Editorials and Opinion
Moran endorses former Kansan for key court (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 05/20/13)
Rhonda Holman ,WE Blog The Wichita Eagle’s Editorial Department Blog: "Good for Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., for helping break the long political stalemate over the four vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by announcing his support Wednesday for President Obama’s nomination of Sri Srinivasan (in photo), who grew up in Lawrence and currently is principal deputy solicitor general."
Barnett: The real scandal: Political gridlock (News and Observer [NC] , 05/18/13)
Editorial page editor Ned Barnett: "The obstructionism has been relentless. Senate Republicans have used the threat of filibuster to hold up nominees for federal judgeships and key administration posts. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that 85 federal judgeships are vacant. That’s 10 percent of the judiciary not functioning at a time when caseloads show the need for adding even more judicial posts. Some nominees have been waiting nearly 700 days. Another gave up after waiting two and a half years."
Federal confirmation backlog; World-Herald editorial: Federal jobs should be filled (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 05/18/13)
"Our political system in Washington is once again falling down on the job. This time, it’s the failure to fill top federal positions in a timely fashion.... Senate game-playing. Senators can place anonymous holds on appointments and insist that nominees be bombarded with an unmanageable volume of questions ... Inefficiency, partisan warfare and delay are not virtues, and the White House and Senate need to move beyond the political warring to make progress on the confirmation process. ... Restrict the use of senatorial holds on nominations ... And, above all, end the partisan squabbling that’s paralyzing the confirmation process."
Editorial: Revive filibuster reform; U.S. Senate is a broken institution; it’s time to fix it (Register Guard [OR] , 05/18/13)
"Faced with a confirmation process that Republicans routinely hijack and the blockage of major legislation, the Nevada Democrat is once again considering a rule change that would limit the filibuster of nominees and legislation.... ilibusters have become dismayingly routine business in the Senate, and Republicans show no sign of retreating from their default strategy of obstructionism."
EDITORIAL: Climate Warnings, Growing Louder (New York Times, 05/18/13)
"Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have spent the last two weeks trying to derail Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency — a moderate named Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy has served two Republican governors (Mitt Romney was one) but is considered suspect by the right wing because she wants to control carbon pollution, which is driving global temperatures upward."
Obama Says ‘Check’ to GOP in Confirmation Chess Match (Roll Call, 05/17/13)
David Hawkings column: "Srinivasan is about to become the first federal appeals judge of South Asian heritage and, at 46, the youngest judge on the D.C. Circuit. Of more consequence, he’ll be the first newcomer to that court in seven years. Since 2006, the number of vacant seats has grown to four. Of the seven full-timers on the bench, four were nominated by Republicans and three by Democrats, so Srinivasan will make it an even split.
That simple math helps explain why all those seats have stayed vacant since long before the election — and why that situation is about to change, although only a little bit. ...a roster of three D.C. Circuit choices to be nominated in coming weeks as a slate — challenging the Senate, in effect, to embrace at least one of them because surely they can’t all be activist leftists.
The Republicans know this is coming and have their counter-programming planned out: There’s no need to seat anyone else, they’ll insist, because the court’s caseload is not big enough to justify the eight judges on the job.
The Srinivasan confirmation will shift the judicial wars into something more like a chess match."
Here comes the filibuster battle (Washington Post, 05/17/13)
Jonathan Bernstein: "Harry Reid is planning to devote July to nominations and will “go nuclear” if necessary — using majority-imposed reform to end the ability of minorities to block executive branch and judicial nominations. This is exactly the right path for Reid, the Senate majority leader, to take. ... For most Democratic senators, the preferred solution is almost certainly Republican retreat to more traditional opposition, in which filibusters were used very selectively against a handful of nominees, and other forms of obstruction (the kind that delay, not kill, nominations) were also used selectively. Republicans ... forcing every nominee to get 60 votes for permission to take a final vote, and most (but not all) Republicans are voting against allowing a final confirmation vote on every nominee they oppose. They’re also blocking some positions — the National Labor Relations Board, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, possibly one or more seats on the DC Circuit Court — by refusing to allow final votes on any nominee ... The other part of this is that the threat of including judicial nominations in reform should get Republicans’ attention. ... losing the ability to block judicial nominations, especially at the appeals level, would be a significant loss for the minority party."
Time for Some Nominations. A Lot of Nominations (A plain blog about politics, 05/17/13)
Jonathan Bernstein: "If Harry Reid is willing to spend serious floor time on nominations, he needs more nominees. Lots more nominees. In particular, he really needs those three DC Circuit Court selections ... in the last couple of weeks the White House really has been starting to roll out more judicial picks -- one circuit court selection and three district court selections yesterday, on top of a few last week. That's good! But there's a lot more to go."
Heller’s Obstructionism On Full Display (Desert Beacon blog [NV], 05/17/13)
"Perhaps the most under-reported scandalous behavior in Washington, D.C. is the continual obstruction of Presidential nominations to fill vacancies in administrative and judicial posts, and Nevada junior Senator Dean Heller has been right in the middle of it.
First, he opposed the nomination of Elissa Cadish, refusing to sign the paperwork necessary for her candidacy as a judicial nominee to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he was miffed by her position on guns. Now, he’s opposing the nomination of Jennifer Dorsey because her previous law firm made a major donation to the PAC associated with Senator Harry Reid."
President Obama Nominates Four Distinguished Women to Serve as Federal Judges (The White House, 05/17/13)
White House blog by Chris Kang, Senior Counsel to the President: " If confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Judge Carolyn McHugh would be the first woman from Utah to serve on that court. Currently, the Tenth Circuit only has one woman judge serving among its nine active members.
· Pamela Reeves and Elizabeth Wolford would be the first women to serve as district court judges in the Eastern District of Tennessee and Western District of New York, respectively, if confirmed.
· Debra Brown would be the first African-American district court judge to serve in the Northern District of Mississippi and the first African-American woman to serve as an Article III judge in the entire state of Mississippi, if confirmed.
President Obama’s judicial nominees already have broken the gender barrier in circuit courts in six states, as well as nine district courts, and have shattered dozens of glass ceilings for minorities. ... for the first time, President Obama has nominated more district court judges than President George W. Bush had at the same point in his presidency. While a faster pace of judicial retirements has led to a greater number of vacancies—many still without nominees—this record demonstrates the strength of the President’s commitment to addressing the judicial vacancy crisis in our country. He will continue to work with home state Senators from both parties to identify and consider candidates for the federal judiciary. We urge the Senate to consider yesterday’s nominees—and all judicial nominees—without unnecessary delay."
White House Press Secretary on need to fill four D.C. Circuit Vacancies (The White House, 05/16/13)
"The D.C. Circuit is often considered the nation’s second-highest court, but it has twice as many vacancies as any other court of appeals, and its workload has increased by over 20 percent since 2005," Carney said. "Srinivasan’s confirmation will be an important first step to filling this court’s four vacancies, and the full Senate should act without unnecessary delay."
Obama needs a fresh approach to naming judges (Politico, 05/15/13)
David Fontana: "Obama’s judicial nominees have waited three times longer on the floor of the Senate than did those of President George W. Bush.
These issues are crucially important, to be sure. But all of this attention on delays in nominations and obstructions after nominations largely ignores what happens in the Senate before a nomination, when much of the groundwork is laid for determining whom the president can nominate and how the Senate will treat his nominees. Senators from the state where judicial openings arise play a large role in indicating to the president which potential nominees they would support. Sometimes these senators do not even get around to suggesting names to the president."
Cornyn should shoulder blame for judicial vacancies (Fort Worth Star-Telegram [TX], 05/15/13)
Judith E. Schaeffer: Sen. "Cornyn’s efforts to shift the blame to the administration for the lack of judicial nominees and portray the judicial nominations process as operating by some sort of unilateral White House fiat is belied by the Republican senators’ 2009 letter.
If Obama were to nominate people to fill the vacancies on the federal courts in Texas without input from or the approval of the Texas senators, those nominees would go nowhere, and Cornyn knows it."
Why Just Fixing The Filibuster Is Not Enough To Unbreak The Senate (Think Progress, 05/14/13)
Ian Millhiser: "The Senate’s filibuster rules gave the minority party power to shut down all judicial confirmations for much of 2012, ... Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) unilaterally blocked Judge Elissa Cadish’s nomination to a federal judgeship last March by invoking a Judiciary Committee procedure that allows just one senator to block a judicial nominee so long as that nominee is from their home state. Heller objected to the fact that Cadish accurately described the state of Second Amendment law prior to a Supreme Court decision that made the law more favorable to the NRA’s views. So, while filibuster reform is essential in the wake of unprecedented obstruction of cabinet-level nominees and similar tactics, it is not sufficient in and of itself. The Senate’s rules and the rules governing its various committees are pervasively broken, and require a complete overhaul to prevent future obstruction."
Judicial Vacancies Typify Capital Dysfunction (Wall Street Journal, 05/13/13)
Gerald F. Seib, Capital Journal: "Jill Pryor of Georgia and Rosemary Marquez of Arizona aren't exactly household names, but they share a distinction with national importance: Both have been waiting exactly 689 days for the Senate to act on their nominations to become federal judges.
Yet they aren't even the most extreme examples of Washington's inability to perform one of its most basic functions, filling the federal judiciary across the land. All told, 85 federal judgeships sit vacant, meaning some 10% of the federal judiciary is empty—and this at a time when those who run the court system think there actually should be new judicial posts created because of an escalating workload.
Openings on two of the nation's most important federal appeals courts—the Ninth Circuit in the West and the D.C. Circuit in Washington—have been unfilled since 2005.... the lion's share of the blame lies with the Senate, a body that's becoming an embarrassment to itself and that increasingly infects the rest of government with its paralysis.... judges still aren't being confirmed fast enough to keep up with the rate of attrition as older judges retire."
Grassley aims for GOP political spin on federal judiciary (Reuters, 05/10/13)
Doug Kendall: "the D.C. Circuit’s stunning decision this week to strike down a National Labor Relations Board rule requiring employers to post signs reminding workers of their right to organize, is a clear indication of why this D.C. court has become an ideological battleground.... Republicans manufactured a controversy over Caitlin Halligan, President Barack Obama’s well-qualified nominee to the D.C. Circuit, and then torpedoed her confirmation through a partisan filibuster. Then the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by its ranking member, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), took a startling step: They introduced legislation that would eliminate three of the 11 judicial seats on the D.C. Circuit .... If Grassley were serious about his Orwellian-named “Court Efficiency Act,” he would not have ignored recent recommendations from the Judicial Conference,"
Packing the Courts ‘The Federalist Society,’ by Michael Avery and Danielle McLaughlin (New York Times, 05/10/13)
Jeffrey Rosen book review: "“every single federal judge” appointed by the two Presidents Bush “was either a member or approved by members of the society,” including four Supreme Court justices: Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. ... Far more than Presidents Obama and Clinton, Presidents Reagan and both Bushes cared intensely about the selection of judges. Brett M. Kavanaugh, now a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said that George W. Bush “devoted more attention to the issue of judges than any other president.” Like his Republican predecessors, he promoted well-known legal academics who had been allies, and advisers, of the Federalist Society, ... if liberals want to take the courts back from conservatives, they have to recognize that ideas — and judicial appointments — matter."
How to Stop Government (New York Times, 05/10/13)
ANDREW ROSENTHAL, editorial page editor: "Filibuster Abuse: The practice of halting Senate deliberation is an old one, practiced by both parties, but the current Republican caucus has taken it to new heights. They have filibustered an unprecedented number of President Obama’s nominees. The District Court for Washington, D.C., perhaps the most important appeals court in the land, has four of its 11 seats vacant. The last time the Senate confirmed a judge was in 2006. The Republicans have filibustered all of Mr. Obama’s nominees because Republicans simply don’t want him to appoint any judges to a currently conservative court, which rules on appeals involving federal regulatory agencies, and which has exclusive jurisdiction over national security matters."
John Cornyn Complains About Judicial Nomination Process He's Blocking (Huffington Post, 05/10/13)
Jennifer Bendery: "Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) ranted Thursday that President Barack Obama hasn't put forward judicial nominees for vacancies in Texas, some open and without a nominee for more than 1,000 days. But he got schooled by his Democratic colleagues, who reminded him he's responsible for recommending nominees to the White House in the first place -- something he hasn't done for years."
How Vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court Are Swaying Policy in America: The court's judges are obstructing appointments to a key regulatory body. But since the Senate won't confirm Obama's own judicial picks, the appointments will stay stuck. (Atlantic, 05/10/13)
Garrett Epps: "the D.C. Circuit ought to be called the Filibuster of Appeals... If the four empty judgeships were filled, the lineup of active judges would be seven Democratic nominees to four Republican ones. The odds would have been a lot better of a different decision, or at least of a dissent. Since a majority vote of the active judges can vacate a panel decision, there would have been a chance of reconsideration by the full court sitting "en banc."... The Republican attitude toward the D.C. Circuit, however, is suggested by a bill proposed by Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on Judiciary. At Srinavasan's confirmation hearing, Grassley announced he was introducing a Court Efficiency Act that would abolish the three remaining vacancies on the Circuit. Franklin Roosevelt's court-packing plan was named the Judicial Procedures Reform Act of 1937; like that proposal, Grassley's is a sign that the fight over the courts is really a bare-knuckle political brawl."
EDITORIAL: The N.L.R.B.’s Contested Poster (New York Times, 05/09/13)
"The appeals court ruling is a reminder of why the court is sometimes known as the graveyard of federal regulation — and why it is good news that Sri Srinivasan, President Obama’s current nominee for the court, has a good chance to be confirmed by the Senate, with strong support from conservative as well as liberal lawyers. The court has four vacancies, out of 11 seats. Republican obstructionism has blocked new appointments during the Obama administration. A decision on a subject as politically charged as this one shows why it is important to have balance on the court."
No Right to Know Your Rights (New York Times, 05/09/13)
Editorial Page Editor's blog by Teresa Tritch: "a federal appeals court ruled for business, saying that to punish an employer for failing to post a notice would violate the employer’s free speech rights.
Let’s hope business doesn’t take a dislike to clearly marked exits.
The fact is, notices are required for all manner of laws, in the workplace and elsewhere, and are entirely justified as long as they are reasonably related to the law, as is clearly the case with the N.L.R.A. rule.... It is no coincidence that the rule was struck down by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Four of the court’s 11 seats are empty and no new judges have been confirmed since 2006, leaving the court with a marked pro-business, deregulatory bias at a time when Senate Republicans have delayed and blocked President Obama’s judicial nominees."
A Senate Republican Goal: Keep the D.C. Circuit Business Friendly (American Constitution Society Blog, 05/08/13)
Jeremy Leaming: "the D.C. Circuit has been controlled by conservative judges. There are four vacancies on the bench ... The D.C. Circuit has also proven hostile to environmental regulations that are often challenged by corporations."
No, the Creation of the 60 Vote Senate Isn't Harry Reid's Fault (A plain blog about politics, 05/08/13)
Jonathan Bernstein: "if it was true that filibusters were only a reaction to "filling the tree" then it would be happening on legislation only. Nominations do not have amendments! And yet almost every nomination, beginning in January 2009, has been subjected to that same 60 vote requirement -- something entirely new at that point."
How little-known judges could thwart Obama’s climate plans (Grist Magazine, 05/08/13)
Doug Kendall and Simon Lazarus: "there has been a concerted effort by conservatives to dominate the federal bench, and this bench in particular....Republicans have already led a successful filibuster against Caitlin Halligan, a highly qualified D.C. Circuit nominee who ultimately withdrew her nomination after more than two years of obstruction. Now they have introduced a bill to reduce the number of seats on the D.C. Circuit from 11 to eight in a nakedly partisan attempt to maintain conservative dominance over the makeup of the court.... It is time for the environmental movement to involve itself more in the conversation about nominations."
How Asian Americans became a key White House constituency (Washington Post, 05/08/13)
Juliet Eilperin: "Asian Americans have made major gains under the Obama administration. The president has doubled the number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on the federal bench, from 8 to 19, which represents 7 percent of his confirmed judges. By contrast, this group made up just 1 percent of judges nominated by President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, whose nomination is pending before the Senate, is the first South Asian American to be nominated to the federal circuit."
The Insiders: Some whiskey-talk suggestions for Obama and McConnell (Washington Post, 05/07/13)
Ed Rogers: "The whole process needs to be accelerated, which means the minority party — which is currently the Republican Party in the Senate — should agree to adhere to a tight schedule to vote on the president’s nominees, regardless of which party holds the White House. And the Senate needs to abolish the blatantly unconstitutional process of the anonymous hold on nominations. It’s insulting to taxpayers that one senator can, because of a grudge or on a whim, block the entire Senate from voting on a nomination....If senators want the power to handpick nominees, they should run for president. Otherwise, they should ensure nominees are qualified and not conflicted, and then vote their conscience. Above all, they should — wait for it — actually vote.... With these three modest reforms, Obama and McConnell could set the stage for Washington to fulfill two of the most basic responsibilities of our government: Confirming senior administration officials and judges ..."
11th Circuit (Southern District of Florida Blog, 05/07/13)
David Oscar Markus: “there are still two openings on the 11th Circuit and apparently no progress being made in moving those nominations forward.”