Merrick Garland was originally tapped to be a Supreme Court justice. That’s what President Obama wanted, and the Republican-majority Senate opted not to confirm him. After all, Obama had just days left on his second term. There was going to be a new president no matter how the election panned out.
As we know by now, President Trump nominated Justice Gorsuch and Garland was left right where he’d been.
Now, the former SCOTUS nominee has been tapped to serve as Joe Biden’s attorney general, and on Monday he’s completed the first major step in his confirmation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Merrick Garland to be attorney general by a bipartisan vote Monday, setting up a potential final floor vote on confirmation as early as this week.
The 15-7 vote was expected, as senators from both parties had indicated they supported Garland leaving his longtime spot on the federal appeals court in Washington to run the Justice Department.
Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the committee chair, said there wasn’t much left to say about Garland and called him “a man of extraordinary qualifications.”
“His life has been dedicated to public service and advancing values that are vital to the Justice Department’s functioning: integrity, independence, fidelity to the rule of law and a commitment to equal justice for all,” Durbin said.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, voted for Garland but aired concerns about how he would act on any Biden administration policies on gun control, the death penalty and illegal immigration.
“It’ll be up to Judge Garland to stand up to efforts to turn the Justice Department into an arm of the perfect progressive wing of the Democratic Party, as happened under President [Barack]Obama,” Grassley said.
In fairness, though, anyone Biden appointed to the role would likely be someone who turned the Justice Department into a progressive organization rather than an outfit simply dedicated to enforcing the laws of this nation.
Merrick Garland won’t be standing up to Biden, but neither would anyone else Biden would appoint.
Yes, there are concerns about Garland’s stance on guns–which is part of why we dodged a bullet when he was nominated to fill the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away–but we know those concerns. We knew them years ago.
For that reason alone, a lot of people will oppose Garland’s nomination. I get it. I don’t particularly care for Garland either.
Yet we should also remember that Garland isn’t a firebreathing anti-gunner, either. Yes, he’s on the wrong side of the issue, but he’s also not nearly as likely to direct the ATF to run rampant over gun rights with every potential ruling they make on new products, either. He’s honestly about the best we could have hoped for from the Biden administration.
Granted, that’s damning with faith praise, but it’s warranted. He’s not someone a Republican president would have nominated, after all. But Biden isn’t a Republican. That means we could have gotten a lot worse options.
So where does that leave us?
Well, anything passed in the next two years will need to be fought in the courts. That’s just a given at this point.
Then, we focus on 2022 and taking back Congress. At that point, Biden is effectively neutered from enacting his sweeping anti-gun agenda. We just need to hold on for two years.
Even Garland being confirmed is unlikely to change that.