The press narrative is shaping up already: if Obama picks this guy, it’s because he didn’t want a fight. Consider this language from the Post: “a favorite of the Washington legal establishment, widely praised by lawyers and other judges for his well-reasoned and generally moderate opinions.” Or this from Reuters: “a judicial moderate, known for writing thorough, well-reasoned opinions.” Or this from the Times: “well regarded by Democrats and influential Republican senators like Orrin G. Hatch of Utah.” This is how Yahoo’s Lehmann sums up the “potential controversies” surrounding Garland:
Garland is the most moderate member of this early trio of possible nominees. He has won praise from his former Clinton Justice Department colleague Jamie Gorelick as “the Democratic John Roberts” — that is to say, a pragmatic legal thinker focused on building consensus rather than stoking ideological battles. His rulings do not lean one way or another on abortion rights, and he has induced a conservative majority on the D.C. federal appeals court to join his ruling permitting a controversial lawsuit from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay to proceed. Garland would likely yield a number of Senate GOP votes early on — an important consideration for Obama if he wants to avoid a potential filibuster.
So, not so controversial. But the Journal’s coverage—which also cites Jamie Gorelick—makes the case that that low-key nature has helped Garland become an effective jurist, and one who’s willing to provide checks on executive overreach. In that Guantanamo case, which involved seventeen Chinese Muslims being held at the prison, he served on a three-judge panel that rejected unsubstantiated government claims linking the Uighurs to terrorism. “This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” he wrote for the panel.
Fun Fact: As a federal prosecutor, Garland supervised the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski.