WASHINGTON—Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey has supported Democratic nominees to the Supreme Court in the past but announced he would oppose Judge Merrick Garland after he met with President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 2009, Toomey supported Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the High Court. The following year, he opposed Elena Kagan’s nomination.
Locked in a tough reelection fight, some on the political Left wondered if Toomey would come down on Garland, after the first-term senator agreed to the White House’s request to sit down and meet with the federal appeals judge.
After the meeting, Toomey praised Garland’s intellect, accomplishments, and demeanor. However, the senator also reaffirmed that he opposes Garland’s nomination, and penned an op-ed in PennLive to explain his reasons to voters in the Keystone State.
One principal reason is that Americans are about to choose a new president, and Garland’s taking Scalia’s seat would profoundly shift the balance of the nation’s highest court. “In that light, I believe it is sensible to allow the American people to participate in the choice of Justice Scalia’s successor less than seven months from now,” Toomey began.
But then Toomey added that, in addition to the imminent presidential election, aspects of Garland’s record gave him pause.
Toomey explained, “Under our Constitution’s system of checks and balances, federal courts play an essential role limiting executive abuses of power.”
Under the Obama administration, a sweeping new EPA rule would “have cost Pennsylvanians thousands of jobs” and raised costs on employers that have prevented hiring new workers or wage increases for current workers. This new regulation resulted in “practically zero environmental gains.”
When this EPA rule was challenged in court, “Garland was the deciding vote to uphold the 2012 regulations of coal-and oil-fired power plants. Although the EPA predicted that the regulations would impose up to $2,400 in costs for every $1 of benefit, the agency stated that the costs were irrelevant—a conclusion Garland upheld.”
In 2015, the Supreme Court reversed Garland’s D.C. Circuit appeals court in Michigan v. EPA, a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Scalia.
Toomey noted, “Had Judge Garland been on the Court instead of Justice Scalia, the rule would be in effect today, killing more jobs and doing more harm to Pennsylvania’s economy.”
Toomey also took issue with Garland’s voting to reverse a military tribunal’s decision to label certain suspected terrorists of being enemy combatants, resulting in 17 purported radical Islamic extremists being released, free to return to the battlefield.
Although he did not delve into it in this op-ed, Toomey has also expressed concern regarding Garland’s record of what the NRA characterizes as Garland’s opposing the Second Amendment right to bear arms. That right has gone before the Supreme Court twice in the past decade, with gun owners prevailing each time only by a single vote, with a 5-4 split decision.
Read the entire op-ed here.
Ken Klukowski is legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.