Profs, Politicians React to Garland Nomination

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Two law professors at Case Western Reserve University, including one who has worked with President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, praise Judge Merrick Garland’s qualifications but doubt the Republican-led U.S. Senate would act on the nomination.

The Senate “probably will choose to hold out for not doing anything,” said Jonathan Entin, a constitutional law professor at CWRU’s School of Law.

Garland is generally regarded as a “very smart and very good judge,” Entin, who knows Garland professionally and has worked with him on various legal matters, said. He characterizes the nominee as a “moderate liberal” and “certainly is more liberal than” the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who he would replace, “so his appointment would change the balance of the court,” he said.

“However, he is a judge with an excellent academic and professional pedigree,” he added.

While Garland has been a “fairly moderate judge on the D.C. Circuit,” that doesn’t mean he necessarily would be a moderate Supreme Court justice, offered Jonathan Adler, a constitutional law professor at the CWRU School of Law.

“If I had to make a prediction, I would expect a Justice Garland to be more moderate, or closer to the center of the court, than is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, but it is hard to tell,” he said.

“As a judge on an intermediate appellate court, Garland has had an obligation to follow applicable precedent, and he has clearly taken this obligation quite seriously. On the Supreme Court, however, a Justice Garland would be freed from any such obligation, so his performance on the D.C. Circuit is not necessarily predictive of how he would act as a justice,” he said. “His time on the D.C. Circuit gives little indication of how he would rule on hot-button constitutional issues, such as abortion.”

Obama Administration allies offered their support for the nomination and praised the judge’s past bipartisan support.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said Garland has “a world-class legal mind,” has dedicated most of his life to public service and is respected by Democrats and Republicans.

“We cannot allow a seat on our nation’s highest court to sit vacant for 11 months because of partisan differences – the American people deserve more from their elected representatives,” Ryan said.

“President Obama is doing his job and nominating Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Now it’s time for senators to do our jobs,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.

“Senate Republicans have said they will refuse to even meet with this President’s nominee, much less hold a hearing and an up-or-down vote,” he continued. “But now we have an unquestionably qualified nominee who has earned support from both Republicans and Democrats in the past, so I expect my colleagues to put politics aside, do the job we were elected to do and give Judge Garland full and fair consideration. Anything less undermines our democracy.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., called Garland “eminently qualified” and said he looked forward to giving the nomination “the full consideration it deserves.”

Activist groups including Americans United for Change and Progress Ohio issued statements calling on the Senate, and in particular U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to act on the nomination,

“The notion that Senator Portman and Senate Republicans, many of whom walk around with the Constitution in their pockets, would shirk their constitutional responsibility and ignore the will of the voters who reelected President Obama overwhelmingly in 2012 is an abomination that is at odds with the views of the vast majority of the American people,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change.

“Such a blockade of a qualified nominee like Judge Garland, who has received bipartisan support in the past, reeks of politics and in poll after poll has proved to be an untenable position for Senator Portman and Senate Republicans politically,” he continued.

Republicans have pointed out past oppositions by Democrats, including Obama, Vide President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, to Supreme Court appointments in an election year and regarding the requirement to give a nominee an up-or-down vote.

The National Rifle Association issued a statement opposing the nomination. The president “has nothing but contempt for the Second Amendment and law-abiding gun owners” and already has nominated two justices who oppose the right to own firearms,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

“There is absolutely no reason to think he has changed his approach this time,” he continued. “In fact, a basic analysis of Merrick Garland’s judicial record shows that he does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.”

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