Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax and an early backer of President Donald Trump, told Business Insider that he thinks the President should work out a deal to put Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.
Ginsburg who, at 84, is the oldest sitting Supreme Court justice and one of the oldest in history, is a champion of the Court’s liberal wing and author of some of the most sweeping leftist opinions of the past quarter century. Ruddy believes it would be best to convince her to retire during Trump’s term in office by promising to fill her seat with Garland, originally nominated to replace conservative hero Justice Antonin Scalia.
Garland was appointed to the bench by the same Democratic president who nominated Justice Ginsburg for the Supreme Court, Bill Clinton. As a young lawyer, he clerked for hyper-liberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. He also volunteered for several Democratic campaigns before becoming a judge.
Because Senate Republicans were forced to invoke the “constitutional option” in order to get now-Justice Neil Gorsuch a vote before the full Senate — a vote he won 54-45 — simple majorities can now confirm Supreme Court nominees. In this new paradigm, appeals to consensus candidates are less likely to help get a nominee through in a situation, like Trump’s, in which the same party holds the Senate and the White House. Ruddy opposed the use of the constitutional option to confirm Gorsuch.
Ruddy said offering to replace Ginsburg with Garland would be a “huge move” for Trump. “They would remove a very liberal Democrat with a moderate, consensus Democrat, who I think Garland is,” he told Business insider.
Some take issue with Ruddy’s characterization of Judge Garland. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) explicitly rejected the “moderate” description. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) mocked the label, calling Garland “someone who would rule along with other liberals on the bench like Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor.”
Garland’s record on the Second Amendment has been subject to harsh criticism from gun rights activists. While a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, Garland voted to reconsider the ruling that eventually led to 2007’s landmark District of Colombia v. Heller decision confirming that the Second Amendment protected an individual Right to Bear Arms. The National Rifle Association took a strong stance against Garland’s initial nomination.
“Climate Change” enthusiasts were thrilled by Garland’s nomination, with left-wing environmental outfits like the Sierra Club promptly endorsing him. Garland ruled in that group’s favor in a 2004 case before him, one of many in which he found deference to the EPA and other organs of the administrative state prevents judicial review of their policy-making. Tom Goldstein, a liberal and eminent Supreme Court practitioner, wrote on SCOTUSBlog, “Judge Garland has strong views favoring deference to agency decisionmakers. In a dozen close cases in which the court divided, he sided with the agency every time.”
Garland’s 2016 nomination also raised eyebrows in the pro-life community and with religious freedom advocates. In the litigation over Obamacare’s birth-control mandate being applied to faith-based non-profits, Garland signaled his opposition to granting a religious exemption by voting against review of a rebuke his fellow DC Circuit judges issued to the Priests for Life in 2014.
Ruddy, who now suggests a compromise deal with Ginsburg to bring Garland to the Supreme Court, remains close to Trump. He told Business Insider the two still speak regularly. He apparently believes such a move would be politically expedient in today’s polarized climate in Washington, calling it “a sign for Trump that he’s willing to break through the political ice.”
Trump pledged during the campaign to appoint justices like the late Antonin Scalia to the nation’s highest court. He also proclaimed that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision mandating abortion-on-demand as the law of the land, was “wrongly decided” and could be changed. After the November 2016 election, an ABC exit poll found more than one in five voters thought Supreme Court nominations were the single most important issue to them this election cycle. Those voters broke for Trump by 17-points.