The time has finally arrived and we now have President Obama’s pick for a Supreme Court appointment to replace the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia. A man by the name of Merrick Garland is being propelled into the national spotlight after a brief announcement from Obama in the White House Rose Garden.
I’ll skip all the details concerning where Garland came from, what school he attended, and where he spent time clerking and under whom. You can read a million different news sources for that information. What you really care about is what he stands for.
In terms of judges, Obama could have gone way worse. He could have picked a social justice progressive, who was there to fill a leftist-imposed diversity quota. He – or more likely, she – would have been more applauded by the media and the mob for the color of her skin than anything she ever did in a court.
Garland, on the other hand, fulfills nothing on the left-wing checklist. He’s white, elderly and male, but this isn’t the main thing that surprises me about the nominee.
What surprises me is that the man is – for the most part – a centrist. This is a far cry from the progressive leftist we were expecting from Obama, and while Garland may still be a centrist who is left-leaning, he is known for breaking with his leftist peers and ruling against them.
SCOTUSblog.com has gone over many of these cases in detail (and I encourage you to read their analysis), and gave their opinion of him back in 2010.
“Of the three principal candidates, the other two being Solicitor General Elena Kagan and Judge Diane Wood, Judge Garland would also likely have the most immediate influence on the Court. He is well known to the Justices and is likely the most respected by them collectively, particularly the more conservative Justices. The fact that Judge Garland is not only extremely intelligent and respectful but exceptionally careful and quite centrist would mean that his views would have particular salience with, among others, Justices Kennedy and Alito.”
This salience may especially come during cases of criminal law, where Garland has shown to rarely vote in favor of criminal appeals to their convictions, and has disagreed in 10 criminal cases with this fellow leftists to do so.
But rest assured, Antonin Scalia, Garland is not. According to SCOTUS blog, Garland has been known to go green when it comes to environmental regulations, oftentimes ruling against industries and businesses that challenge the EPA’s restrictions.
It should also be known that Garland’s views on gun control appear to be in line with Obama’s. After a three-judge panel ruled against the district’s handgun ban, DC asked all 10 judges to rehear the case. While six declined to rehear it, four did, including Garland. This one fact alone has many conservatives worried, especially with the frequency of attacks against gun ownership increasing since Obama’s presidency.
One thing we do know is that Garland will likely not be a full on textualist, but he won’t be an intentionalist either. These two schools of thought within the Supreme Court define many of the decisions made by the judges.
Textualists tend to rule on bills and legislation as they were written, while intentionalists rule on the bills based on what they believe congress meant during the writing. Conservatives and Progressives tend to rule using both philosophies respectively, but Garland’s centrism may see him using both, as John Roberts has demonstrated from time to time.
One thing is for sure, that while Garland could be considered something of a centrist, his inclusion into the court would pull the center further left than it has ever been. Scalia, who was very conservative, would be replaced by a leftist, thus throwing off the balance of the court. As the New York Times has pointed out:
“If his past record is predictive, and Mr. Garland earns confirmation and votes with the court’s current liberal bloc, the new median justice will become Stephen Breyer, the most liberal median justice since 1937, when the scholarly rankings began. If Mr. Garland is more conservative than Justice Breyer but more liberal than Justice Kennedy, Mr. Garland would become the new median, the most liberal in nearly 50 years.”
Regardless, the GOP has vowed to block Garland’s appointment – but should Hillary Clinton win the general election, Garland may be best we’ll get.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Brandon Morse has been writing about politics and culture across many websites for the last six years, with a heavy emphasis on anti-authoritarianism. Aside from writing articles, he is also known for voice acting and authoring scripts. He is an avid gamer, dog person, and has a bad habit of making vague references to things no one has heard about or seen. Follow him at @TheBrandonMorse on Twitter.
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