Editorials and Opinion
GOP senators should do their job and vote on Garland (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 06/27/18)
Opinion by Jason Rae: "Even more troubling and confusing is the ongoing refusal of Senate Republicans to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and his Republican colleagues refuse to do the basic function of their job as outlined in the Constitution and hold a hearing for President Barack Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland.... The Senate never has taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor after a nomination. It's now been 100 days. It's time for Johnson Senate Republicans to stop this unprecedented obstruction and give Garland a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote."
NEW NEBRASKA JUDGE BOB ROSSITER CONFIRMED (PAPERWORK TO FOLLOW) (Mimesis Law, 06/29/16)
Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska): "I have written before at Fault Lines about what a wonderful federal district judge Bob Rossiter would be for the District of Nebraska. On Monday, June 27, 2016, at about 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time, Bob was confirmed 90 to 0 by the Senate.... he only had to wait more than a year to have his entirely non-controversial nomination voted upon by a roll call on the Senate floor. By that time, our court faced a “judicial emergency” because we were without one-third of our judge-power for over 18 months.
In fact, nearly three years have passed since Judge Joe Bataillon told the world he intended to take senior status. Still further, Bob had to wait for nearly two year before his floor vote, even though both Nebraska Senators had recommended Bob to President Obama in August of 2014.
Time passes slowly when you are in prison or considered for the position of a federal district judge."
Letter: Let our votes count by holding Garland hearings (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 06/29/16)
Charles Swift: "In a recent Tribune article, we learned that a poll indicates a clear majority of Utahns want hearings for Supreme court nominee Merrick Garland. The article also talked about a recent study finding "that in every one of the 103 earlier Supreme Court vacancies, the president nominated a replacement and the Senate held hearings."
"You cannot find a single precedent for the position of Republican senators," Professor Jason Mazzone, a law professor and one of the study's co-authors, said. "You cannot simply find a historical perspective for that."
The fact is, there have been Supreme Court nominees who have been confirmed by the Senate during election years. It's been done before and can be done again. And yet, the Republican senators, including Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, continue with their obstructionism.... the Constitution does not give them the authority to say the next president has the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices and this president does not."
Editorial: Congress, court need to move past gridlock (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 06/29/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has now joined the U.S. Congress in gridlock.
In a 4-4 split last week, the court was unable to decide whether President Barack Obama’s immigration plan and actions were legal....Of course, the court is deadlocked because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. That left the court with only eight justices and with the possibility of tie votes.
And when Republicans in Congress failed to even consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia, the country was guaranteed that the court will be unable to decide some key issues.
Garland would not have taken the Supreme Court seat in time to weigh in on the immigration case even if the Senate had confirmed his appointment. However, there’s no telling how long it will take to fill the seat since Republican senators have insisted that it wait until after the November election. Cases heard in October, November, December, January, February and onward may even still be in jeopardy of tie votes.
The real issue is the gridlock in Congress. Anger with Washington has spilled over to the polls this election year."
Live Wire: Sen. Burr blocking judge from bench (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 06/29/16)
"Q: I was reading that Judge Patricia Timmons-Goodson has been nominated for a federal judgeship and Sen. Richard Burr is going to block her. Why would Sen. Burr block such a good person? I know this woman and her family, and she is a very good person, and she has been a good judge for years. - B.R., Fayetteville
A: President Obama nominated Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville for a federal judgeship in April. Praise for her isn't just from B.R.
Cumberland County commissioners voted unanimously in May to support her nomination.... She became the first black woman to serve on the N.C. Supreme Court.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat who represents many counties in the Eastern District, has said, "Her character and reputation are beyond reproach."... Burr, a Republican, has said he won't allow Timmons- Goodson to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.... - Steve DeVane
Editorial, 6/29 (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/29/16)
"Dysfunction pervades the nation’s capital. ... Senate Republicans continue to refuse to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.
On an issue close to home the Senate this week finally confirmed Omaha attorney Robert Rossiter Jr. as a federal judge for Nebraska. The position had been vacant since October, 2014, with a workload in the district so heavy that it was classified as “judicial emergency.” There was nothing controversial about Rossiter’s nomination. Nonetheless it took the Senate a year to act once President Barack Obama nominated him."
World-Herald editorial: Rossiter confirmation shows things can get done in Congress (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 06/29/16)
"The commendable work by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer on Robert Rossiter Jr.’s judicial nomination shows that it’s possible to get things done in Washington through effective leadership. The Senate voted 90-0 Monday to approve the nomination of Rossiter, an Omaha attorney, as Nebraska’s next federal judge.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, stated that “only because of the efforts of Sen. Fischer is Mr. Rossiter’s nomination receiving a vote today.”... As reporting by The World-Herald’s Joseph Morton explained, the vote on Rossiter’s nomination is a rarity at a time when the Senate is otherwise stalemated on such votes. Some 25 judicial nominations are still “languishing on the Senate floor” due to the gridlock, Leahy said."
EDITORIAL: High court can't do its job when the Senate punts on court nominees (Savannah Morning News [GA] , 06/28/16)
"Last week’s 4-4 tie on the U.S. Supreme Court over President Obama’s immigration policy underscores at least three things. It shows again that the U.S. Senate is hamstringing the high court by refusing to consider Obama’s nominee to the vacancy there. And it illustrates the importance of carefully picking the next president, who will pick the next justice and quite possibly more. The balance of the court is at stake.... The reach of executive power is exactly the sort of constitutional issue that should be decided by the Supreme Court, not by one of 12 regional appeals courts. But without a 9th justice to break a tie, it gets punted.... Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in March to fill the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Senate Republicans have blocked even a hearing on Garland, saying it should be the next president’s job, not this one’s, to fill the seat. It is yet another way for Republicans to register their contempt for the Democratic president.
Who knows when a new justice could even get seated, or how many 4-4 ties will result before that happens. We do know that the Senate has delayed that day and shrugged its responsibility by refusing to consider a highly qualified nominee named by the sitting president of the United States."
Editorial: Garland GOP's best bet? (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 06/28/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed two controversial rights, confirming its leftward shift, Merrick Garland or no Merrick Garland.... The moderate Garland may be Republicans' best bet."
EDITORIAL: Immigration ruling hard on California (Daily Democrat [CA] , 06/28/16)
"Last week’s non-decision by a paralyzed U.S. Supreme Court on President Barack Obama’s immigration policy reflects congressional failure on two levels.
One is Senate Republicans’ refusal to even vote on Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. The vacant seat leaves the court doomed to tie votes on divisive issues that should be resolved.... But this isn’t just about immigrants. The high court has been operating with eight justices instead of its full complement of nine since Scalia died. Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s place, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or a vote.... a Supreme Court tie is akin to the court having never heard the case at all, a waste of time and effort. ... we would rather have a full nine-person Court capable of taking definitive stands on complex issues rather than leaving the laws of our country in limbo."
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Heller needs to act on Garland’s appointment (Las Vegas Sun, 06/28/16)
Steven Horner: "It’s time for Sen. Dean Heller to fulfill his oath of office.... When a president appoints a Supreme Court Justice, he is fulfilling his oath, and when a senator advises and consents, they have fulfilled their oath. As a soldier, I may have disagreed with an order, but because of that oath, I followed every lawful order. I couldn’t wait for the next commanding officer to change that order.
As a veteran, I am asking Sen. Heller: Please fulfill your oath of office and advise and consent on Merrick Garland’s appointment. This is your obligation as an elected and sitting senator; you cannot wait for a new president."
Supreme Court cases shouldn't end with a tie (Des Moines Register [IA], 06/28/16)
Ross Daniels, Letter to the Editor: "Sen. Chuck Grassley, this is not the way the judiciary is supposed to work. Do your job and hold hearing for Judge Merrick Garland."
The Senate Republicans’ Assault on the Supreme Court: If they don't cease the manipulative obstruction of Merrick Garland, they'll forever change the confirmation process (TIME magazine, 06/27/16)
Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone: "On 103 occasions in American history an elected president has had an opportunity to fill a vacancy before the election of his predecessor, and in every one of those instances the president has been able to appoint the next justice. Moreover, in every one of these situations in which the vacancy arose during the final year of a president’s term, including such presidents as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, the Senate—sometimes controlled by the president’s party, sometimes by the opposing party—has confirmed a nominee.
There is thus neither historical precedent nor constitutional legitimacy to support the Senate Republicans’ conduct. Their obstructionism is an exercise of raw power. The Senate Republicans’ goal is to control the Supreme Court, come hell or high water. ... Obama put forth an exceptionally qualified, but very moderate, 63-year-old nominee."
EDITORIAL: System wasn't designed for tie votes (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 06/27/16)
"Thanks to Grassley, the court has been without a ninth member since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed, since Scalia was buried, he wouldn’t permit anyone nominated by the president to receive a hearing before the committee. ... It’s a powerful position, and Grassley is using it to promote his anti-Obama agenda, under the powerful gaze of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who pulls the strings of his Republican underlings in the senate.
Trust us, if McConnell gave his blessing to having hearings on the president’s qualified nominee, judge Merrick Garland, then Grassley would have conducted the hearings.
The senate’s role in judicial appointments is advise and consent, not to obstruct for political purposes. Grassley said the next president should get to pick Scalia’s replacement. It’s nonsense. It’s not what the authors of the Constitution had in mind.... And the system works, when those elected to oversee it let the system work. Grassley isn’t doing that. And he’s been pretty smug to those who would criticize his indifference to the beauty of the judicial-confirmation process envisioned more than two centuries ago.
An eight-member court is a disservice to the American people. And that’s laying at the feet of the senator."
Don Walton column (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/27/16)
"The Senate is expected to confirm the president's nomination of Robert Rossiter to be a U.S. District Court judge in Nebraska on Monday. And, just think, it only took a little over a year for the Senate to act on the nomination while Nebraska's federal court system struggled with an overload that qualifies as a "judicial emergency.""
Journal Times editorial: Deadlock and gridlock, in Congress and the courts (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 06/27/16)
"Deadlock and gridlock.
That apparently is the continued path for the U.S. government on immigration reform thanks to a 4-4 split on President Barack Obama’s plan to shield five million immigrants from deportation and allow them to go to work.
The high court’s ruling was not unexpected. Thanks to GOP opposition to allowing a vote on the president’s nomination of a ninth high court justice in hopes of getting a Republican president to make that pick, the Supreme Court will continue to deadlock on consequential decisions.... Deadlock and gridlock in Congress and in the court."
Editorial: Extreme partisanship blocks judges, cripples federal courts (Palm Beach Post [FL], 06/27/16)
"Think it’s bad that we have an empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?
Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Senate Republicans have been so successful in their strategy of obstructing any nominees by President Barack Obama that there are now 89 vacancies in the federal courts system.
Waiting to fill those spots are 58 nominees, the limbo for some going back almost a year and a half. That includes South Florida attorney Mary Barzee Flores, whose nomination 16 months ago has been blocked by her own senator, Marco Rubio. ... federal courts are where citizens go to protect important constitutional rights on voting access, the environment and discrimination. It’s where consumers and workers go to hold corporations accountable. With those courts crippled, essential liberties may be eroded."
Deadlock to hurt immigrant families (Columbus Dispatch [OH], 06/27/16)
Kenneth Goodknight, Letter to the Editor: "Regardless of one’s views on immigration, America must unite on the need for the nation’s highest court to have its vacancy filled, and Sen. Rob Portman must urge his Republican colleagues to stop their obstructionism and demand confirmation hearings on Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland."
Grassley's gamble isn't paying off (Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA], 06/26/16)
Lynda Waddington's column: "Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator is holding firm on his promise to not vet any Supreme Court nominee offered by the White House .... the U.S. Supreme Court split on a critical immigration case .... It will go down in history as another case that couldn’t be decided by a shortchanged court, courtesy of Senate Republicans and specifically U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Due to the Senate’s unprecedented decision to block any person nominated by Obama .... Case after case the political acrobatics necessary to label the final full year of a president’s term as “lame duck” become more absurd.
Where does the obstructionism and partisanship end? ... Is it now acceptable to ignore all Supreme Court vacancies until the political proclivities of the President and Senate are aligned? That is the new standard Grassley is stubbornly advocating."
EDITORIAL: Supreme Court's immigration failure (Baltimore Sun, 06/26/16)
"Now, it's up to lower courts to decide the issue as a matter of law since a deadlocked Supreme Court failed to set precedent — which, incidentally, is a vivid reminder of how the choice of GOP Senate leadership not to even hold hearings on Merrick Garland, Mr. Obama's nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat, leaves a vacancy that will hamstring the nation's highest court for a year or more."
Editorial Board: Senate must act on court vacancy (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 06/26/16)
"It has been more than three months since President Barack Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the month before. And the GOP-controlled Senate, playing pure politics, has refused to act on the nomination until after the November election.
On Thursday, a 4-4 Supreme Court failed to reach an opinion on a case that tested the administration’s authority to use the discretion it has always had to prioritize the deportation of those most in need of removal. ... The deadlock brings into stark relief the result when the Senate shirks its constitutional obligation to deny or confirm a nominee for the high court. It has refused to give Garland a hearing....there is also the injury caused simply because the Supreme Court cannot do its job without a tie-breaking vote. Laws and actions go uninterpreted, and this lack of clarity disrupts lives.
The Senate must do its job. Give Garland a hearing."
Editorial: Deadlock on immigration (El Paso Times [TX], 06/25/16)
"The Supreme Court handed down a widely anticipated split decision that effectively blocks President Obama’s executive actions on immigration enforcement.
The decision is perhaps the best illustration yet of the policy paralysis of our largely dysfunctional federal government.... a final determination will be left to a future Supreme Court.
The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. Garland likely couldn’t have been confirmed in time to participate in this case, but Republican leaders see the 4-4 split as vindication of their obstinance.
Political paralysis is now feeding on itself."
EDITORIAL: Immigrants are left in the same shadowy limbo (Corpus Christi Caller-Times [TX], 06/25/16)
"About 5 million undocumented parents of legal residents suffered a blow last week from the Supreme Court's tie vote on President Obama's order deferring action against this nonthreatening group of immigrants.... The court's decision — or, actually, its failure to reach one — leaves the decision-making to individual lower courts until a full nine-member Supreme Court can break its tie. It does not mean there's a verdict on the constitutionality of Obama's action."
My Turn: Ayotte isn’t fulfilling oath of office (Concord Monitor [NH], 06/25/16)
Column by Jean K. Burling, retired New Hampshire Superior Court judge: "One of the things that citizens of this country are entitled to is a federal judiciary that meets the constitutional design laid out in 1789.
That includes a Supreme Court bench of nine justices. Sen. Ayotte’s blockage of the president’s court nominee, Merrick Garland, has now passed 100 days.... The senator’s continued refusal to vote on Judge Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court is a breach of her constitutional duty. Her voters and all American people deserve to have a full Supreme Court bench"
OUR VIEW: Running in place [Editorial] (Daily Mail [Catskill, NY], 06/25/16)
"It’s time for Congress to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to replace Scalia, so these embarrassing 4-4 stalemates on important issues like immigration don’t repeat themselves. Whether you subscribe to the president’s plan or whether you believe he has overstepped his bounds, a five-vote Supreme Court decision one way or the other would have been preferable to more paralysis in Washington. We can no longer afford to run in place."
Democrats Protested in the Wrong Chamber: The Supreme Court’s deadlock on immigration suggests that the protest should have been in the Senate, not the House. (Atlantic, 06/24/16)
Alex Wagner: "President Obama offered this assessment: “The Court’s inability to reach a decision is a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the court to have a full bench.”
The president was referring, of course, to his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, to fill the seat left empty after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland—who just three days ago won an assessment from the American Bar Association so sterling that it included someone saying, “He may be the perfect human being”—is not a controversial candidate. He has won praise from Orrin Hatch and Jeff Sessions, and even from the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley—the architect of Garland’s limbo.
And yet, as the president pointed out, Republicans in the Senate have been delaying his nomination indefinitely."
Damage from Supreme Court blockade continues; Large majority of North Carolinians want it to end (Progressive Pulse [NC], 06/24/16)
Rob Schofield: "The fallout from the U.S. Senate’s disastrous blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland continued yesterday as the Court was forced to issue several new and momentous rulings without its full complement of justices. The lowlight occurred, of course, when the Court deadlocked 4-4 on a critically important immigration law decision. ... Meanwhile, at the same time that the Supreme Court was issuing its short-staffed rulings, new polling confirmed once again how opposed North Carolina voters are to the blockade of Garland that Senators Burr and Tillis continue to help prop up."
Atkins: Justices did nothing with immigration decision (Boston Herald, 06/24/16)
Columnist Kimberly Atkins: "For all the Republican claims of victory over yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s immigration executive order, the truth of the matter is the justices did absolutely nothing. But I guess for House and Senate leadership, doing nothing must feel comfortably familiar.... The ruling may as well have read: “We couldn’t do our jobs, because Senate lawmakers haven’t.”... But there is one thing the court can’t do: give itself another member to ensure it can function and give clarity to the rule of law. No, that’s the job of the president and the Senate. The president did his part, nominating a well-respected candidate to fill the court’s vacancy. Unfortunately, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell continues to block him."