On Wednesday, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Here are five quick facts you need to know about Garland.
1. Garland is considered anti-Second Amendment. As the National Review noted last week: “Back in 2007, Judge Garland voted to undo a D.C. Circuit court decision striking down one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation” and voted “to uphold an illegal Clinton-era regulation that created an improvised gun registration requirement.” Obama will use his pick to pursue a gun control agenda.
2. Garland has favored environmental regulations. As SCOTUSblog noted in 2010: “On environmental law, Judge Garland has in a number of cases favored contested EPA regulations and actions when challenged by industry, and in other cases he has accepted challenges brought by environmental groups.” That could be very important, with Obama’s Clean Power Plan in the balance.
3. Garland’s positions on abortion and social issues are murky. Some liberals are worried that Garland may not be unambiguously pro-choice. Richard Wolf of USA Today writes: “During 19 years at the D.C. Circuit, Garland has managed to keep a low profile. The court’s largely administrative docket has left him without known positions on issues such as abortion or the death penalty.”
4. Garland would maintain the Court’s demographic profile. He is the second Chicagoan Obama has nominated. He is no “wise Latina,” and is the first man Obama has chosen. But Garland, like Scalia, is a graduate of Harvard Law, keeping the number of Crimson justices at five. If confirmed, he would also be the fourth Jew on the Court, preserving the odd exclusion of evangelical Protestants.
5. Republicans have supported Garland in the past. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in particular has been outspoken in his support for Garland as the best Republicans could expect from the Clinton administration. More recently, he suggested he would welcome Garland’s nomination but predicted that Obama would make a more ideological pick. That makes Garland harder for the GOP to oppose.