Conservative Group Leading Obstruction Effort Against Merrick Garland Previously Lauded Him

Judicial Crisis Network -- Whose Head Called Garland "The Best Scenario" For An Obama Nominee In 2010 -- Now Warns He's "The Ideal Judge" To Move The Court Left

Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

Following President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on March 16, the discredited conservative legal group Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) released talking points referring to Garland as an "ideal judge" to swing the nation to the left and highlighting supposed examples of Garland's liberal ideology. But in 2010, the group's chief counsel described a potential Garland nomination in 2010 as "the best scenario we could hope for" in terms of bipartisan agreement on a Supreme Court pick.

In keeping with the group's widely chronicled attempts to re-brand itself with shifting partisan winds and to push misleading information on Obama's past judicial nominees, the chief counsel to JCN described a potential Garland nomination in 2010 as "the best scenario we could hope for" in terms of bipartisan agreement on a Supreme Court pick.

On March 16, as the president prepared to announce his nomination of Garland to the Supreme Court, the Judicial Crisis Network released a series of "topline points" outlining its opposition to Garland's nomination:

WHO IS MERRICK GARLAND?

TOPLINE POINTS:

  • President Obama wants to move the Supreme Court dramatically to the left to cement his liberal legacy for decades into the future, and Merrick Garland has been called the ideal judge to do that.
  • Judge Garland's record on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals proves that he would be a reliable fifth vote for a laundry list of extreme liberal priorities, like gutting the Second Amendment, legalizing partial-birth abortion, and unleashing unaccountable bureaucratic agencies like the EPA and the IRS.
  • Judge Garland clerked for the court's liberal icon, Justice William Brennan, and was reportedly considered for a cabinet post in President Obama's administration.
  • In multiple cases, Judge Garland has demonstrated a remarkable level of hostility toward the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, voting to uphold D.C.'s very restrictive gun restrictions, and siding with the federal government in its plan to retain Americans' personal information from background checks for firearm purchases.
  • Judge Garland was the only dissenter in a 2002 case striking down an illegal, job-killing EPA regulation (the "Haze Rule") that would have, in the majority's words, forced businesses "to spend millions of dollars for new technology that will have no appreciable effect" on haze in the area. Garland would have upheld the rule.
  • Judge Garland has a long record of deference to unaccountable government bureaucrats at the Department of Labor, EPA and other agencies whose regulations kill jobs and stifle economic growth.

JCN's "topline points" state that Garland would be "the ideal judge" to "move the Supreme Court dramatically to the left" in order to "cement [Obama's] liberal legacy." The document also attacks Garland for being a "reliable fifth vote for a laundry list of extreme liberal priorities" if confirmed, and for having "clerked for the court's liberal icon, Justice William Brennan," and it pushes a debunked attack on Garland's record on the Second Amendment based on an action he took in 2007.

But in 2010, when Obama was considering Garland as a potential nominee to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, JCN chief council Carrie Severino said that Garland's nomination would be "the best scenario we could hope for" to ensure bipartisan comity. From The Washington Post:

Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network said Garland may be far more liberal than his rulings indicate because he has not yet publicly staked out his position on issues such as abortion.

"But of those the president could nominate, we could do a lot worse than Merrick Garland," Severino said. "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."

The Judicial Crisis Network -- previously known as the Judicial Confirmation Network -- has a long history of shifting its mission along with its name. JCN was founded during the George W. Bush administration to push through Bush's often-far-right nominees, "support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals to the Supreme Court of the United States," and "ensure that the confirmation process for all judicial nominees is fair and that every nominee sent to the full Senate receives an up or down vote." The group -- which once derided "'obstructionists' for blocking votes on Bush nominees" -- changed its name and mission after President Obama took office. Its current mission is to support "only highly qualified individuals who share" a vision of "limited government."

JCN plans to spend millions attacking the nominee and supporting obstruction. On February 18, JCN announced a "seven figure television, radio and digital advertising campaign on the importance of the Supreme Court in the upcoming presidential election." Severino described the goal of the campaign as giving "the people a voice. Let them decide in November what kind of Court they want." On February 29, Politico reported that the group was "ramping up its efforts to oppose" Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy with the release of an alarmist ad attacking the prospects of "one more liberal justice" on the court.

JCN's support for obstructing the nominee mirrors the Senate GOP's unprecedented blockade.

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