Who is Merrick Garland and Why is a Democratic President Letting Orrin Hatch Pick the U.S.S.C. Nominee?
Better Question: Why Hasn't Obama Appointed Even One Liberal to the U.S. Supreme Court?
March 16, 2016. Washington, District of Columbia. President Barack Obama has nominated Associate Justice Merrick Garland of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to fill the vacancy created by the death of U.S.S.C. Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Garland , recommended to Obama by ultra-conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, comes from Rahm Emanuel’s and Barack Obama’s Chicago. Like Rahm Emanuel, who supported the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, Garland appears to have little regard for criminal suspects. He has generally ruled against habeas corpus petitions and has effectively supported the removal of rights from Guantanamo detainees in his holding that the federal courts could not hear the cases of Guantanamo detainees. His record shows that he is pro-prosecution and that criminal defendants and their Constitutional rights do not do well in his appellate courts. In the 90's, Garland was hired by Bill Clinton as a deputy assistant attorney general to prosecute cases in connection with the crime bill that sent a disproportionate number of Blacks into prison, making America the country with the largest percentage of its population in prison of any country in history, including Stalinist Russia and Hitler’s Germany.
The Chicago connection is troubling to many as several of Obama’s buddies from Chicago have wound up in prison or accused of corruption. Among those in this click were Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich. Many of these individuals have AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee) ties. Rahm Emanuel, showed his loyalty was to Israel over the United States when, during the First Gulf War, Rahm went to Israel and put on an Israeli (not an American) uniform. AIPAC is a top pro-war lobbyist and supporter of Guantanamo and the detainment of Muslim-Americans, troubling to those who are concerned about Garland’s voting record with respect to Guantanamo.
In the United States, the right to a fair trial for criminal defendants has been eroded. The PATRIOT Act and the National Defense Authorization Acts have overridden the Constitution with regards to the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eight Amendments and with respect to habeas corpus. Garland’s voting record with respect to habeas corpus is more than troubling.
At a time, when the United States is the only nation in the Western world that executes its citizens in death chambers, Garland’s seeming lack of concern for the wrongfully incarcerated is especially troubling. The death penalty is used disproportionately against people of color, making it more a tool of genocide than of criminal justice. Many feel abolition of the death penalty should be a litmus test for any upcoming justice.
With privacy rights eroded, will the police have the right to break into your bedrooms at night or to confiscate your possessions without a warrant? Will America go back to rubber-hosing confessions out of the innocent? Many Constitutional advocates had hoped that a nominee with a strong understanding of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments would be considered. What about the right to a unanimous jury verdict or the right to competent counsel or the right against cruel and unusual punishment? Garland’s past cases do not show whether he is likely to support these Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as a Supreme Court Justice. For the most part, he is an unknown, with a troubling history when it comes to Constitutional rights of a suspect.
Choice advocates claim they don’t want Donald Trump (who is pro-choice) appointing justices, but Barack Obama has now nominated a man who may or may not be pro-choice. Garlands position on this issue is unknown.
Garland has been described as a minimalist. This would likely place him among those who would refuse to recognize the Constitutional property rights of American citizens.
In many ways, Garland is no less conservative than someone Trump or other Republicans would nominate. So why do Democrats worry about Republican appointments when the Republicans are likely to nominate the same people as Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Clinton is pro-death penalty and pushed the mass incarnation bill. The only Democrat running for President who is likely to appoint someone other than a conservative is Bernie Sanders, who is a strong advocate for the Bill of Rights.
In most areas, Garland's positions are unknown. He clerked for two well-known Republican justices and later worked for both a corporate law firm and for Bill Clinton, the President who pushed through "New Democrat" reforms to the Democratic Party that were designed to align the Democratic Party with Republican and Wall Street's agendau and values.
Perhaps the best hope for liberals in this nomination comes from Garland’s past apprenticeship for U.S.S.C. Justice William J. Brennan, appointed to the Supreme Court by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Justice Brennan was one of the prominent members of the Warren Court who helped with the expansion of human rights during his time there. Justice Brennan was also an opponent of the death penalty. Did Brennan’s philosophy rub off on Garland? That is what the judiciary committee hearings will show.
While Garland would not be a bad appointment for a Republican President, Obama has failed to nominate one genuine liberal to the U.S. Supreme Court during his seven years in office. Justice Sonia Sotomayor believes in a worldwide battlefield theory, which would allow for the indefinite detention and execution of Americans and other people around the world and in the United States as enemy combatants. That’s not too liberal unless you are to the right of George W. Bush. Currently, the most liberal Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court is Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has often had to single-handedly fight to protect the Constitution and to pull other Clinton and Obama appointees from the far right (sometimes from bigoted positions) back to the center.
If Obama were interested in appointing a liberal justice without hassles from the Republicans, George W. Bush set a precedent with his recess appointments of nominees he did not expect Congress to approve. This has been discussed in Democratic circles but Obama decided to go with the Republican alternative, instead.
A serious question that arises is whether Justice Garland will recuse himself if a criminal case involving his former boss Bill Clinton or Bill's wife Hillary Clinton rises to the Supreme Court level. Given the calls for the arrest of Bill and Hillary Clinton in connection with election crimes and serious questions regarding whether Hillary Clinton will be indicted in connection a diversion of Clinton Foundation donations intended for Haitian Earthquake victims into her campaign or in connection with divulging government secrets in her private emails, it is more than possible that such a case could arise and be appealed to the Supreme Court level.
While most liberals are worried about the Garland appointment and while the Republicans are grandstanding and pretending they are not happy Obama picked their choice, strong, detailed hearings could be used to flesh out Garland’s positions on issues where there is only suspicion of where he stands.
Progressives and liberals are cautioning their friends not to jump in behind Obama in supporting a nominee that may be out of touch with the U.S. Constitution. With this nomination, so far it appears the Republicans got a nominee more conservative than what a Republican President could been able to get confirmed. Only the hearings will tell for sure. So why are the Democrats worried about the future of the Supreme Court under a Republican Presidency?