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Weaponized Justice, Merrick Garland, A Quick Review

Hat Tip ChatGDP for the summary

Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court by then-President Barack Obama in 2016 became a significant and contentious moment in U.S. political history. After the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a federal appeals court judge, to fill the vacancy.

However, the Republican-controlled Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused to hold hearings or vote on Garland’s nomination. Their argument was based on the idea that the vacancy should be filled by the next president, allowing the American people to have a say in the selection through the upcoming election. This stance became known as the “McConnell Rule” or the “Biden Rule,” referring to a similar argument made by McConnell in 1992.

Here are some key points and talking points related to the non-confirmation of Merrick Garland:

  1. Election Year Argument:
    • Republicans, including McConnell, argued that it was an election year, and the nomination should be delayed until after the presidential election so that the people could have a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court justice.
  2. President Obama’s Perspective:
    • President Obama and many Democrats accused Republicans of obstructing the nomination process for purely political reasons. They argued that Garland was a highly qualified and moderate nominee who deserved a fair hearing.
  3. Historical Precedent:
    • Both sides cited historical precedent to support their arguments. Republicans pointed to instances where nominations were delayed during election years, while Democrats highlighted instances where nominations were confirmed during such years.
  4. Impact on the Supreme Court:
    • The vacancy left by Scalia’s death persisted for an extended period, leading to an eight-member Supreme Court. This had implications for several decisions and potentially shifted the ideological balance on the Court.
  5. Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett:
    • In 2020, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republicans took a different approach, swiftly confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the presidential election, prompting accusations of hypocrisy from Democrats.

The refusal to hold hearings for Merrick Garland and the subsequent confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett became significant talking points during the 2016 and 2020 election cycles and contributed to the ongoing debates over Supreme Court nominations and processes.


PRior to 2016 what are some of the key issues that Garland either weighed in on by interview, or shown to weigh in on by hotly contested court casesChatGPT

Merrick Garland, as a federal appeals court judge for the D.C. Circuit, had a lengthy judicial record, but identifying specific issues where he publicly weighed in through interviews or hotly contested court cases can be challenging. Federal judges often refrain from making public statements on controversial issues to maintain impartiality. However, some aspects of Garland’s judicial record can provide insights into his approach:

  1. Criminal Justice and National Security:
    • Garland gained attention for his work on criminal justice and national security cases. He was involved in several cases related to terrorism, including the Oklahoma City bombing and the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh.
  2. Environmental Regulation:
    • Garland participated in cases related to environmental regulation. For instance, he was involved in the 2003 case Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, which dealt with the protection of endangered species and the implications for private land use.
  3. Administrative Law and Executive Power:
    • His judicial decisions often involved administrative law and the power of the executive branch. Garland was known for his careful consideration of agency decisions, emphasizing the importance of deference to agency expertise.
  4. Privacy and Surveillance:
    • In the post-9/11 era, Garland was involved in cases addressing issues of privacy and government surveillance. He demonstrated a nuanced approach to balancing national security concerns with individual rights.
  5. Business and Antitrust:
    • Garland’s opinions on business and antitrust matters were part of his judicial record. His decisions reflected an understanding of complex economic issues.
  6. Labor and Employment:
    • Garland had experience with labor and employment cases. His rulings often considered the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers.

It’s important to note that the D.C. Circuit, where Garland served, hears a wide range of cases involving administrative law, government actions, and regulatory matters due to its jurisdiction over federal agencies. While specific issues he may have commented on through interviews before 2016 might be limited, his judicial decisions and opinions provide a comprehensive view of his approach to the law.

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