Merrick Garland and the Second Amendment
President Obama officially nominated DC Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The president dedicated a considerable amount of time during his announcement speech to make the case that Judge Garland is a “consensus” nominee.
But who is Judge Garland and how does he view the U.S. Constitution?
While much will be written and analyzed about Judge Garland and his judicial record in the coming days and weeks, Carrie Severino, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Chief Counsel and Policy Director at the Judicial Crisis Network, provides some insight to help answer that question. In a piece for National Review’s Bench Memos titled “The ‘Moderates’ Are Not So Moderate: Merrick Garland,” Severino wrote last week:
Garland has a long record, and, among other things, it leads to the conclusion that he would vote to reverse one of Justice Scalia’s most important opinions, D.C. vs. Heller, which affirmed that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Back in 2007, Judge Garland voted to undo a D.C. Circuit court decision striking down one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. The liberal District of Columbia government had passed a ban on individual handgun possession, which even prohibited guns kept in one’s own house for self-defense. A three-judge panel struck down the ban, but Judge Garland wanted to reconsider that ruling. He voted with Judge David Tatel, one of the most liberal judges on that court. As Dave Kopel observed at the time, the “[t]he Tatel and Garland votes were no surprise, since they had earlier signaled their strong hostility to gun owner rights” in a previous case. Had Garland and Tatel won that vote, there’s a good chance that the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had a chance to protect the individual right to bear arms for several more years.
Consensus nominee? You decide.