What Is Merrick Garland’s Position on Gun Control?

merrick garland, merrick garland gun control

Merrick Garland. (Getty)

The Chief Judge Merrick Garland, of the D.C. Circuit Court, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Garland, a former U.S. Attorney, has been a federal judge since 1997, when he was appointed to the circuit court by President Bill Clinton. Obama has urged the Senate to give Garland a nomination hearing and vote, but leading Republicans have vowed not to do that, because it is an election year.

But one issue that many are interested in is Garland’s stance on gun control. Here is what is known about his position on the Second Amendment:

In 2007, Garland voted to undo a D.C. Circuit court decision that struck down Washington D.C.’s strict handgun ban, according to the National Review.

The appeals court had reversed the law, which bans individual handgun possession, but Garland voted to reconsider that decision. According to the National Review, that decision makes Second Amendment supporters fear that Garland would try to undo D.C. vs. Heller. Scalia wrote the opinion in that ruling, which protects gun rights.

Judge Merrick Garland speaks in the Rose Garden. (Getty)

Judge Merrick Garland speaks in the Rose Garden. (Getty)

Tom Goldstein, of SCOTUSblog, wrote in 2010, “Garland also notably voted in favor of en banc review of the D.C. Circuit’s decision invalidating the D.C. handgun ban, which the Supreme Court subsequently affirmed. Garland did not take a formal position on the merits of the case. But even if he had concluded that the statute was constitutional, that view of the case would have conformed to the widespread view that, under existing Supreme Court precedent, the Second Amendment did not confer a right to bear arms unconnected to service in a militia.”

According to LawNewz, a decision that is also concerning to gun rights advocates, is his ruling in NRA vs. Reno, a 2000 lawsuit by the National Rifle Assocation that fought against the retention of background check information collected when guns are legally purchased.

Reno, then the U.S. Attorney General, argued that it was necessary and allowed under the Brady Act to retain the data for six months in order to audit the background check system. Garland ruled in her favor.

“These two instances are hardly defining in the grand scheme of things. Voting to review a gun ban is not the same as support for it. Likewise, upholding temporary retention of background information for the purpose of making sure the system works in no way restricts a person’s right to bear arms. But when Senate Republicans are already saying they will refuse any nominee, it would be surprising if they didn’t point to these cases when they justify their decision, or lack thereof,” Ronn Blitzer wrote for LawNewz.

7 Comments

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7 Comments

John Galt

You either support 2A or you don’t , not much in between. He clearly does not believe in the right o bear arms as indicated by his voting record.

Mike

Wylde and Galt, I am a strong supporter of our right to bear arms, but there is nothing here that says that this judge is against that right and there is definitely an in between on the 2nd. What is clear is that Garland doesn’t think the the Courts should be writing the laws themselves, and that it is their job to judge whether laws were broken and what they mean. (That is the biggest reason I support him – then there would be a liberal judge and a conservative judge on SCOTUS to go with the three Republicans and four Democrats.) There is a LOT of legal stuff going on here that you don’t seem to understand. For one, a 2-1 decision from one appeals court, even the highest appeals court, is a weak precedent. Some courts would follow it and some would ignore it, so it is better to get a stronger decision by bringing in the whole court-and none of it mattered when the case was taken by the supreme court anyway-they make rock solid precedent.) Constitutionally, our right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment, as it applies to a law such as DC v. Heller, brings up a thorny states’ rights argument. Only “inalienable” rights are protected by the Constitution from state encroachment – the Bill of Rights only limits the US government, unless a state denies you “equal protection under the laws”. DC v. Heller is the closest the Supreme Court has come to adding ‘bear arms’ to our list of inalienable rights-and you know how limited that decision was, and have probably (hopefully) read the majority opinion that told you how they are reading the 2nd face to face with a personal right to keep and carry arms. The parts of the Bill of Rights that you take for granted as “your rights” were slowly added to the list of “inalienable rights” one at a time by the Supreme Court. Before 1865 the idea that the Bill of Rights applied to the states at all was laughable. I think that ‘bear arms’ should and will be added to the inalienable list in the next couple decades (even with Garland on the Court), but it isn’t on the list now. I know you think it is, but it isn’t. (I’ll pause to note that the 2nd most certainly does apply to every stupid thing that Congress and Obama have tried to do about guns recently.)

James

He is no moderate if he is anti-Second Amendment. Down with him!

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