Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia, “has a very liberal view of gun rights,” according to Judicial Crisis Network (JNC), a judicial group run by a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Garland is the chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was nominated by Bill Clinton. Garland’s nomination languished in the Republican controlled Senate until after the 1996 election.
Republicans did not specifically object to Garland’s liberal views, but rather said the DC court did not need another judge and objected to the additional “cost to taxpayers of $1 million a year,” according to Senator Chuck Grassley.
As deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Clinton Justice Department, Garland supervised the prosecutions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case. He was responsible for major decisions in the case, including seeking the death penalty for McVeigh.
According to JNC chief counsel Carrie Severino, Garland’s judicial record “leads to the conclusion that he would vote to reverse one of Justice Scalia’s most important opinions, D.C. vs. Heller, which affirmed that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms.”
The Court ruled during its 2007-08 term that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm and that the D.C. law banning handguns was unconstitutional.
“Ultimately, the Court agreed with Heller that D.C.’s ban on all functional firearms in the home is unconstitutional ‘under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights,” writes Robert A. Levy. “Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) did not sign the brief. In fact, he reportedly stated, prior to issuance of the Heller opinion, that he backs the D.C. gun ban and opposes all laws allowing concealed carry.”
In January Obama announced a series of unconstitutional executive actions, including prohibiting the sale of firearms between individuals.
“Mr. Obama will now require that anyone who sells a gun, that is even an ‘occasional’ seller will be required to perform a background check. By defining what an “occasional seller” is, the president is essentially interpreting the law, a job reserved for the courts,” Judge Andrew P. Napolitano wrote after the actions were announced.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch sent a letter to the states demanding the federal government receive complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.
The FBI also announced it will tweak its background check system. The changes include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when”prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun.”
Republicans in Congress and state legislatures denounced Obama’s executive actions. “Congress must be swift to respond to any executive action, and there will certainly be legal challenges as well. This debate is about more than the Second Amendment. This debate is about standing up to an out-of-control President who refuses to follow the Constitution,” declared Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne.”
If Merrick Garland is nominated there will be little guarantee the highest Court will uphold the Constitution. It is now up to Republicans to reject Garland and force Obama to find another candidate or delay the appointment until a new president is in the White House.