph 
           Hartzler; Carolyn Hightower; Arlene Johnson; Wan Kim; 
           Larry Mackey; Scott Mendeloff; James Orenstein; Patrick 
           Ryan; Beth Wilkinson.

  Mr. LEAHY. The American people need to know that it is this dedicated 
public servant who is now being denied a public hearing by Senate 
Republicans. No nominee to the Supreme Court has ever been treated the 
way Senate Republicans are treating Chief Judge Garland. Since public 
confirmation hearings began in 1916, the Senate has never denied a 
Supreme Court nominee a hearing and a vote. I say to my friends the 
Republicans, you have no good reason for your obstruction of Merrick 
  Americans by a 2-to-1 margin want Chief Judge Garland to have a 
public hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Based on more than four 
decades of that precedent, that hearing should take place in the 
Judiciary Committee next week. Instead, Senate Republicans continue to 
ignore the American people.
  Neil Siegel, a law professor at Duke University, said: ``It does not 
matter constitutionally, nor as a matter of tradition, whether a 
nomination is made in an election year. Numerous

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nominations have succeeded during election years. Without exaggeration, 
Senate Republicans have made up a distinction without a relevant 
constitutional difference.'' Even school children know that Presidents 
are elected to 4-year terms and they have to carry out their 
constitutional duties each and every year right up until noon of 
January 20 of their last year. It is no different for Senators. We 
can't just sit this year out because an election will be held in 
November. As Professor Siegel concludes, Senate Republicans ``are 
harming the court without a justification that passes the laugh test.''
  Today, as we remember the victims, their families, and the entire 
Oklahoma City community, let's also remember the good the Senate has 
done when we have put aside destructive partisanship and come together 
to act for the good of the country. This body has done that time and 
again, under both Democratic and Republican leadership, as it has 
carried out its constitutional duty to consider nominees to the Supreme 
Court. I hope the Senate will carry out that duty for a public servant 
named Merrick Garland who has served this country so well.