Merrick Garland is right now the Chief Judge of the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals. Based on some organizations like the Judicial Crisis Network, Garland is regarded “left-leaning on gun control.” This viewpoint comes from two cases which he presided relating to the Second Amendment.
One of these cases occurred in 2007 when he voted to review a restrictive gun law in the District of Columbia that had previously been shot down. The law, which was ultimately found unconstitutional by in the Supreme Court in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, required guns to be kept unloaded and disassembled, except if they were being utilized for legal recreational activities. Previously a U.S. District Court ruled against the restriction in favor of Heller and the D.C. Circuit upheld that ruling. Garland then voted on part of the court for the D.C. Circuit to reconsider their own previous ruling. Ultimately Garland’s choice was not a ruling against gun rights, but it still raises some eyebrows.
One clear signal that Garland may be anti-gun came from his NRA v. Reno ruling. In the Reno case the NRA contended that since the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun purchases briefly retained data of gun owners, it violated federal law forbidding the creation of a of gun owner registry. Garland was one of the two judges (out of the panel of three) that ruled against the NRA. The majority opinion read:
“Finding nothing in the Brady Act that unambiguously prohibits temporary retention of information about lawful transactions, and finding that the Attorney General has reasonably interpreted the Act to permit retention of such information for audit purposes, we affirm the district court’s dismissal of the complaint.”
In the long run this may matter very little as Republicans has vowed to block any nomination Obama tries to make. Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, had this to point out after the nomination announcement:
“In light of the contentious presidential election already well underway, my colleagues and I on the Judiciary Committee have already given our advice and consent on this issue: we will not have any hearings or votes on President Obama’s pick,” Mr. Lee said. “Any meeting with any nominee put forward by President Obama would only be a waste of the Senate’s time. The Court has very ably dealt with temporary absences in the past and will do so again now.”
Below you can click through a history of Merrick Garland’s judicial record and education