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Monday, February 18, 2019

Merrick Garland, a D.C. Circuit Court judge for the past 19 years, was nominated to the Supreme Court to fill the late Antonin Scalia’s seat by President Obama today.

Considered a moderate and well-liked by both Democrats and Republicans — President Obama noted that in his three Supreme Court nominations, the one name that repeatedly came up from advisors of both parties was his — the 63 year-old Chicagoan has a reputation of being compassionate and fair-minded.

Garland said the most notable work he’s ever done was in Oklahoma City, where he led the prosecution against bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Describing the effects of the case on his judicial philosophy, he spoke of the importance of assuring the families of victims and perpetrators “that the justice system could work.”

“I saw up close the devastation that can happen when someone abandons the justice system as a way of resolving grievances, and instead, takes matters into his own hands,” he said. “We promised that we would find the perpetrators, that we would bring them to justice, and that we would do it in a way that honored the Constitution… People must be confident that a judge’s decisions are determined by the law and only the law. For a judge to be worthy of such trust, he or she must be faithful to the Constitution and to the statutes passed by the Congress.”

Obama was particularly taken with how Garland went about the case:

Throughout the process, Merrick took pains to do everything by the book. When people offered to turn over evidence voluntarily, he refused, taking the harder root of obtaining the proper subpoenas instead, because Merrick would take no chances that someone who murdered innocent Americans might go free on a technicality.

Merrick also made a concerted effort to reach out to the victims and their families, updating them frequently on the case’s progress. Everywhere he went, he carried with him in his briefcase the program from the memorial service with each of the victims’ names inside, a constant searing reminder of why he had to succeed.

Garland has an impressive resume — he was valedictorian of his public high school where he won a scholarship to Harvard, graduating summa cum laude and then attending Harvard Law. He clerked for two Eisenhower appointees, Henry Friendly and Chief Justice William Brennan, before entering the international law firm Arnold & Porter, where he became partner after four years.

According to Obama, he took a 50 percent pay cut when he left the firm in 1989 to work as a federal prosecutor under George H.W. Bush, later moving to the Justice Department where he was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and then Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General. He was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit Court, often considered the second-highest court in the land, in 1997 by a 76-23 vote.

Garland was undoubtedly picked because it will be difficult for Republicans to refuse his candidacy. Obama infused his speech with requests for the Senate to fill its constitutional duty by giving the man a fair hearing:

If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair. It will mean everything is subject to the most partisan of politics, everything. It will provoke an endless cycle of more tit for tat and make it increasingly impossible for any president, Democrat or Republican, to carry out their constitutional function.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with a spate of other prominent Republicans in the Senate, have declared that they will oppose any nominee Obama puts forth, insisting that the confirmation process waits until after the presidential election, going against precedent.

The president is making it very, very hard for Republicans to say no — especially Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who’d been effusive in his support for Garland and then kowtowing to the party line.

It’s not just Garland’s temperament and accomplishments that should make his nomination path clear for Republicans. He also fits the mold of a Supreme Court justice. Via USA Today:

Like five current justices as well as the late Antonin Scalia, who he would replace, Garland attended Harvard Law School. Like Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, he’s a former prosecutor. Like Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas andRuth Bader Ginsburg, he comes from the powerful D.C. Circuit court.

Garland isn’t even the first Supreme Court nominee to earn undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard, clerk for Judge Henry Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, work at the Justice Department, become a partner at a major Washington, D.C., law firm, and serve on the D.C. Circuit. Roberts did all that.

For those who lament that Obama didn’t suggest a judge who would more squarely fit into a progressive agenda — or who merely wasn’t a white man — one thing should give them hope: Many of Merrick’s former law clerks have gone on to clerk for left-leaning justices, including Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagen and John Paul Stevens, who is retired.

Photo: President Barack Obama smiles after announcing Judge Merrick Garland (L) of the United States Court of Appeals as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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30 responses to “Who Is Merrick Garland?”

  1. JPHALL says:

    Oh my! Who now is not following the Constitution?Should Obama sue the Republican Senate for being unconstitutional?

    • itsfun says:

      There is not any time frame set in the Constitution for a Senate vote. The Republicans are just following the “Biden rule”.

      • charleo1 says:

        Please remind us, on what SC nominee proposed by a Republican Pres. has the Democratic Party refused to do their Constitutionally mandated duty in the role of advice, and consent? To do their jobs? But more than that, I think at some point the excuses for the kind of Party first, last, and always politics being practiced by the current crop of GOP leadership needs to stop. And the supporters of this kind of radicalism on the Right need to once and for all admit the are engaging in purposefully harmful behavior to the Country, and to the reputation of the Republic. And be straightforward about what their ultimate goals, and endgames are, once, and if they manage to bring down the Central Government of the U.S.

        • itsfun says:

          The Republican Party is engaging purposefully in behavior to save our country from extreme left wing crazies. Their ultimate goal is the preserve our nation and follow the 10 amendment to save our States rights. The Constitution only demands that the Senate consider a nominee. There is no time mandate or mandate to approve anyone. It is the preaching of the current Vice President of the US that the Senate not approve a SC candidate during a election year. You should be happy, that the Republicans are following the advice of the Vice President.

          • charleo1 says:

            Well, so you say. Without any evidence at all of it being so. It takes some moxie nowadays for the Right to assume the Left is so unhinged, that extreme measures are needed to, quote, save the country from them. Plus your history is wrong. But if it were so. If the Dems, had refused to consider a sitting President’s SC nomination. Would that not have been equally as wrongheaded? Equally as big a failure to do their jobs? Equally as liable to open up a tit for tat response from Senate leadership at any time the opportunity presented itself? Then, how does that promote good governance, or “save the Republic in any way? To intentionally disallow the function of governance, the filing of government positions, then complain of the disfunction, is hypocrisy at it’s most dangerous level.

          • itsfun says:

            Like I said, the Republicans are just doing what the Vice President of the US said should be done.

          • charleo1 says:

            And, like I said, if Biden advocated such a block, he was every bit as wrong as the Republican lead Senate is actually being today. BTW, Is this the only instance that you can remember where you have agreed with a Democratic Vice President? It’s no excuse to be wrong, just a convenient trope. Something you’ve heard the RW throw out there.

          • itsfun says:

            Nope; I like Biden and I voted for a Democrat for my state’s governor and US Senator

      • JPHALL says:

        Subject: Re: Comment on Who Is Merrick Garland?

        • itsfun says:

          Never said it was. Words do mean something though.

          • JPHALL says:

            Yes, words mean something. But actions are more important. Try using them correctly. Stop using non-existing things to try and make your point. Subject: Re: Comment on Who Is Merrick Garland?

          • itsfun says:

            So Joe Biden didn’t say anything about approving a SC nominee in a Presidents last year? Words only mean something to you when you agree with them. If you don’t like what I post, then don’t read what I post. I’ll post what I want whether you like it or not.

          • JPHALL says:

            What I disagree with is that you refused to tell the whole story. What did he and the other Democrats actually do? They confirmed a justice.
            Subject: Re: Comment on Who Is Merrick Garland?

  2. Otto T. Goat says:

    It’s funny Obama couldn’t find an even semi-qualified black.

    • Mr Corrections says:

      “All Obama’s decisions have to be motivated by race! Also, if he fails to select someone based on race, I will literally soil my panties in rage!”

  3. Otto T. Goat says:

    “For those who lament that Obama didn’t suggest a judge who would more squarely fit into a progressive agenda — or who merely wasn’t a white man”

    He’s not white, he’s a Jew.

  4. Dominick Vila says:

    It really does not matter how qualified and impartial Judge Garland is, the GOP is not interested in letting someone who may make decisions based on the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and they definitely don’t want to let a man they hate add to his legacy by nominating another Supreme Court Justice.
    Their childish behavior is one of the most important reasons for the intense dissatisfaction that so many Americans feel towards our politicians in Washington. Let’s send them an unmistakable message in November…in addition to keeping the White House and getting the Senate back.

  5. I of John says:

    Our resident troll is showing his true colors. Bed Sheet white.

  6. itsfun says:

    My guess is the Republicans will agree with Obama if a Democrat wins the Presidential election. If a Republican wins the Presidential election, they won’t approve any Obama appointee.

  7. charleo1 says:

    As President Obama pointed out yesterday, the Framer’s clear intent in establishing the third branch of government in unelected posts was to insulate it’s members for life, as much as is possible from the rancorous business of partisan politics. As he pointed out, the SC. is special. And we must remember, if we are to protect our democracy from the worst influences we’ve seen a plenty in our elective politics in the other two branches, it must remain so. This is why the Republican’s willful violation of the spirit, if not the letter of Constitutional law, is a very questionable, and unwise precedent to set. For the most partisan of reasons to intentionally drag this special institution down into the same money driven pit that has served to sickened, and turned off so many Americans of late. Then, if they manage to do this, for the short term expediency of the moment. What of future controversial rulings? The function, and value of the SC to settle with a certainty that allows the greater country to move on from the contentious to get about the business at hand, could be damaged forever.

  8. Darsan54 says:

    You know, I remember praise for Ken Starr as a mature, rational jurist who wouldn’t put partisan interests ahead of the facts or good of the country. Deja Vu anyone?

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