Conservative groups are focusing on Judge Merrick Garland’s record on gun control, which will take center stage in the acrimonious debate over President Obama’s newest nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative-leaning group that will help lead the opposition to Garland’s nomination, is taking aim at Garland’s skepticism of a decision to overturn Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban nearly 10 years ago.
Garland voted in 2007 as a member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear a decision by a three-judge panel of the circuit court that struck down the handgun ban. He voted with three other judges on the circuit to rehear the case en banc, or as a full panel. The court, however, declined to do so. by a 6-to-4 vote.
The Judicial Crisis Network is also criticizing Garland for voting in another instance to uphold a Clinton-era regulation that empowered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to set up a short-term gun registry to conduct background checks.
The Judicial Crisis Network says that ruling violated a 1968 congressional prohibition on setting up a gun registry.
“Garland thought all of these regulations were legal, which tells us two things. First, it tells us that he has a very liberal view of gun rights, since he apparently wanted to undo a key court victory protecting them. Second, it tells us that he’s willing to uphold executive actions that violate the rights of gun owners,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, wrote in an op-ed for the National Review.
Media Matters, a left-leaning advocacy group, however, argued in a memo that “multiple courts” reviewed the regulation and never found it illegal.
The group noted that the Supreme Court declined in 2001 to review the D.C. Circuit’s ruling affirming that the FBI lawfully retained the data of gun owners through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to conduct audits.