It's not the first time Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has made such a claim.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) grilled President Joe Biden's attorney general nominee Merrick Garland during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday afternoon, asking whether he felt Biden's executive orders from January that promoted racial justice for underserved communities were racist.
"I want to turn to racial equality," Cotton said to Garland. "Do you agree, the core concept, Judge, of American law is that the government can't discriminate against a citizen on the basis of their race?"
"Absolutely, equal justice under the law, written right there on the steps of the pediment above the Supreme Court," Garland responded.
Cotton then asked him if he felt racial discrimination was "morally wrong," to which Garland answered in the affirmative.
"You're aware that President Biden has signed an executive order stating that his administration will firmly and fully advance racial equity, not racial equality but racial equity?"
Garland replied that he interpreted Biden's executive order to define "equity" as "the fair and impartial treatment of every person without regard to their status."
Cotton doubled down on his line of questioning. "So to you, racial equity and racial equality are the same thing?"
Garland answered that he could only interpret the executive order in light of the definition of racial equity Biden himself used in the document.
Posting the video exchange on Twitter after the hearing, Cotton tweeted accompanying it, "Judge Garland agrees that it's wrong and immoral to discriminate based on race. I hope he'll oppose any of President Biden's so-called equity initiatives that treat Americans differently based on the color of their skin."
Biden's January executive actions taken in his pursuit of racial equity included orders offering redress for discriminatory housing practices, committing to tribal sovereignty for Native American tribes, combating xenophobia against Asian American citizens, and ending the use of private prisons, which disproportionately imprison people of color.
It's not the first time Cotton has claimed that anti-racism policies are really racist. In a hearing he attended for Marcia Fudge, Biden's nominee for secretary of housing and urban development, the senator from Arkansas asked Fudge, "Just to be clear then, it sounds like racial equity means treating people differently based on their race. Is that correct?"
"Not based on race, but it could be based on economics, it could be based on the history of discrimination that has existed for a long time," she replied.
Last summer, Cotton drew ire when he described the institution of American slavery as "a necessary evil upon which the union was built" — as civil rights protests swept the nation.
From the Feb. 22 hearing for Judge Merrick Garland before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
TOM COTTON: Thank you. I want to turn to racial equity. Do you agree the core concept, Judge, of American law is that the government can't discriminate against a citizen on the basis of their race?
MERRICK GARLAND: Absolutely, equal justice under the law, written right there on the steps of the pediment above the Supreme Court.
COTTON: And not only is it unlawful, it's morally wrong as well?
GARLAND: Yes, I think discrimination is morally wrong, absolutely.
COTTON: You're aware that President Biden has signed an executive order stating that his administration will firmly and fully advance racial equity, not racial equality but racial equity?
GARLAND: Yes, and I, I read the opening of that executive order which defines equity as the fair and impartial treatment of every person without regard to their status, including the individuals who are, in, who have, in underserved communities where they were not accorded them before. But I don't see any distinction between, in that regard. That's the definition that was included in that executive order that you're talking about.
COTTON: So to you, racial equity and racial equality are the same thing?
GARLAND: This is a word that is defined in the executive order as I just said it, so I don't know what else, I can't give you any more than the way in which the executive order defined the term that it was using.
COTTON: Thank you, Judge.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.