Edwin Meese, who served as attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, is warning of potentially far-reaching consequences if the U.S. Senate confirms Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Probably no president in modern history has trashed the Constitution by executive actions as this president,” Mr. Meese said in an interview with reporter Ginny Simone. “And so to allow Obama, in his last year in office, to put another judge on the court, in other words to pack the court with people who don’t believe in the Constitution and who would not follow the Constitution, I think would be wrong for the Constitution and wrong for the country.”
Conservatives have cited Judge Garland’s decision-making in a case that led to the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision affirming the constitutional right to bear arms and another case involving the retention of records in a national background check database during the Clinton administration as evidence that he would not be a pro-Second Amendment justice.
“This particular appointment means that it could turn a majority of the court over to people who don’t believe in a fundamental and faithful interpretation of the Constitution,” Mr. Meese said.
Senate Republicans have said they will not hold hearings or a vote on Judge Garland’s nomination in an election year, and Mr. Meese said there’s nothing in the Constitution that requires them to do so. Republicans say the American people should have a say in who fills the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia through the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Meese said he was “privileged” to participate in advising Reagan when the former president nominated Scalia for the Supreme Court in 1986.
“Justice Scalia was probably, of all the justices in history, one of the most faithful supporters of the Constitution as it was actually written,” the former attorney general said.
“When we have a constitutional crisis, I think anyone who sits out the election really is failing in their duty as a citizen to vote for a president who will preserve the constitutional republic that the founders gave us and protect the Constitution, which has made America different from any other country in the world,” Mr. Meese said.