Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has a reputation for being a moderate — though to the credit of our fans, I should’ve noted in my piece announcing him as the nominee that he isn’t moderate on every issue.
Obama has made gun control a central issue to his final days in office — perhaps because it’s an issue where he attracts the least support from the American public. It’s not like he’s going to have to win another election if he faces opposition.
After radical nominees like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, it’s hard to believe Obama has no political motive in nominating Garland. He may be a moderate, but as National Review reports, on the gun issue, he’s anything but.
Garland has a long record, and, among other things, it 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.
Back in 2007, Judge Garland voted to undo a D.C. Circuit court decision striking down one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. The liberal District of Columbia government had passed a ban on individual handgun possession, which even prohibited guns kept in one’s own house for self-defense. A three-judge panel struck down the ban, but Judge Garland wanted to reconsider that ruling.
He voted with Judge David Tatel, one of the most liberal judges on that court. As Dave Kopel observed at the time, the “[t]he Tatel and Garland votes were no surprise, since they had earlier signaled their strong hostility to gun owner rights” in a previous case. Had Garland and Tatel won that vote, there’s a good chance that the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had a chance to protect the individual right to bear arms for several more years.
Moreover, in the case mentioned earlier, Garland voted with Tatel to uphold an illegal Clinton-era regulation that created an improvised gun registration requirement. Congress prohibited federal gun registration mandates back in 1968, but as Kopel explained, the Clinton Administration had been “retaining for six months the records of lawful gun buyers from the National Instant Check System.”
So sure, he’s moderate. In the same way that the “common sense” gun reforms that liberals propose are “common sense.”
[Note This post was authored by The Analytical Economist ]