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Friday, July 01, 2016

The Garland Network

I have written before in a popular piece--and then in an academic article I am putting the finishing touches on now--about how much of constitutional law can be understood by the fact that there are far fewer conservative lawyers graduating from the top law schools that tend to staff the top positions in the three branches of government.  Smaller networks tend to denser networks with fewer transaction costs, and this produces different dynamics than the larger and hence looser network on the left.

In this context, Merrick Garland is truly an interesting figure on the left of the legal center.  As The Washington Post joked, Garland has been portrayed as "the perfect human being" partly because of his range of his relationships.  He knows and has had the vocal support of law professors, private sector lawyers, governmental lawyers, and public interest lawyers.  Federal judges nominated by Republican Presidents--or at least a few conservative federal judges--tend to be networked in with many different parts of the legal power structure. Federal judges nominated by Democratic Presidents tend not be as networked in--or, rather, more of them tend to be somewhat networked in but not completely networked into the power structure.  My guess would be that a network analysis of judges appointed by Democratic Presidents would find Judge Garland the most connected judge appointed by a Democratic President in my lifetime.

Posted by David Fontana on July 1, 2016 at 03:35 PM | Permalink


I assume all Presidential nominations automatically expire at the end of the Congress that they are made in? So if no action were taken Clinton wouldn't need to withdraw Garland's nomination but rather she'd have to affirmatively re-nominate him if she decided to go that way?

Posted by: Brad | Jul 1, 2016 5:07:45 PM

If Garland's nomination isn't acted upon during the Obama Administration and Clinton wins, what are the odds he will be the next justice?

Personally, I'm rooting against him in that scenario -- Clinton should nominate someone else / Garland removes himself from the running.

Republicans had a chance to get the best pick basically they could hope for and they blocked it. You bet, the (White) House often wins.

[He does seem vary connected. I'm thinking CJ Roberts favored the nomination. In the past, Chief Justices were actually asked for advice in these situations. If he actually was, sure he would endorse Garland.]

Posted by: Joe | Jul 1, 2016 3:49:25 PM

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