On the Nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

A Marylander, huh?

Dear Senator Cardin,
Is there some distinction in being “a Marylander” that we’re not aware of?I’m assuming there was a reason why you had to say that Merrick Garland was “a Marylander” three times in your essay.

So what makes Judge Garland a Marylander, and why is that important? After all, the man was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Not that it matters. Americans no longer depend on horses to get from one place to another, so we tend to move around the continent quite a bit more than we used to when you went to school. And we’re no longer rooted to the spot where we were born. F0r instance, most Californians weren’t born in California. Heck, millions of Californians weren’t even born in the U.S.

All of which brings us back to Marylanders.

While we’re on the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court, it might be good to remember that Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney was also a Marylander.

Writing the 7–2 majority opinion in the 1857 Dred Scott decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393) Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that negroes (his word), whether free or enslaved, could not possibly be citizens.

That calamitous decision helped plunge the country into the Civil War. (Or the War Between the States, as the Southern women in my life call it.)

Fact is, Marylander Roger Taney co-authored (with James Gillespie Birney) a tract titled Examination of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Case of Strader, Gorman and Armstrong Vs. Christopher Graham, Delivered at Its December Term, 1850: Concluding with an Address to the Free Colored People, Advising Them to Remove to Liberia.

Is it any surprise that Andrew Jackson used to say he wished he’d hung that scoundrelly Marylander Roger Taney when he had the chance? Old Hickory was overreacting, of course, as he did with most things.

All of which has nothing to do with Judge Merrick Garland (who, truth be told, sounded like a fine candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court until you made me wonder about the significance of him being “a Marylander”).

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