Not long after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative lion on the Court, passed away in February of 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy left by Scalia.
This was a calculated move. Garland is known for having a staid and moderate demeanor. As the U.S. was then in a presidential election year, this political maneuver was designed to make U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) capitulate and, thereby, give the high court a 5-4 progressive majority.
The NRA, meanwhile, looked closely at Garland’s record and objected. The Court was then split evenly (four to four) on whether the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights protects an individual right; in fact, the now late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had just said in a speech that she wanted an opportunity to overturn the high court’s Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010) decisions, so the Court could eradicate the Second Amendment. Her opinion was backed by Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. A Justice Garland would have given them a majority to take away this critical individual right.
However, despite a relentless mainstream-media attack, Sen. McConnell didn’t even hold hearings for Garland. Soon, the threat to our freedom was parried by a Trump administration win.
Now, as this was going to print, President Joe Biden (D) said he would nominate Garland to be U.S. Attorney General. With this announcement, many in the media again began to call Garland a “moderate” choice.
This might be true with his temperament, but when it comes to the Second Amendment, Garland is no moderate.
An analysis of three cases that came before Judge Garland shows he doesn’t support our Second Amendment rights, which are historically undeniable by any reasonable person.
• In National Rifle Association v. Reno, on July 11, 2000, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court, of which Garland was part, upheld a U.S. Department of Justice regulation that permitted, during the Clinton administration, data obtained during background checks related to gun sales to be held longer than the law allows. This was a backdoor way to a gun-owner registry. Garland thought that was just fine.
• In Seegars v. Gonzales, on February 8, 2005, another three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court dismissed a challenge to D.C.’s handgun ban due to lack of standing. The plaintiffs petitioned for the challenge to be reheard en banc (meaning all the judges on the court would vote), but the petition was denied. Garland was one of the judges who voted against rehearing the challenge. Garland thought it was constitutionally okay for D.C. to even prevent residents from keeping home-defense guns at the ready.
• In Parker v. District of Columbia, on March 9, 2007, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court struck down D.C.’s handgun ban. The District petitioned for the case to be reheard en banc. The petition was denied, but Garland had voted in favor of rehearing the case en banc this time, as it would have given the Court a chance to undo a pro-Second Amendment ruling.
“From upholding a federal registry of law-abiding gun owners derived from the instant-background-check system created by the Brady Bill to siding with the District government by voting for a do-over in a Second Amendment decision that invalidated the D.C. handgun ban—exactly what the Supreme Court rightfully struck down in Heller—Garland has proved, the NRA believes, he does not support the Second Amendment,” said NRA-ILA in 2016.
In politics, it is important to disentangle personality from policy. Just because someone with extreme beliefs—such as the unhistorical belief that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right—has a calm, friendly demeanor, doesn’t mean their opinions are any less dangerous; in fact, they might be more so, as such a person might fool some of the people some of the time.
There were more volatile options Biden could have chosen, such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; nevertheless, Garland clearly doesn’t believe you have the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.