Attorney General Merrick Garland's upcoming back surgery has prompted a temporary transfer of power.
Garland will soon temporarily delegate his duties due to an impending back surgery.
Attorney General Merrick Garland is set for a minimally invasive back surgery on February 3 in a move that marries prudence with transparency. The surgery aims to relieve stenosis through interlaminar decompression at the L4-L5 level. The procedure is expected to be brief, lasting around 90 minutes.
Under general anesthesia, Garland’s surgery will take place with expectations of his return home on the same day. According to the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will assume his responsibilities during his short recuperation. This temporary change in leadership is expected to last only until the week of February 5th, when Garland is slated to return to work.
At 71, Garland has been open with the White House and the public about his surgery, contrasting a recent incident involving Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Austin’s treatment for prostate cancer and the subsequent lack of timely disclosure to the President or the public has led to new federal guidelines for such situations.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's recent health ordeal, which included surgery for prostate cancer and a two-week intensive care stay, was initially kept under wraps. Austin's disclosure came days after his hospitalization, igniting a debate over transparency and continuity of government. This has resulted in ongoing reviews and the implementation of new federal guidelines.
These guidelines now mandate that the White House be promptly informed whenever a Cabinet member cannot perform their duties. The Justice Department has adhered to these new guidelines, promptly notifying the White House of Garland’s scheduled surgery. In this context, Garland's decision to temporarily delegate his duties has been framed as an example of adherence to these new federal standards.
DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa outlined the specifics of the upcoming procedure:
On Saturday, February 3, 2024, the Attorney General will undergo a minimally invasive back procedure called an interlaminar decompression at L4-L5 to address stenosis. The procedure requires general anesthesia and will last about 90 minutes. The Attorney General is likely to go home the same day. The delegation of his duties will go to the Deputy Attorney General shortly before the procedure, during the procedure, and for a brief period following the procedure to allow for recovery from general anesthesia.
The smooth transition of duties to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco is key to maintaining government continuity. Monaco will take over Garland's duties shortly before the surgery and continue until he is medically cleared to resume his post. The approach ensures that the high office of the Attorney General remains functional and responsive during the Attorney General’s brief absence.
White House spokeswoman Olivia Dalton discussed the procedure, highlighting the compliance with the protocol. She stated that the Justice Department informed the White House about their intention to delegate duties according to the new guidelines.
Garland’s health and the temporary delegation of his duties have been handled with a balance of personal privacy and public interest. This careful handling serves as a testament to the Justice Department's commitment to transparency and the continuity of government operations.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has set a date for his back surgery, which will be followed by a brief period where Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will assume his duties.
The surgery is part of a transparent process following recent changes in federal guidelines necessitated by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's less transparent handling of his health issues. Garland’s openness and prompt notification to the White House reflect a commitment to transparency and the proper functioning of government.
The Justice Department has assured the public that the transfer of duties will be smooth and that Garland is expected to make a swift return to his role.