The One Thing About Merrick Garland That's Shrouded In Mystery Can Affect Women Everywhere Hearings

Since Justice Antonin Scalia's unexpected death in February, we've been hearing lots of names thrown around as potential Supreme Court nominees. On Wednesday, the mystery was dissolved as President Obama announced Merrick Garland as his choice. A former federal prosecutor, Garland has served as a D.C. Circuit Court judge since 1997. Though Garland won't take part in the decision on a landmark abortion case currently being decided in the Supreme Court, since he wasn't present at the hearing of arguments, his nomination in conjunction with the case raises the question: What are Garland's views on reproductive rights?

Unfortunately, we don't have much information on that yet. SCOTUSblog reported in 2010 that the court in which Garland has served doesn't tend to see cases on abortion. Most of the cases he saw involved such issues as criminal law, detainees, and environmental law, wrote Tom Goldstein.

Even though we don't know where Garland stands on reproductive rights, advocacy groups have urged the Senate to hold confirmation hearings for Garland. In a statement on Wednesday, the Center for Reproductive Rights said:

Today, President Obama took an important step by nominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justices are responsible for some of the most consequential legal decisions affecting the lives of all Americans, and we strongly urge the Senate to put partisan politics aside and move quickly to fulfill its constitutional duty by immediately holding confirmation hearings.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, explicitly acknowledged that Garland's stance on abortion is unclear, but said that we need confirmation hearings in order to learn what it is:

Judge Garland does not have a public record on reproductive rights and Senate Republicans’ obstruction denies all of us our right to know where this nominee stands on core constitutional questions of women's privacy, dignity, and equality.

On the day of Scalia's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that Senate Republicans would not hold hearings for any of Obama's nominees, arguing that the choice should be made by the next president, though there is no law stating that a president can't make nominations in his final year. McConnell is sticking to his promise, at least so far: minutes after Obama's announcement, McConnell urged his fellow Republican senators not to consider Garland, according to Think Progress.

We don't know Garland's stance on reproductive rights, or several other important issues, and we won't get to so long as Republicans in the Senate obstruct the normal Supreme Court nomination process.