Merrick Garland on Civil Rights



Spotty record on supporting LGBT protests and free speech

Garland's history with the LGBT community is not extensive but it is spotty. Garland joined a decision that upheld an FCC action against the operator of a low-power radio broadcaster serving the gay community. And he joined then D.C. Circuit Judge John Roberts Jr. in a decision rejecting police liability for misconduct by officers who sprayed a chemical deterrent on members of a pro-gay protest group during President George W. Bush's first inaugural parade.

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is legal in all 50 states under the Fourteenth Amendment. The 5-4 ruling just before many Pride Parade weekends were about to kick off, most notably in New York City. The ruling overrode bans in 13 states against gay marriage, enforcing the law of equal rights all across the United States. The Supreme Court justices found that under the 14th Amendment, all states must recognize same-sex couples and allow same-sex unions.

Source: Heavy.com on 2016 SCOTUS confirmation hearings , Mar 16, 2016

Let civil rights plaintiffs receive appropriate day in Court

Judge Garland has not been called upon to decide many civil-rights-related claims of great significance. It is difficult to label him as inclined either towards or against such claims, given that the panels on which he sat in such cases were generally unanimous.

The unanimous rulings in which Judge Garland participated similarly reflect a concern that civil rights plaintiffs receive an appropriate day in Court. E.g., Steele v. Schafer (2008, per Garland, reinstating hostile work environment and retaliation claims); Harris v. Gonzales (2007, Garland joining opinion, reversing judgment that employee could not establish lack of notice of filing deadline for civil rights suit).

Judge Garland also authored an opinion narrowly reading states' sovereign immunity from suit under the civil rights laws (Barbour v. WMATA, 2004, joined by then-Judge John Roberts, holding that WMATA waived sovereign immunity from suit by accepting funds under Rehabilitation Act).

Source: SCOTUSblog.com on 2016 SCOTUS confirmation hearings , Apr 26, 2010

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Other Justices on Civil Rights: Merrick Garland on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(since 1993)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Anthony Kennedy(since 1988)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Feb 01, 2020