EDITORIAL: Lawsuit shows Merrick Garland is no moderate

Consumer advocates might characterize it as “misleading advertising” or perhaps as “bait and switch.”

Upon nomination by President Biden to be attorney general, then-federal Judge Merrick Garland — long touted as a “moderate” — pledged to depoliticize the Justice Department.

But in one of his first major actions as the country’s new top law enforcement officer, Mr. Garland on June 25 abruptly tossed that “campaign promise” aside, filing a Democrat-inspired lawsuit in federal court against the state of Georgia, aiming to invalidate the Republican-run state’s new election-reform law.

With that “bait and switch,” the 20 Senate Republicans who voted to confirm Mr. Garland as attorney general might now be experiencing the political equivalent of “buyer’s remorse.” The 20 included Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who as Senate majority leader in 2016 orchestrated the Senate maneuver to deny Mr. Garland the Supreme Court seat he was nominated for by President Obama.

If anyone doubted the partisan political motivation behind Mr. Garland’s baseless lawsuit against Georgia, consider that he had announced two weeks earlier that the Justice Department would scrutinize new laws in Republican-controlled states that tightened voting rules.

Even more tellingly, he waited until after Senate Democrats’ rabidly partisan federal election-takeover scheme, S.1, was thwarted by a Senate GOP filibuster on June 22.

The grotesquely misnamed For the People Act — which the mainstream media deliberately misrepresented as just an innocuous “voting rights bill” — is another example of false advertising. Had it passed, it effectively would have pre-empted the Georgia lawsuit because S.1 would gut virtually all election-security safeguards, not only in Georgia but nationwide.

Among many other provisions, the 800-plus-page For the People Act would have invalidated most voter-ID requirements in the three dozen states that have them; barred states from purging ineligible voters from the rolls; vastly expanded ballot harvesting and absentee and mail-in voting; and imposed fraud-prone same-day voter registration nationwide.

S.1 was nakedly intended to guarantee Democratic Party dominance in perpetuity. It wasn’t for nothing that Senate Republicans dubbed it the Corrupt Politicians Act.

Mr. Garland’s lawsuit is without merit, inasmuch as a comparison of Georgia’s election laws against those in, for example, Mr. Biden’s home state of Delaware would show the former’s to be far more “liberal” and voter-friendly. 

Still, he has yet to sue Delaware.

Mr. Garland’s suit is a threat to states’ rights — not only in Georgia, but in any other state that supports election reforms that make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat. S.1 does the exact opposite, yet, if Mr. Garland has raised any objections to that bill, we didn’t hear it.

State attorneys general around the country should file amicus briefs on Georgia’s behalf — and not just states with Republican AGs. The pushback should be bipartisan.

And if the Georgia lawsuit is any indication of Mr. Garland’s judicial philosophy, Mr. McConnell did the American people a favor by keeping him off the Supreme Court.

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