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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Jeff Sessions crossed the line when he bashed a federal judge (San Diego Union-Tribune [CA] , 04/27/17)
Glenn C. Smith: It was bad enough when candidate Donald Trump gratuitously questioned the impartiality of Gonzalo Curiel, the San Diego federal judge hearing the Trump University lawsuit. (Trump said that the judge’s ethnic heritage would make him biased.) It was even worse when President Trump accused the federal judges temporarily halting his travel bans of purely political motivations and limited intelligence. But it was especially disheartening last week to hear random disrespect for a federal judge from the mouth of Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who is, after all, the nation’s highest-ranking official with day-to-day responsibility for the rule of law. Commenting about the temporary restraining order U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued in Hawaii against the administration’s second travel ban, Sessions found it galling to be subject to a nationwide ban issued by “a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific.” The remark was eerily reminiscent of President Trump’s earlier dismissive tweet that the U.S. district judge who stopped his first travel ban was a “so-called judge.”

Sessions’s aloha-baiting could bring attention to the real problem (Washington Post, 04/24/17)
E.J. Dionne Jr.: here is Sessions’s islophobic sentence: “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” The obvious problem in Sessions’s comments ... is that Hawaii is a state like every other .... There is also the Trump administration habit of trying to discredit any judge who rules against it, the stuff of autocratic regimes. Members of the executive branch have every right to criticize and appeal lower-court decisions, but what Sessions suggested is that Derrick Watson, the federal judge in question, somehow lost his right to rule because of where his court is located.

Jeff Sessions is rolling back basic rights (Chicago Sun Times, 04/24/17)
Jesse Jackson, Op-Ed: Sessions has set out with a vengeance to transform the Department of Justice into a Department of Injustice. ... He expressed amazement that a “judge sitting on an island in the Pacific” could overturn the president’s order. That judge was a federal district court justice in the state of Hawaii, part of the union for 58 years.

Hawaii state pols find AG Sessions’ remark not so pacific (Newsday [NY], 04/24/17)
Dan Janison column: Geographically driven or not, there does seem to be a particular willingness by Trump & Co. to scoff at court opinions that frustrate them.

Trump hasn’t turned a corner (Washington Post, 04/23/17)
Jennifer Rubin, Right Turn column: His hapless Attorney General Jeff Sessions insulted the federal judge (“sitting on an island in the Pacific“) who enjoined Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban.

Why Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III Is Unfit to Serve as Attorney General (Huffington Post, 04/23/17)
Bill Blum, Contributor: Further evidence that Sessions has no business serving as our top law enforcement official emerged last week, when he took an intemperate swipe at Hawaii-based U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Kahala Watson during an interview with ultraconservative radio talk show host Mark Levin. Sessions was livid with Watson—who is one of only two active federal judges of indigenous heritage—for issuing a nationwide injunction blocking enforcement of President Trump’s second Muslim travel ban.

Sessions' Hawaii remark was just idiotic (Editorial) (Republican [Springfield, MA], 04/21/17)
"It has become fair to wonder if Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a complete idiot. In an example of foot-in-mouth bungling that's astonishing even by Trump Administration standards, Sessions remarked he was "amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power." The voice of legal authority in the Cabinet described the state of Hawaii, where a federal judge blocked President Trump's executive order on immigration, as if it were some uninhabited atoll.... Because "I'm sorry" is treated as obscene language in this administration, Sessions says he would not rephrase the comment - a refusal that compounds the absurdity of the original remark."

Should we tell Jeff Sessions where Pearl Harbor is?: Opinion (Times-Picayune [LA] , 04/21/17)
Jarvis DeBerry, deputy opinions editor for NOLA.COM | The Times-Picayune: I do know that the merits of the temporary restraining order case won't be decided based on the judge's residence in Hawaii. We all should be smart enough to know that. Then how come Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general of the United States, seems to cast aspersions on the temporary restraining order simply because it was issued "on an island in the Pacific?"

[Editorial] Federal judges in Hawaii count, too (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 04/21/17)
"Does Hawaii count as less of a state than, say, Alabama? Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to think so. ... Sessions was criticizing a ruling from U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson last month that blocked President Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim countries. Watson was confirmed to the federal bench in a 94-0 vote that included support from Sessions.... It seems to us Sessions is sitting on an island of his own."

Jeff Sessions dissed Hawaii as 'an island in the pacific.' Hawaii is not amused (PennLive [PA], 04/21/17)
John L. Micek column: being America's Attorney General is a demanding gig, requiring a mastery of the law, an understanding of the intricacies of politics and the ability to skillfully navigate the halls of power. But one of the things it does not require, apparently, is an understanding of basic American geography. Thus has current AG Jeff Sessions found himself in hot water over some intemperate remarks about America's 50th state .... Sessions was talking about the second of the Trump administration's thwarted travel bans, which U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson of Hawaii blocked,... it's not surprising to learn that its residents and elected leaders were pretty aggrieved by Sessions' dismissal.

Commentary: Trump’s rubber stamp on Supreme Court would threaten voting rights (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 03/14/17)
Guest Columnist, Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota: Gorsuch currently sits on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Colorado, New Mexico and other states, and has generally landed his judicial gavel on the opposite side of rights for workers, women, students or those who do not have the big money to influence elections. In other words, people who look to the courts to provide relief for wrongs committed by people and corporations in more powerful positions.... Gorsuch once wrote that “the left” uses the courts too much to protect rights instead of going through the political process, without acknowledging intimidation tactics that deny equal access to the ballot. So far, the federal courts have rejected the 2011 Texas voter ID law. But how would Gorsuch vote if the case reaches the Supreme Court? The nation should not face that prospect, and that is why we urge the Senate to reject Gorsuch.

Commentary: Trump’s rubber stamp on Supreme Court would threaten voting rights (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 03/08/17)
Guest Columnist Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota: Donald Trump’s election delivered a new line of attack against equal access to voting, not just with his unsubstantiated voter fraud claims, but because of his pick to head the U.S. Department of Justice: Attorney General Jeff Sessions.... Gorsuch has likened himself in judicial philosophy to Scalia. If that is true on voting rights, we have much to fear. In 2013, Scalia led the court’s 5-4 vote decision to dismantle the core provision of the Voting Rights Act ... we urge the Senate to reject Gorsuch.

Letter: GOP abdicates its moral and civic responsibilities (Bend Bulletin [OR], 03/07/17)
Shawna Smith: We have watched, bewildered, as you scold the Democrats for their reluctance to confirm Neil Gorsuch, after you set the precedent with your childish refusal to even consider Barack Obama’s objectively qualified nominee. The hypocrisy is truly mind-boggling, and yet you continue to clutch your metaphorical pearls and declare that you can’t imagine why the Democrats would do such a thing.

[Editorial] Looking for the truth (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 03/06/17)
"Truthfulness counts. Even among our politicians. Yes, often it is shaded, obscured or even twisted, but a kernel of honesty is a requirement. When it’s not there, liars generally are punished, often severely, as they should be. Attorney General Jeff Sessions finds himself mired in a controversy arising from his less-than-truthful testimony during his Senate confirmation hearing....Sessions has recused himself into any inquiry regarding Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. That’s good enough Sen. Charles Grassley, who oversaw Sessions’ exchange with Franken as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley said Friday he has no plans to compel Sessions to revisit the body to clarify the matter. That’s unfortunate, especially since truth is being knocked around pretty hard during the protracted confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks."

Editorial: Trump's Russian connections require special prosecutor (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 03/05/17)
"The excuses and double-speak matter little. The fact is, Sessions either accidentally mischaracterized his mingling with Russian government officials or, at the very worst, committed perjury. For the second time in as many months, Trump found himself defending a cabinet member for being less than honest about confabs with officials from a country that was actively attempting to handicap the presidential election. Yet Grassley made clear Thursday that he had no intention of seeking charges against Sessions for the false testimony offered to his Judiciary Committee. The least he can do is assure that any probe is legitimate and not some political facade. ... Sessions' recusal alone, which Grassley lauded, won't do. This flap perhaps should cost Sessions his job, regardless of how "ridiculous" Grassley finds the idea. ... Sessions is the second member of the administration to falsely describe his contacts with the Russians. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's downfall last month applied the heat to Republicans wanting this story to die. Sessions' lack of candor could cook them.... Grassley ... built a reputation for bipartisanship, one that was damaged last year when he stonewalled President Obama's Supreme Court pick."

Editorial: Fifty shades of Faso now playing in Capitol (Times Herald-Record [NY] , 03/05/17)
"Sessions, the nation's top lawyer, is expected to provide a clear example of lawfulness, and Faso, also a lawyer, should know that perjury is a simple concept. You take an oath, you tell the truth. Anything else is a lie.... Democrats who want to follow the law and follow previous examples of perjured testimony believe that Sessions cannot continue to serve in his important job."

[Editorial] Jeff Sessions must go: Deceptive behavior disqualifies attorney general from position (Watertown Daily Times [NY], 03/05/17)
"Sessions’s tenure as head of the U.S. Department of Justice cannot continue. He should resign his office immediately.... He cleverly evaded a question during his confirmation hearing about contacts he had with Russian officials. And now he’s trying to parse words to make it appear as though he did not intend to mislead senators as they reviewed his credentials for this position.... This kind of deception is unacceptable coming from our attorney general."

Editorial: Pride, lies and hypocrisy (Kingman Daily Miner [AZ], 03/05/17)
"Jeff Sessions needs to resign as the 84th Attorney General of the United States. The chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. doesn’t get to lie, and he especially doesn’t get to commit perjury in front of the Congress of the United States."

[Editorial] The Justice Department to black voters: Don’t bother [Print headline: Indifference to voting rights, Mr. Sessions shrugs at a blatantly discriminatory ID law in Texas] (Washington Post, 03/05/17)
"In one of his first significant moves since taking office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw cold water on long-standing efforts by the Justice Department to clean up a blatantly discriminatory Texas law clearly designed to suppress African American and other Democratic-leaning votes. The move was in keeping with Mr. Sessions’s long-standing hostility to civil and voting rights"

Federal prosecutors have brought charges in cases far less serious than Sessions’s [Print headline: Sessions shouldn't get a free pass] (Washington Post, 03/05/17)
Op-Ed By Philip Lacovara and Lawrence Robbins: Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a seemingly false statement under oath during his confirmation hearing.... as lawyers at the Justice Department and attorneys in private practice who have represented individuals accused in such cases, we can state with assurance: Federal prosecutors have brought charges in cases involving far more trivial misstatements and situations far less consequential than whether a nominee to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer misled fellow senators during his confirmation hearings.... As any number of witnesses have learned the hard way, it is a federal felony to lie to Congress. ... Those elements all appear to be present.... Certainly there is precedent for a prosecution in this context.

[Editorial] Hits & Misses: Sessions steps away (Virginian-Pilot, 03/04/17)
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions did the least right thing by recusing himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 American presidential election. Especially since he should certainly become a subject of inquiry as investigations move forward."

[Editorial] Sessions questions: The attorney general spreads smoke from the Trump campaign's Russia-fueled fire. (Houston Chronicle, 03/04/17)
"The question about Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is whether he lied under oath about his dealings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. U.S. intelligence officials have described Kislyak as a top spy and spy recruiter. During a Senate confirmation meeting, Sessions said he, as a campaign surrogate, "did not have communications with the Russians." That is not true."

Attorney General Sessions' recusal far from the end of the story (Editorial) (Republican [Springfield, MA], 03/03/17)
"Depends on whom you ask, but if you watched the attorney general's press conference on Thursday afternoon, you might well have reason to believe that he won't be long on the job. ... Sessions, answering a question from Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., about contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, said: "I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn't have - did not have communications with the Russians." Well, if you don't count those two meetings with Kislyak, that is."

Editorial Jeff Sessions recuses himself from any investigation into Trump's Russia ties. Better late than never (Los Angeles Times, 03/03/17)
"It long has been obvious that Sessions should play no role in any action related to what intelligence agencies say was an attempt by Russian intelligence to promote Trump’s campaign at the expense of Hillary Clinton. As this editorial page said last month, “Sessions needs to leave this issue to someone else.”... Sessions had said under oath that he’d had no contacts with Russian officials about the campaign, but in fact he’d met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak"

Editorial: Recusal only a start (Boston Herald, 03/03/17)
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions got it half right. Recusing himself from any ongoing or future investigation of the 2016 presidential campaign and any possible Russian interference in that campaign is a first step in assuring the integrity of any probe. It is necessary but not entirely sufficient in this particular case, which cries out for the kind of independence and distance only the appointment of a special prosecutor can assure."

[Editorial] Answers due on any Russia connection (Times and Democrat [SC], 03/03/17)
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions twice talked with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the campaign, meetings that are now being acknowledged by Sessions, though in doing so he appears to be contradicting testimony made before the Senate during the confirmation process. Sessions and the administration contend he met with the envoy in his role as a U.S. senator and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, yet there is no denying that Sessions was an ardent supporter and policy adviser of Trump’s. He was deeply involved in the campaign when the meetings occurred.... Claims that he perjured himself are extreme, but there remains the question of why he did not acknowledge meetings with the ambassador from the offset.... An independent investigation is warranted"

[Editorial] Jeff Sessions, Russia and the truth (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 03/02/17)
"Sessions chose to mislead. Should he resign for failing to tell the truth with the stakes so high? That would be the honorable course. At the least, the Trump White House now should press Congress for an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate fully the Russian intervention."

Editorial: A real investigation, now (Albany Times Union [NY], 03/02/17)
"With seemingly each day bringing another drama in Washington, it’s quite possible that by the time you read this, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will have resigned, as he most certainly should. Unlikely as that may be, it seems even less likely that Congress will have put aside partisan differences and taken steps to designate an independent body to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election, or to name a special prosecutor to determine whether any laws were broken by people in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or inner circle. Yet all that, too, should certainly be done. ... At best, Mr. Sessions evaded a forthright answer. At worst, he lied. Either way, it raises the question of why he simply did not tell the full truth. Was he trying to conceal something? It’s behavior unbecoming the nation’s top law official. It should cost him his job."

Editorial: Bring on a special prosecutor to probe Russia scandal (Chicago Sun Times, 03/02/17)
"Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself. Whether he might now be compelled to resign remains an open question. The more pressing matter is to appoint a superb special prosecutor who gives no quarter."

[Editorial] Jeff Sessions was right to step aside, but a special prosecutor is needed (Newsday [NY], 03/02/17)
"As the flames got increasingly higher Thursday around Attorney General Jeff Sessions for giving misleading answers during his Senate confirmation hearings, he recused himself from supervising any investigations of the campaign .... Sessions was a key Trump campaign adviser and later the nominee for attorney general. Yet when he was asked at his hearing in January whether anyone affiliated with the campaign had any communications with the Russian government, he said he himself had none."