It is a curious fact that what occurs in the Supreme Court of the United States affects the private practice of family law in Pinellas County, Florida.  This became clear last year when the court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country.

With the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.  This has caused both politicians and political pundits to percolate.  Republican senators have refused to hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination.  “Garland, now chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington . . . has deftly navigated the capital’s high-powered legal circles for decades.1

From his days in high school, Garland has accumulated friends and seemingly made few enemies.  Yet, even someone with the résumé of Merrick Garland has difficulty in the current political climate of Washington.

During Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmation proceedings, he uttered the following famous/infamous lines:

Judges are like umpires.  Umpires don’t make rules, they apply them.  The role of an umpire and a judge is critical.  They make sure everybody plays by the rules.  But it is a limited role.  No one ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire . . . I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.2 

One could argue that Justice Roberts has done more than call balls and strikes.  The Supreme Court has had the final word on certain politically volatile issues.   It might be remembered that Justice Roberts served as the swing vote in the 5-4 ruling that upheld President Obama’s healthcare law.  We also remember the Supreme Court’s role in partisan politics in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision.  Therefore, the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is no small matter.

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney

1 March 27, 2016. “Garland is a deft navigator of capital legal circles” New York Times in the Tampa Bay Times.

2 Cilliza, C. June 28, 2012. “John Roberts:  umpire” The Washington Post.