Commentary

The case for considering Supreme Court nominee Garland is overwhelming

It’s official now; the United States Senate is run by men and women (mostly men) with the temperament, credibility and honesty of spoiled children trying to manufacture reasons why they won’t play with a new kid in the neighborhood. Let’s hope the facts and quotes regarding new Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (see just a few of them below) are so overwhelming that, eventually, even Mitch McConnell and company are forced to tuck their tails and retreat from their absurd obstructionism.

Key facts

  1. Chief Judge Merrick Garland has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. No one is more qualified to immediately serve on the Supreme Court.
  2. He is one of the best appellate judges in the country – a brilliant, meticulous jurist with a knack for building consensus. That has been true ever since his strong bipartisan confirmation in 1997 to the D.C. Circuit, where he has served as Chief Judge for over three years.
  3. This approach has earned him bipartisan praise throughout his career – he was confirmed with majority support from both parties; Senator Orrin Hatch described him as “a consensus nominee,” and Chief Justice Roberts explained “anytime Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area.”
  4. Garland has distinguished himself as a jurist who plays it straight and decides every case based on what the law requires. In his own words: “The role of the court is to apply the law to the facts of the case before it—not to legislate, not to arrogate to itself the executive power, not to hand down advisory opinions on the issues of the day.”
  5. Garland has dedicated his life to public service, choosing to serve his country and take on some of the most difficult and significant anti-terrorism cases in our nation’s history.
  6. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, Garland led the investigation and prosecution that ultimately brought Timothy McVeigh to justice – working with federal agents, rescue workers, local officials and others.
  7. Garland also kept in close touch with Oklahoma City victims and their families throughout the case, and for several years afterwards as well.
  8. Beyond the courtroom, Garland is a committed mentor. In addition to mentoring hundreds of law clerks throughout their careers and encouraging them to pursue public service, Garland has for almost twenty years, tutored second, third and fourth grade students in Northeast DC in reading and math.
  9. Garland is a dedicated family man. He and his wife of nearly 30 years, Lynn, have two daughters, Becky and Jessie. The family enjoys skiing, hiking and canoeing, and together they have visited many of America’s national parks.

Quotes from prominent figures

Sen. Hatch: “[Obama] could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man.” [NewsMax, 3/13/16]

Reuters: “Senator Orrin Hatch said he had known [Garland], seen as a leading contender for the Supreme Court, for years and that he would be ‘a consensus nominee.’” [Reuters, 5/6/10]

Sen. Leahy: “What Senators ought to be talking about is the fact that Merrick Garland is a superb nominee. He has been seen as a superb nominee by Republicans and Democrats alike, by all writers in this field. At a time when some seem to want people who are not qualified, here is a person with qualifications that are among the best I have ever seen.” [Congressional Record, 3/19/97]

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: “Any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you’re in a difficult area. And the function of his dissent, to make us focus on what we were deciding and to make sure that we felt we were doing the right thing, I think was well-served. But Judge Garland disagreed, and so it’s obviously, to me, a case on which reasonable judges can disagree.” [Transcript: Day Three of the Roberts Confirmation Hearings, 9/14/05]

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad: “I am writing to ask your support and assistance in the confirmation process for a second cousin… Merrick Garland has had a distinguished legal career.” [Letter from Gov. Terry Branstad to Sen. Chuck Grassley, 10/10/1995 via Congressional Record, 3/19/97]

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating: “Last April, in Oklahoma City, Merrick was at the helm of the Justice Department’s investigation following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the bloodiest and most tragic act of terrorism on American soil. During the investigation, Merrick distinguished himself in a situation where he had to lead a highly complicated investigation and make quick decisions during critical times. Merrick Garland is an intelligent, experienced and evenhanded individual.” [Letter from Gov. Frank Keating to Sen. Bob Dole, 2/19/1996 via Congressional Record, 3/19/97]

Ed Whelan, former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice and former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: “He’s earned the respect of a range of folks, including conservatives, and I think he is the most likely to exercise judicial restraint.” [Washington Post, 4/23/10]

Charles J. Cooper, Assistant AG for the Office Of Legal Counsel in the Reagan Administration: “Not only is Merrick enormously gifted intellectually, but he is thoughtful as well, for he respects other points of view and fairly and honestly assesses the merits of all sides of an issue. And he has a stable, even-tempered, and courteous manner. He would comport himself on the bench with dignity and fairness.” [Letter from Charles J. Cooper to Sen. Orrin Hatch, 11/9/1995 via Congressional Record, 3/19/97]

Former Associate Attorney General Jay B. Stephens: “In sum, his service as an Assistant United States Attorney was marked by dedication, sound judgment, excellent legal ability, a balanced temperament, and the highest ethical and professional standards. These are qualities which I believe he would bring to the bench as well.” [Letter from Jay B. Stephens to Sen. Chuck Grassley, 11/28/1995 via Congressional Record, 3/19/97]

Curt Levey, Executive Director of the Committee For Justice: “You’ll have, if not a love fest, something close to it if [the choice is] a Garland.” [NY Mag, 4/23/2010]

Carrie Severino, Chief Counsel and Policy Director to the Judicial Crisis Network: “But of those the President could nominate, we could do a lot worse than Merrick Garland… He’s the best scenario we could hope for to bring the tension and the politics in the city down a notch for the summer.” [Washington Post, 4/23/10]

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