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A comprehensive report examining the judicial record of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court.
The Garland Record examines in detail Judge Garland’s views on access to civil justice, civil rights, administrative law (including the environment, labor, and workplace safety), national security and detainee rights, the Freedom of Information Act, criminal law, and constitutional issues including the First Amendment, Second Amendment, due process, and the scope of federal power. Notably, because of the nature of the cases brought before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals or the cases to which he was assigned, Judge Garland has no meaningful record on several hot-button issues, including reproductive and LGBTQ rights, affirmative action, the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses, “religious freedom,” or the death penalty. His views on those issues, therefore, cannot be discerned from the record this report examines.
Upon releasing the report, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said, “This report explores in detail every aspect of Judge Garland’s record and we have found absolutely nothing that could possibly be used as an excuse not to provide him with the public hearing and final up-or-down vote that Senate traditions and the Constitution mandate. Even the most controversial nominees of our time have been afforded the opportunity to present to the Senate and the American people their record, legal philosophy, and life story in hearings before the Judiciary Committee and no reasonable person can read this report and conclude that Merrick Garland is not entitled to the same.”
To conduct this exhaustive analysis, AFJ analyzed approximately 450 cases Judge Garland has decided as a judge on the D.C. Circuit, as well as his extra-judicial writings and materials from his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit.
After assessing the record, the AFJ report concludes that, “on the merits, Judge Garland is highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, and there is no legitimate basis for the Senate to deny him full and fair consideration. Throughout his judicial career, Judge Garland has demonstrated extraordinary intellect, fairness, humility, and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. And across issue areas, he has been a model of judicial restraint—strictly adhering to Supreme Court precedent, avoiding sweeping proclamations when a more narrow rationale will suffice, and restricting rulings to only those issues fully briefed and properly presented to the court. Judge Garland’s voluminous writings clearly establish that his approach to deciding cases is not about ideological outcomes, but about rigorous legal analysis, fully accounting for the relevant law and facts in each case.”
The Garland Record’s exploration of cases is both quantitative and qualitative, and deliberately seeks out aspects of the record that provide insight into Judge Garland’s decision-making, issue by issue. To detect patterns or trends, the report focuses on split-panel decisions in which different judges have voted in different ways. Particular attention is also paid to Judge Garland’s written opinions, which reveal his approach to judicial decision-making, substantive views, and temperament.