Judicial Crisis Network Releases New False Attack On Merrick Garland's Judicial Record On Guns

New “topline points” released by the discredited right-wing Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) falsely claim that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland voted “to uphold D.C.'s very restrictive gun restrictions.”

This is absolutely false; Garland never issued or joined the ruling on the legal challenge to D.C.'s now-overturned handgun ban. JCN's new “topline points” represent a further twist of JCN's previous distortions of Merrick's judicial record on gun cases.

JCN has promised to spend millions of dollars opposing Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, and spent the weeks leading up to the announcement launching smears against potential nominees. While JCN now seeks to obstruct Obama's pick, during the George W. Bush administration the group was known as the Judicial Confirmation Network, and called for an up or down vote for all of Bush's nominees.

Shortly after Obama's announcement on March 16, JCN released “topline points” that claimed Garland has “demonstrated a remarkable level of hostility toward the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” including by “voting to uphold D.C.'s very restrictive gun restrictions.”

JCN's latest attack completely botches Garland's judicial record.

In a 2007 decision, the D.C. Circuit -- where Garland is chief judge -- issued a ruling in a case called Parker v. District of Columbia that challenged the constitutionality of Washington's ban on private handgun ownership. In the 2-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower court's decision finding D.C.'s ban to be constitutional. Justice Laurence Silberman wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justice Thomas B. Griffith in finding D.C.'s gun law violated the Second Amendment. Justice Karen L. Henderson dissented.

Garland did not participate in the decision.

JCN's false “topline points” relate to a different decision by the D.C. Circuit on whether to rehear the case en banc, a procedure where the full court can reconsider the case and decide differently. In a 6-4 vote, the court declined to rehear the case en banc. Garland was one of four justices who voted to rehear.

It is factually inaccurate to characterize Garland's vote to rehear the case as a vote “to uphold D.C.'s very restrictive gun restrictions.”

Voting to rehear a case does not mean that a judge is committing to deciding it one way or the other and it certainly does not reveal their constitutional thinking or ideology. In fact, Garland was joined in his vote to rehear the case en banc by the very conservative Judge A. Raymond Randolph.

Randolph was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and has been described as “one of the most outspoken and agenda-driven conservatives on the entire federal bench.” JCN previously promoted an event conducted by Randolph honoring ultraconservative jurist Robert Bork.

It seems unlikely that the group would issue a press release claiming Randolph's vote to rehear Parker en banc means he voted “to uphold D.C.'s very restrictive gun restrictions” if Randolph were ever to be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Unlikely, because that's flat-out wrong.