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Merrick Garland's Confirmation Hearings Prove We Really Dodged a Bullet in 2016

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Mitch McConnell’s decision in 2016 to deny Merrick Garland a hearing upon his nomination to the Supreme Court by Barack Obama was incredibly controversial—and remains so to this day.

Nominated to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Obama White House and the media went into overdrive to paint Merrick Garland as a judicial moderate—a potential swing vote in the mold of Justice Anthony Kennedy rather than a staunch liberal in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Obama would never nominate a strict constructionist to the Supreme Court, and Merrick Garland was presented as a nominee that conservatives could feel comfortable supporting, given the circumstances.

Of course, we never got to see him explain his judicial philosophy, or answer questions about rulings he made because he never got that hearing. But on Monday, he proved that he is not the moderate he was claimed to be when he was nominated five years ago to the Supreme Court.

This is hardly new. The media painted all of the previous four Democrat-nominated justices as moderates. The New York Times said Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a “resolutely centrist judicial style” back in 1993. Stephen Breyer was described by the Washington Post as a “moderate judge with liberal leanings.” That same paper said of Sonia Sotomayor that “her record is clearly that of a moderate.” Elena Kagan, Obama’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, was described by the New York Times as “a pragmatic centrist Democrat” and the Los Angeles Times claimed that “her specialty was finding a middle position on the most contentious issues.” All four of them, once confirmed, were reliably liberal votes on the court. Merrick Garland would have been as well—and his testimony on Monday left no doubt on this.

Garland refused to commit to protecting special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the Obama-Biden administration’s spying on the Trump campaign, or to releasing his report to the public. He also refused to call Antifa’s attacks on federal buildings domestic terrorism and evaded questions about how he would enforce immigration policy, amongst many other things.

The Daily Caller even compiled a supercut of Garland repeatedly claiming he doesn’t know enough about various issues or situations.

Is he really so ill-informed or just being evasive? Unlike a Supreme Court hearing, where Garland could refuse to answer questions that could hint at how he might rule on potential cases before the court, Garland had an obligation to be forthcoming about the various issues he was asked about. Instead, he proved that he’s not a law-and-order centrist, but a partisan lackey who will bend to the Biden agenda—not the rule of law. And like every other “moderate” or “centrist” nominated to the Supreme Court before him, he would have been a reliably liberal vote on the court.

I don’t know what will happen with Garland’s confirmation for attorney general, but in light of what we’ve seen during these hearings, it’s obvious we dodged a bullet in 2016 when Mitch McConnell refused to give him a hearing. McConnell may be persona non grata to Trump supporters at the moment, but we ought to recognize that if not for him, Garland, not Gorsuch, would likely be serving a life term on our nation’s highest court right now.

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Matt Margolis is the author of Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter, GabFacebookMeWeHeroesRumble, and CloutHub.

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