As soon as news broke that president Barack Obama would nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court there was a mad scramble in the gun community to find out where this Chicago-born, appeals-court-Clinton-appointee stood on guns.
On some level, I think we already know. If Clinton liked him enough to put him on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Obama likes him enough to put him on the highest court in the land, don’t we know all we need to know about this guy already as it relates to our 2A rights?
Probably so. But as we continue to vet Garland, we do have a write-up from Constitutional scholar and law professor David Kopel that comes courtesy of “America’s 1st Freedom.”
Merrick Garland is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He could be counted on not only to oppose Second Amendment rights in general, but even to nullify explicit congressional statutes that protect those rights.
In 2007, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled against the D.C. handgun ban in the case of Parker v. District of Columbia (which was the name of the case that eventually became District of Columbia v. Heller when it went before the Supreme Court). The D.C. government asked for a rehearing of the case, before all 10 judges of the D.C. Circuit.
Six judges voted not to rehear the case, while four judges voted for a rehearing, presumably because they disagreed with the three-judge panel that had ruled against the handgun ban. Garland was one of the four judges who wanted a chance to validate the handgun ban.
In 2000, Garland was on a three-judge panel that heard the case of NRA v. Reno. In that case, the Janet Reno Department of Justice had flouted the congressional statutes that prohibit the federal government from compiling a registration list of gun owners, and which required the destruction of national instant check (NICS) records of lawful, approved gun purchases.
Judge Garland voted to let Reno get away with it. He said that registering all the people who were approved by NICS was permissible because Reno was not registering every gun owner in the country. And he said it was fine for Reno to keep gun buyer records for six months because although Congress had said the records must be destroyed, it did not say “immediately.”
So, while his anti-gun status isn’t explicitly clear, it is apparent that he definitely leans toward the gun-control side of the debate.
Now, perhaps a more critical question: is there any chance that the Senate will approve Garland’s nomination and allow him to take a seat on the SCOTUS bench?
If we are to trust the GOP leaders in Washington, the answer is a resounding, “no,” as they claim to be committed to not only opposing any Obama appointee but even going so far as to preclude a confirmation hearing from taking place.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) made it clear once again that the upper chamber will not be considering Garland.
“It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election,” McConnell said Wednesday.
McConnell said that the Senate will “revisit” the matter at a later time, noting that the people should have some input in who fills the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different,” McConnell said.
So, it looks like Garland is not going to get his day in front of the Senate. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. GOP leadership doesn’t have the best record when it comes to fighting the Obama administration.
Beyond Garland though, our right to keep and bear arms hangs in the balance of the next president. The next president could appoint two, three maybe even four justices in his or HER term in office, which depending on who is in the White House could mean the beginning of the end of the Second Amendment.
Basically, if Hillary gets elected. We’re screwed. She’ll either re-appoint Garland (assuming he doesn’t have his confirmation hearing) or maybe even someone more radically anti-gun. And each of her subsequent nominees, we can assume, we’ll also be willing to go forth and repeal the 2A.
I don’t know who I’m voting for in 2016, but I know this, it’ll be anyone but Hillary Clinton!
Update: 4:22 p.m. EST, to add a statement from the NRA-ILA:
“With Justice Scalia’s tragic passing, there is no longer a majority of support among the justices for the fundamental, individual right to own a firearm for self-defense. Four justices believe law-abiding Americans have that right – and four justices do not,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA.
“President Obama has nothing but contempt for the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners,” Cox continued. “Obama has already nominated two Supreme Court justices who oppose the right to own firearms and there is absolutely no reason to think he has changed his approach this time. In fact, a basic analysis of Merrick Garland’s judicial record shows that he does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”
“Therefore, the National Rifle Association, on behalf of our five million members and tens of millions of supporters across the country, strongly opposes the nomination of Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court, concluded Cox.”