When President Obama announced on Wednesday that federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland was his pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a lot of people on both sides of the abortion divide struggled to find something in his record to either elate or terrify them.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hears mostly administrative cases, so that was kind of a bust. Without any major cases or public statements to point to, anti-abortion groups responded to the announcement with a vague sense that they oppose Garland because he was an Obama pick, and Obama supports abortion rights. (Which, fair enough.)
But Americans United for Life, the self-described "legal architects of the pro-life movement," found something to rally around: a book party.
In a statement, the group called on the Senate to oppose Garland's nomination, and offered the following reason:
Consider that Judge Garland spoke at a gathering celebrating Linda Greenhouse’s book on Justice Harry Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun. He described the release of the papers of the late Justice Blackmun—the author of one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions, Roe v. Wade—as a “great gift to the country.”
Yes, it's true: on that fateful day in 2005, Garland went to a book party, maybe drank some wine, maybe ate a lil cheese, and offered generic praise for the release of the late justice's private papers.
It's a weak case for obstruction, but Americans United for Life will almost certainly get its wish: Republicans in Congress and each of the party's three remaining presidential candidates have vowed to block Obama's pick, no matter what they make of Garland's social calendar in the early aughts.