Gary Bauer / Mar. 18, 2016

Merrick the Moderate? Hardly

We are learning more about President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. The White House and its allies have attempted to spin a narrative that Garland is a moderate judge whom Senate conservatives should be eager to confirm. But he is hardly a moderate.

We are learning more about President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. The White House and its allies have attempted to spin a narrative that Garland is a moderate judge whom Senate conservatives should be eager to confirm. But he is hardly a moderate.

Guess who showed up at the White House [Wednesday] immediately after Garland’s announcement? Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, who issued a statement of support for Garland. If Cecile Richards is endorsing Garland, how moderate do you think he is on abortion?

A questionnaire Garland filled out for the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1995 suggests that he is a liberal activist. He volunteered his services as a Harvard-educated lawyer for the campaigns of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton. His assistance to Bill Clinton paid off — Garland landed a job as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department.

It’s no surprise that a Democrat president would nominate a judge who happens to be a Democrat. The difference is Garland’s political activism. How moderate do you think a Dukakis activist will be?

Radical environmentalists are happy with Garland. The president of the left-wing League of Conservation Voters said [Wednesday] that Garland “will be a welcome addition to the highest court in the land.” An environmental law professor at Harvard University said Garland is “a big shift from Scalia.”

If the radical environmentalists are praising Garland, how moderate do you think he will be when it comes to the EPA’s attempts to regulate energy industries out of business, raising your gas prices and electricity bills?

On other business-related matters, Politico reports that “Garland’s deference has typically proved beneficial to unions.”

A CNN reporter said [Wednesday], “A number of Democrats are happy about [the Garland nomination] because they believe that he’s qualified for the post and also has a liberal, more progressive bend in his background.”

Lastly, there is this gem from the New York Times. Four political scientists conducted an analysis of Judge Garland and concluded that he would fall to the left of Justice Stephen Breyer (a Clinton appointee) and Justice Elena Kagan (an Obama appointee).

Armed with this affirming analysis, the New York Times approvingly declared: “If Judge Garland is confirmed, he could tip the ideological balance to create the most liberal Supreme Court in 50 years.”

If the New York Times is confident that Judge Garland will create the most liberal Supreme Court in decades, he’s hardly a moderate.

It’s All About Politics

During his introduction of Judge Garland at [Wednesday’s] White House ceremony, President Obama said the following:

“At a time when our politics are so polarized, at a time when norms and customs of political rhetoric and courtesy and comity are so often treated like they’re disposable — this is precisely the time when we should play it straight, and treat the process of appointing a Supreme Court justice with the seriousness and care it deserves. Because our Supreme Court really is unique. It’s supposed to be above politics. It has to be. And it should stay that way.”

Virtually every media outlet played that quote [Wednesday] night in an effort to shame Senate conservatives, hoping they would cave in to Obama’s demand that Judge Garland be confirmed.

Talk about audacity! The man who filibustered Justice Samuel Alito is now telling us that his nominees should be above politics.

The left has been playing politics with the courts for decades. That’s the whole point of judicial activism — to force a radical agenda through the courts that they could not win at the ballot box.

Politics drove Ted Kennedy to demonize Robert Bork in 1986. Politics led then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden to tell President George H.W. Bush to not even name a nominee for a potential Supreme Court vacancy in 1992.

It was politics that led Senator Chuck Schumer in 2001 to hold a hearing specifically about the Senate’s role in vetting the ideology of judges. Why was Schumer so interested in ideology rather than temperament and qualifications? Because the left wants political judges, and Schumer was laying the groundwork for rejecting President George W. Bush’s judges based on politics.

Two years later, Schumer unapologetically declared, “Yes, we are blocking judges by filibuster. That is part of the hallowed process around here.”

It was politics that led Senator Charles Schumer to declare, “We should reverse the presumption of confirmation.” In other words, Schumer was putting an end to the traditional deference afforded to presidential appointments because he wanted to preserve the left’s political stranglehold over the courts.

And he made that statement in July of 2007 — well more than a year before George W. Bush’s term ended.

Every liberal president has appointed left-wing judges who shared their political views. I wish I could say the same for conservative presidents and their judges.

Why It Matters

While I support the strategy of not holdings hearings for Judge Garland, conservatives shouldn’t be making arguments about process and procedure. There are great principled arguments that should be made.

Barack Obama said that he wanted to fundamentally transform America, and he’s doing it. He has given government a major role in healthcare. His judges have redefined the institution of marriage. He has launched a full-throated attack on religious liberty.

What is at stake in this appointment is not some quaint notion of Senate process. Besides, as Harry Reid demonstrated, liberals will change the rules whenever it serves their interests to do so.

What is at stake is the freedom of individuals and business owners to practice their faith beyond the four walls of their church or synagogue. What is at stake is whether we will ever end abortion on demand. What is at stake is whether an American citizen has a right to own a firearm for self-defense.

If the left gets one more appointment to the court, virtually the entire conservative agenda — from limiting the power of the EPA to securing the border to what rules we have to follow in war — could be declared unconstitutional and off limits.

The reason this fight matters so much is that one more left-wing appointment means that future elections essentially won’t matter. If the Supreme Court is stacked with liberal activists, it will be next to impossible to make America the country we want it to be.

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