Judge Garland is bad news for small business

Charles Owens

There was a time when Supreme Court decisions were more about the larger things in governance and less about the day-to-day challenges facing the average citizen.

Unfortunately, with the growth in government at all levels those days are long gone and it seems that the High Court has been more involved in the micromanagement of the mundane decisions that affect how we use our land, what insurance we have to buy, what pay and benefits a business has to provide, and on and on.

It has been argued that these are issues that our Constitution intended the legislative branch to resolve, not the High Court. However, advocates of various causes have discovered that it is easier to get an agenda through nine unelected judges than it is to get a bill passed by both houses of Congress and signed by a president.

The recent nomination of D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court does not bode well for the nation’s small business owners who are also growing weary of the expanding judicial micromanagement of our economy.

A cursory examination of Judge Garland’s record points to a judge who nearly always sides with regulators, labor unions and trial lawyers at the expense of small businesses. Small business has been under heavy pressure from bureaucrats and regulators that have expanded their power over the private sector.

And so, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has announced that for the first time in its 73 year history it will be actively involved in the vetting of the next Supreme Court nominee and be prepared to oppose or support confirmation based on the nominee’s record. NFIB has already indicated that it will oppose the nomination of Judge Garland.

Juanita Duggan, who this month took the reins of the organization as president and CEO, said the next justice will very likely determine the outcome of several cases in which NFIB is a plaintiff and which could radically expand government’s control over the economy and small business. “The stakes are far too high for small businesses to watch this process from the sidelines,” Duggan said.

The NFIB will now carefully examine all High Court nominees. The candidate’s judicial record, if one exists, will be reviewed with a focus on decisions involving regulations and their enormous cost to small businesses. So too will be the candidate’s public statements on business, labor issues, property rights or any other topic that might indicate his or her disposition.

America’s small business job providers, and all citizens who are concerned about activist courts rewriting the law to suit an agenda, deserve no less from the Senate as it exercises its advice and consent duties.

Charles Owens is the Michigan state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.