President Obama announced on Wednesday his nominee for the Supreme Court, Illinois Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland. WhiteHouse.gov describes Judge Garland this way:
As one of the best appellate judges in the country, Chief Judge Merrick Garland is the most qualified person to immediately serve on the Supreme Court.
Here are some brief facts that give an overview of Chief Judge Garland’s record and credentials:
Oversaw some of the most important federal criminal cases in recent history, including the prosecutions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols for the Oklahoma City bombing as well as the government’s responses to the Unabomber and the Montana Freemen
Took steps as a government attorney to ensure proper respect for the rights of criminal defendants, helping develop policies that require prosecutors to conduct an individual assessment of each case when making charging decisions, rather than just charging with the most serious offense possible
Was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in 1997 with strong bipartisan support from a majority of both parties in the U.S. Senate
Distinguished himself as a jurist who decides every case based on what the law requires, stating, “The role of the court is to apply the law to the facts of the case before it”
Known as a meticulous jurist with a skill for building consensus, an approach that has earned him bipartisan support throughout his career
However, The Hill offers more:
Despite his lengthy résumé, Garland is somewhat of a surprise pick for Obama, who has valued racial, ethnic and professional diversity in his past judicial picks.
Garland is a white male who would not add religious diversity to the bench — he is Jewish. At 63, he would be one of the oldest people ever to be confirmed to the high court. Like five other current justices, Garland graduated from Harvard.
Garland’s lengthy paper trail built up over almost two decades on the federal bench could also give Republicans ample opportunity to find objectionable views.
The Senate confirmed Garland to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 1997 by a vote of 76-23. But McConnell and current Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) both voted against him.
Republicans argued Wednesday that it would be relatively easy to oppose Garland because McConnell and Grassley were on record against him nearly 20 years ago.
A senior GOP aide argued that Obama’s decision to pick the oldest judge on his short list shows that he doesn’t have much hope of getting the pick confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Seven Republicans who voted to confirm Garland to the circuit court are still in the Senate: Sens. Dan Coats (Ind.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Okla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) father, former Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), also voted for Garland.
Also from The Hill, Garland is known for being anti-gun:
[C]onservatives have pointed to Garland’s past decisions to show that this seemingly moderate nominee has not always been so moderate.
In a blog post for National Review, Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said Garland has a long record of being anti-gun that threatens Scalia’s most important decisions in D.C. v. Heller, a case that affirmed the Second Amendment and person’s right to keep and bear arms.
Severino pointed to Garland’s 2007 vote to undo a D.C. court decision striking down a ban on individual possession of a handgun. Garland, she said, voted with one of the court’s most liberal judges, David Tatel, to reconsider the ruling.
And statement from the American Conservative Union (ACU):
WASHINGTON DC – Once again, President Obama has shown his blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution by nominating a person to replace Justice Scalia who ignores the fundamental premise that our government is to be limited and citizen based. As a federal appeals court judge, Merrick Garland has tried to restrict individual rights and he has worked to expand the power of the federal government over Americans’ lives.
If it were up to Judge Garland, DC citizens would have been stripped of their Second Amendment rights and the EPA would have virtually unlimited control over the private property of Americans. Republican Senate leaders should be applauded for standing on principle and upholding their role of advice and consent in filling Supreme Court vacancies.
President Obama considers the Constitution a series of old-fashioned suggestions rather than the law of the land. The Senate should continue to stand strong and prevent a lame-duck president from remaking the court for decades to come.
We call on the Senate to exercise its Constitutional right not to consent to this nomination.