Woodward Assures Viewers: Garland Would Be a Liberal Justice, But ‘Is Not Really Partisan’

While discussing President Obama’s appointment of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward emphasized on Fox News Sunday that while Garland would provide a fifth vote for liberals in cases before the Court, but was someone who’s “not really partisan in anyway.”

Prior to his take on Garland, Woodward ruled that there’s hypocrisy in both parties concerning the confirmation of judicial appointees, but sided with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on whether or not the Constitution determines when and how the Senate should confirm judges.

“The Senate majority leader is saying, hey, look, we — and it's the advice and consent provision in the Constitution. We can do it any way we want and he's actually quite right. There is nothing in the Constitution that says you have to do it in a timely fashion and so forth,” Woodward explained.

The longtime reporter shifted his attention to the political debate and pointed out that “the issue is whether you can make the Court a majority liberal body.” As for Garland, Woodward dubbed him “an extraordinary judge” and “exactly the sort of person that should be on the Court.” 

Along with being known as a good listener and “reasonable” person, Woodward tried to assure everyone that Garland “is not really partisan in anyway.” 

Host Chris Wallace immediately pushed back: “But wait a minute. Wait a minute. You know what a lot of people are going to say is when it comes down to a decision and it's 5-4, he'll end up being with the liberal judges as opposed to the conservative justices.”

Woodward briefly admitted the Garland would indeed have that effect on the Court, but he chalked it up to being not a problem since “[t]here will be liberals and conservatives on the Court and if you are going to have some liberals have the sensible — have rational person.” 

“I mean, like lots of people said about Scalia, they didn't agree with him, but he served an important function on the court.  That's the way it works.  You have to be a consensus builder and Garland is somebody like that,” he concluded.

As the Media Research Center’s Scott Whitlock explained in a study published on Thursday morning, the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC labeled Garland a “moderate” or “centrist” nine times versus only a “liberal” twice (with two more mentions of Garland as a “moderate liberal”).

In comparison to when Republican presidents appointed jurists to the Supreme Court, the media has been shown to have been far more favorable and less hostile to appointments from the current President. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from March 20's Fox News Sunday can be found below.

Fox News Sunday
March 20, 2016
9:25 a.m. Eastern

CHRIS WALLACE: Bob, I thought that the White House chief of staff Denis McDonough made some news in our interview here. He went further than the White House has so far in saying that Obama is going to stick by the Garland nomination even into a lame duck, even if, let's say, Hillary Clinton is elected president that he would stick by the Garland nomination. Kind of interesting that he's saying, you know, I’m going to stay by him and if Hillary Clinton, even if she's just been elected president, if they want to confirm my nominee, so be it.  

BOB WOODWARD: I think it’s confusing to people because this is all about politics. This is pure politics on both sides and as you pointed out, hypocrisy on both sides.  

WALLACE: Both sides have argued exactly the opposite side.  

WOODWARD: Exactly and what McConnell, the Senate majority leader is saying, hey, look, we — and it's the advice and consent provision in the Constitution. We can do it any way we want and he's actually quite right. There is nothing in the Constitution that says you have to do it in a timely fashion and so forth. So, this — this — the issue is whether you can make the Court a majority liberal body. Everyone concedes that if Garland goes on the court, you're going to have five votes on the liberal side.  What is interesting and George has pointed this out — I mean, Garland is an extraordinary judge. He is somebody — I did a book years ago on the Supreme Court and tried to follow it since, and he's exactly the sort of person that should be on the Court. He's reasonable. He listens. He is not really partisan in anyway. 

WALLACE: But wait a minute. Wait a minute. You know what a lot of people are going to say is when it comes down to a decision and it's 5-4, he'll end up being with the liberal judges as opposed to the conservative justices.

WOODWARD: He will but, you know, look, step back. There will be liberals and conservatives on the Court and if you are going to have some liberals have the sensible — have rational person. I mean, like lots of people said about Scalia, they didn't agree with him, but he served an important function on the court.  That's the way it works.  You have to be a consensus builder and Garland is somebody like that, but I don't think he's going to make it. I don't think he's going to be confirmed.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center