Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Merrick Garland is a Liberal Supreme Court Nominee We Can Do Without.

Merrick Brian Garland (born November 13, 1952) is an American federal judge and currently the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served on that court since March 20, 1997. Below are a couple snips from some of todays commentaries. Of all the stuff I looked through he does not appear to be much of a Constitutional scholar and is likely agenda driven. But then, why else would Obama nominate him?

Think Progress: Garland’s relatively advanced age may help explain why Orrin Hatch floated the DC Circuit chief judge as his ideal Obama nominee. Another factor that almost certainly played a role is Garland’s reputation for moderation. In 2003, for example, Garland joined an opinion holding that the federal judiciary lacks the authority “to assert habeas corpus jurisdiction at the behest of an alien held at a military base leased from another nation, a military base outside the sovereignty of the United States” — an opinion that effectively prohibited Guantanamo Bay detainees from seeking relief in civilian courts. A little over a year later, the Supreme Court reversed this decision in Rasul v. Bush. Although, in fairness, it should be noted that legal experts disagree about whether the decision Garland joined was mandated by existing precedents.
The former prosecutor also has a relatively conservative record on criminal justice. A 2010 examination of his decisions by SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein determined that “Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants’ appeals of their convictions.” Goldstein “identified only eight such published rulings,” in addition to seven where “he voted to reverse the defendant’s sentence in whole or in part, or to permit the defendant to raise a argument relating to sentencing on remand,” during the 13 years Garland had then spent on the DC Circuit.
To be clear, Garland’s record does not suggest that he would join the Court’s right flank if confirmed to the Supreme Court. He would likely vote much more often than not with the Supreme Court’s liberals, while occasionally casting a heterodox vote. Nevertheless, as Goldstein wrote in 2010 when Garland was under consideration to replace the retiring liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, “to the extent that the President’s goal is to select a nominee who will articulate a broad progressive vision for the law, Judge Garland would be a very unlikely candidate to take up that role.”

 USA Today: The last time Garland went before the Senate, it also was controlled by Republicans, and for a while he endured the same fate he faces now. President Bill Clinton named him to the appeals court in 1995, but his nomination languished through the 1996 election year. Once Clinton won a second term, Garland won confirmation by a 76-23 vote in 1997, with 32 Republicans supporting him.