The White House has announced that Merrick Garland, currently the chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, is President Obama’s nomination to replace Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court. Considered a moderate that would appeal to Republicans, Merrick faces an uphill battle in his nomination because leading Republicans have vowed to not hold a hearing due to it being an election year. But what is his history on the hot button issue of gay marriage and rights?
Garland’s history with the LGBT community is not extensive but it is spotty. According to Keen News Services, which reports on national LGBT legal and political news:
Garland joined a decision that upheld a Federal Communications Commission action against the operator of a low-power radio broadcaster serving the gay community. And he joined then D.C. Circuit Judge John Roberts Jr. in a decision rejecting police liability for misconduct by officers who sprayed a chemical deterrent on members of a pro-gay protest group during President George W. Bush’s first inaugural parade.
In regards to other social issue, SCOTUS Blog writer Tom Goldstein describes Garland as more conservative on the rights of criminal defendants but more left-leaning on things like freedom of speech and environmental issues.
Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is legal in all 50 states under the Fourteenth Amendment. The 5-4 ruling just before many Pride Parade weekends were about to kick off, most notably in New York City. The ruling overrode bans in 13 states against gay marriage, enforcing the law of equal rights all across the United States. The Supreme Court justices found that under the 14th Amendment, all states must recognize same-sex couples and allow same-sex unions.