Judge Merrick Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday that riots in Portland that targeted a U.S. courthouse may not qualify as "domestic terrorism" because the attack happened at night when the court was not "in operation."
Garland made the statement in response to questioning by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) during his confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general.
Sen. Hawley: Let me ask you about assaults on federal property in places other than Washington, DC — Portland, for instance, Seattle. Do you regard assaults on federal courthouses or other federal property as acts of domestic extremism, domestic terrorism?
Judge Garland: Well, Senator, my own definition, which is about the same as the statutory definition, is the use of violence or threats of violence in attempt to disrupt the democratic processes. So an attack on a courthouse, while in operation, trying to prevent judges from actually deciding cases, that plainly is domestic extremism, domestic terrorism. An attack simply on a government property at night, or any other kind of circumstances, is a clear crime and a serious one, and should be punished. I don't know enough about the facts of the example you're talking about. But that's where I draw the line. One is — both are criminal, but one is a core attack on our democratic institutions.
The Portland riots led to the courthouse being boarded up, the destruction of the courthouse's security equipment, and the breaking of windows in the offices of federal prosecutors.
🔦 According to the domestic terrorism statute, "domestic terrorism" is defined as:
(5) the term "domestic terrorism" means activities that— (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; (B) appear to be intended— (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States