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Americans Have Spoken: Senate Must Serve As Check And Balance

The NRSC released the following statement after President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

“In 2014, the American people spoke loud and clear, rejecting Barack Obama’s vision for the country and electing a Republican majority in the United States Senate. That check and balance is never more important than it is now, as a lame duck president attempts to re-shape the Supreme Court for a generation with a liberal judge who will only act as a rubber stamp for the very agenda voters already rejected.

“Merrick Garland is a liberal, an activist, and one of Obama’s most reliable allies in the judicial system. As a judge, Garland staked out an extremist position by backing job-killing energy regulations, paved the way for the release of dozens of Guantanamo detainees, and compiled a record of anti-Second Amendment activism that Obama himself would envy.

“For years, Garland has been identified as an ideologue who would loyally stand with the court’s liberal wing and bolster the radical Obama agenda. It’s no accident that Garland is Obama’s choice to protect his own legacy on his way out the door with an unprecedented power grab that would fundamentally alter the balance of the Supreme Court." – NRSC Communications Director Andrea Bozek

BACKGROUND

Garland Has Compiled A Record Of Anti-Second Amendment Activism

  • In 2007, Garland Voted In Favor Of A Review Of The D.C. Circuit’s Decision Invalidating The D.C. Handgun Ban, Which The Supreme Court Affirmed. “Garland also notably voted in favor of en banc review of the D.C. Circuit’s decision invalidating the D.C. handgun ban, which the Supreme Court subsequently affirmed.” (Tom Goldstein, “The Potential Nomination Of Merrick Garland,” SCOTUSBlog, 4/26/10)

  • “Among The Judges Who Voted In Favor Of Granting The Petition For Rehearing Were David S. Tatel And Merrick B. Garland, Both Clinton Appointees.” “After losing before the three judge D.C. Circuit panel, the D.C. government petitioned for a rehearing en banc. In other words, the D.C. government asked that the appeal be re-heard by a panel consisting of all the judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. On May 8, the D.C. Circuit announced that it had voted 6-4 against granting the petition for rehearing en banc. Among the judges who voted in favor of granting the petition for rehearing were David S. Tatel and Merrick B. Garland, both Clinton appointees.” (Dave Kopel, “D.C.’s Gun Ban: Round 2,” America’s 1st Freedom, July 2007)

  • The Federal Appeals Court “Let Stand A Ruling That Struck Down A Restrictive D.C. Ban On Gun Ownership,” But Garland Voted To Reconsider The Decision. “A federal appeals court in Washington yesterday let stand a ruling that struck down a restrictive D.C. ban on gun ownership, setting the stage for a potentially major constitutional battle over the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court. … [DC Mayor Adrian] Fenty and other officials had asked the full appeals court to review a ruling issued by a three-judge panel that struck down a part of the D.C. law that bars people from keeping handguns in homes. With its 6 to 4 vote to reject a hearing by the full court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sped up the timetable for a showdown. … Those voting to reconsider were Merrick B. Garland, Judith W. Rogers, David S. Tatel and A. Raymond Randolph.” (Carol D. Leonnig, “Full Court Will Not Review Ruling,” The Washington Post, 5/9/07)

  • In 2000, Garland Ruled In Favor Of Federal Government Plan To Retain Americans’ Personal Information From Background Checks For Firearm Purchases. “A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the FBI can hold on to gun purchase records for six months to ensure that a federal computer system that conducts millions of instant criminal background checks is working properly. The 2 to 1 ruling was a defeat for the National Rifle Association, which argued that the practice amounted to an ‘illegal national registration of gun owners.’ The NRA contended that the law requires the FBI to destroy records of approved purchases immediately. … Gun dealers are required to submit information about prospective buyers to the computer system in an effort to prevent sales to convicted felons, fugitives and other disqualified buyers. The information includes the customer’s name, sex, race, date of birth and state of residence. The computer is supposed to immediately generate a response for gun dealers that approves, rejects or postpones the sale for further investigation. … U.S. District Judge James Robertson dismissed the NRA’s lawsuit last year, concluding that the Justice Department acted reasonably in establishing auditing standards. The NRA asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Robertson’s ruling. Appellate Judges David S. Tatel and Merrick B. Garland, both Clinton appointees, rejected the NRA’s argument. David B. Sentelle, a Reagan appointee, dissented.” (Bill Miller, “Appeals Court Rules FBI Can Keep Gun Records,” The Washington Post, 7/12/00)

  • “In A 2000 Case, Judge Garland Ruled As Part Of A 2-1 Majority Against The National Rifle Association (NRA) In Its Challenge Of A Justice Department Regulation To Temporarily Retain Information Gathered During Background Checks For Firearms Purchases.” (Ben Conery and Kara Rowland, “Battle Lines Already Forming Over Shortlist To Fill Stevens’ Seat On The Supreme Court,” The Washington Times, 4/22/10)

  • America’s 1st Freedom Magazine: 2000 Case Signaled Garland’s “Strong Hostility To Gun Owner Rights.” “The Tatel and Garland votes were no surprise, since they had earlier signaled their strong hostility to gun owner rights in a 2000 case that had challenged the policy of Janet Reno’s Department of Justice of retaining for six months the records of lawful gun buyers from the National Instant Check System. At that time, the Tatel-Garland ruling flouted the 1968 federal law prohibiting federal gun registration, and also flouted the 1994 law that created the National Instant Check System and had ordered that instant check records of law-abiding gun purchasers be destroyed. (Attorney General John Ashcroft later ended Reno’s registration scheme.)” (Dave Kopel, “D.C.’s Gun Ban: Round 2,” America’s 1st Freedom, July 2007)

Garland Paved The Way For The Release Of Dozens Of Guantanamo Detainees

  • In 2008, Garland Ruled In Favor Of “The First Successful Appeal Of A Detainee’s Designation As An Enemy Combatant” In Case Of Guantanamo Detainee, Ordered Them Freed, Transferred Or Retried. “In reversing a military tribunal’s determination that a Chinese detainee was an ‘enemy combatant,’ a federal appeals court criticized the government’s evidence and compared its legal theories to a nonsensical 19th-century poem. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote in a 39-page opinion released yesterday that tribunals and courts must be able to assess whether evidence is reliable before determining the fate of detainees. That did not happen in the case of Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Uighur determined to be an enemy combatant by a tribunal that relied heavily on questionable evidence in classified documents, the appeals court found. The ruling, the first successful appeal of a detainee’s designation as an enemy combatant, ordered the government to release, transfer or hold a new hearing for Parhat. The opinion was issued on June 20 and was declassified and released yesterday.” (Del Quentin Wilber and Josh White, “Judges Cite Need For Reliable Evidence To Hold Detainees,” The Washington Post, 7/1/08)

  • Garland’s Opinion Had “Broad Implications For Scores Of Other Detainees” At Guantanamo. “The opinion could have broad implications for scores of other detainees classified as enemy combatants by Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The opinion is also likely to guide federal judges weighing evidence in up-coming hearings.” (Del Quentin Wilber and Josh White, “Judges Cite Need For Reliable Evidence To Hold Detainees,” The Washington Post, 7/1/08)

Garland Backed Job-Killing Environmental Regulations

  • Garland Was The Lone Dissenter In 2002 Ruling That Struck Down EPA Regulations. “The Environmental Protection Agency must rework part of its regulation to cut pollution in national parks and wilderness areas, a federal appeals court said Friday. The EPA rule issued in 1999 requires states to take action to reduce air pollution from power plants and other sources whose emissions drift often hundreds of miles, causing haze and visibility problems in remote areas such as national parks and wilderness. … In a 2-1 decision Friday, a three-judge panel upheld the program’s fundamental goal of the states implementing pollution controls that would return parks and wilderness areas to ‘natural visibility’ over 60 years. But the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said an EPA directive that states must require certain groups of polluters to use the ‘best available technology’ to cut pollution undermines states’ ability to decide how best to address the problem and is against the law. … Judge Merrick Garland filed a dissent, maintaining that the federal Clean Air Act expressly delegates authority to the EPA to make judgments on what steps should be required to reduce pollution. Judges Raymond Randolph and Harry Edwards disagreed.” (F. Josef Hebert, “Court: EPA Must Rework Plan To Cut Pollution In National Parks,” The Associated Press, 5/24/02)

Garland Would Move The Court To The Left And Protect The Obama Legacy

  • The Liberal Center For American Progress’ Think Progress Blog: “On Most Issues, Moreover, It Is Likely That Garland Would Side With The Supreme Court’s Liberal Bloc In Divided Cases.” (Ian Millhiser, “What we Know About The Judges Obama Is Reportedly Vetting For The Supreme Court,” Think Progress, 3/8/16)

  • National Journal: Garland’s “Overall Record Suggests That When The Supreme Court Splits Along Liberal-Conservative Lines, He Would Usually – If Not Always – Vote With Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, And Sonia Sotomayor.” “But Garland is no conservative. His overall record suggests that when the Supreme Court splits along liberal-conservative lines, he would usually – if not always – vote with Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor.” (Stuart Taylor, Jr., “Garland Born To Be A Judge,” The National Journal, 4/24/10)

  • NY Magazine’s John Heilemann: Garland Is Progressive “On Some Of The Most Important Issues Facing The Court – The Environment And Labor Law, To Name Two.” “On some of the most important issues facing the court – the environment and labor law, to name two – Garland is every bit as progressive as Stevens, and much more so than the older judge was when he arrived on the high court.” (John Heilemann, “The President And The Persuader,” New York Magazine, 4/23/10)

  • NY Magazine’s John Heilemann: Garland A Good Choice To “Protect The Legislative Gains Of His Presidency.” “And Garland’s tendency toward statutory deference … should be seen as a crucial quality by Obama, among whose main goals with this pick must be to protect the legislative gains of his presidency.” (John Heilemann, “The President And The Persuader,” New York Magazine, 4/23/10)

  • NBC News’ Justice Correspondent Pete Williams: Garland Has “The Right Kind Of Ideology” For President Obama. Williams: “I mean, the thing is now presidents tend to want younger nominees. If you look at the most recent trend, they’re nominating people in their 50s. That’s not Merrick Garland, but he’s the right kind of ideology.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 2/14/16)