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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Editorials and Opinion

 

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The Courts Have Halted Trump’s Bigoted Policies, But the Senate Wants to Confirm All His Judges (Center for American Progress, 06/12/17)
Billy Corriher and Anisha Singh: Many federal judges will consider these questions of executive power and government discrimination during the next few years, and President Trump could nominate hundreds of judges for lifetime appointments that last decades. ... Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen has been nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, and she has a broad view of the president’s authority over national security. ... Justice Larsen, who had been a judge for less than a year before she found herself on President Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees, co-authored a classified OLC brief on whether suspected terrorists can challenge their indefinite detention in court.... Before confirming any of President Trump’s judicial nominees, the Senate must demand to know whether they will rubber-stamp his discriminatory agenda.

The conservative mind has become diseased (Washington Post, 05/25/17)
Michael Gerson, syndicated column: Those conservatives who believe that the confirmation of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch is sufficient justification for the Trump presidency are ignoring Trump’s psychic and moral destruction of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Clinton, with a small number of changed votes, would have defeated Republicans. But Trump is doing a kind of harm beyond anything Clinton could have done. He is changing the party’s most basic moral and political orientations. He is shaping conservatism in his image and ensuring an eventual defeat more complete, and an eventual exile more prolonged, than Democrats could have dreamed.

Neil Gorsuch Shows His Hand On Money In Politics As Court Turns Down Big Case: It looks like Gorsuch sides with Justice Clarence Thomas, a noted opponent of restrictions on big donors. (Huffington Post, 05/22/17)
Paul Blumenthal: Gorsuch’s decision to join Thomas, a noted opponent of campaign finance restriction with a written record opposed to all campaign contribution limits and some disclosure rules, suggests that he, too, will be an outspoken critic of restrictions on money in politics. During his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch refused to answer questions about his views on this subject ― as he did with nearly every other topic presented to him.

Breaking: #SCOTUS Declines Soft Money Case; Thomas and Gorsuch Would Vote to Hear (Election Law Blog, 05/22/17)
Rick Hasen: This also tells us something about Justice Gorsuch. He was not shy at all — not only about being willing to wade into this very controversial area, but about announcing publicly his vote to hear the case (something he did not need to do). It could well be that he will be as conservative as Justice Thomas is in these cases. (Justice Thomas believes all campaign finance laws—including disclosure—should be subject to strict scrutiny and are likely unconstitutional.)

Trump’s Justice: Neil Gorsuch will be the enduring symbol of a disastrous presidency. (Slate.com, 05/17/17)
Mark Joseph Stern: Gorsuch will be around for decades, helping to shape American law. But no matter how long he stays on the bench, his legacy—and his court itself—will be permanently tainted by Trump’s turpitude. No matter what happened during Trump’s presidency, Gorsuch was destined to go down in history with an asterisk next to his name. The justice assumed a seat Republicans stole from President Barack Obama by refusing to hold hearings, let alone a vote, for Merrick Garland. This unprecedented blockade was an appalling political heist, diminishing the court’s independence in an effort to preserve its conservatism. Anyone who agreed to take this stolen seat was bound to be viewed as illegitimate by a broad swath of the country.

PRESIDENT TRUMP NOMINATES JUDGES EVEN HE COULD LOVE (New Yorker, 05/11/17)
Jeffrey Toobin: “On Monday, President Trump announced his first group of lower-court nominations to the federal bench. The list illustrates how differently Democratic and Republican Presidents have approached the task of making judges: it comes down to ideology versus diversity. ... Republicans since Ronald Reagan have recognized the power of federal judges to move the country in a conservative direction. Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court showed that the new President belongs to the same tradition, and his ten judicial nominees—five to the circuit courts of appeals and five to the district courts—reveal that he will continue to use the courts to advance his political agenda.”

How about nixing double-standard on Trump, Obama? (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 04/24/17)
Letter to the Editor, Kyle Johnson: So, Mr. Keane thinks it's "way past time for the Democrats and the people to put aside their differences and unite for the betterment of our country." That would have been so nice if Mitch McConnell would have done that very thing when President Obama nominated Justice Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans had simply done their jobs and confirmed him. Justice Garland was no less qualified than Justice Gorsuch. But the Republicans simply wanted to continue to obstruct. Finally, Republicans went "nuclear" to just to get their way.

After years of obstructing judges, Republicans anxious to pack the courts with extremists (Daily Kos, 04/24/17)
Joan McCarter: Senate Republicans used every trick in the parliamentary playbook—and invented a few new ones—to keep President Barack Obama from appointing federal judges. ... the lion's share of the blame for the judicial crisis across the country rests on Mitch McConnell and crew. That's all changed, though, with popular vote loser Donald Trump in office. Here's their chance to pack the courts with ideologues, in the mold of new Supreme Court associate justice Neil Gorsuch.

Letter: Gorsuch was confirmed by a shabby political maneuver Republicans will regret (TCPalm.com, 04/21/17)
Milton Weiss: Judge Neil Gorsuch has been confirmed ... the seat he is filling is not "the Scalia seat" but the one stolen by Republicans from its rightful occupant, Judge Merrick Garland. Through a shameful political maneuver, President Obama's nominee was not even given the courtesy of a Senate hearing, much less a vote. Instead we have Neil Gorsuch, the darling of the right-wing Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, the Koch Brothers, and other big money corporate interests. ... The shabby Republican political trick of refusing to consider President Obama's nominee for the last year of the Obama presidency, coupled with the nuclear option employed to break the Democratic filibuster will have significant future consequences. ... The day will come when Republicans will regret their clever but reprehensible action in having stonewalled the nomination of Judge Garland and in so doing damaged the reputation and future functioning of the United States Senate.

Commentary, Chris Carlson: Idaho will regret 'nuclear option' (Lewiston Tribune [ID], 04/21/17)
"For the most recent example of this unintended consequence of not thinking through a matter, we have Idaho's senior U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, a Harvard law product, no less, to thank. In going along with his party in rationalizing not even holding a hearing on President Barack Obama's nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, one of Crapo's expressed reasons was a perception on his part that Garland was weak on Second Amendment rights. In voting to secure Court of Appeals 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination by President Donald Trump, Crapo joined his majority Republican colleagues in doing away with the requirement that 60 votes is needed to end a filibuster. That they don't see this as a precedent that will be invoked with regard to legislation sooner rather than later is stunning. Without the ability to hold up the process by filibuster, defenders of the Second Amendment are going to discover they have lost their greatest aid. In Crapo's case, it is so ironic that he invoked Garland's perceived weakness on gun rights only to turn around and vote for the "nuclear option," which literally shatters Second Amendment protections. All it will take will be for the Democrats to recapture the Senate (which will happen sooner or later), then do away with allowing filibusters on legislation, then ram urban-oriented legislation down the throats of small states and, in particular, Western states."

Printed Letter: Neil Gorsuch clearly lacks sense of justice (Daily Sentinel [CO], 04/21/17)
Rudolph J. Textor: The most striking disqualifying element of Neil M. Gorsuch’s character is that he has no sense of, and no interest in, justice. If he did, he would have publicly stated that Merrick B. Garland was the legitimate candidate for the recent Supreme Court justice vacancy. Additionally, he would have publicly repudiated the past 13 months of vicious Republican Party machinations by which his illegitimate nomination and installation were engineered.

[Editorial] Neil Gorsuch and the State’s Power to Kill (New York Times, 04/21/17)
"In short, the first significant decision by Justice Gorsuch, who was sworn in to office less than two weeks ago, was the most consequential any justice can make — to approve a man’s killing by the state. That man, like so many others condemned to die around the country, was a walking catalog of reasons the American death penalty is a travesty. Evidence that Mr. Lee was intellectually disabled and suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome was never introduced into court, mainly because he had egregiously bad representation.... That 4-to-4 split effectively gave the deciding vote over Mr. Lee’s life to Justice Gorsuch, sitting in a seat that by all rights should be occupied not by him but by President Barack Obama’s doomed nominee, Merrick Garland. During his confirmation hearings, Justice Gorsuch talked a lot about his respect for the rule of law, and the importance of sticking to the plain text of the Constitution and of statutes. But he didn’t have to rewrite the Eighth Amendment to see, as Justice Breyer did, that Mr. Lee’s case exemplified “how the arbitrary nature of the death penalty system, as presently administered, runs contrary to the very purpose of a ‘rule of law.’ ” Neil Gorsuch held the power of life and death in his hands Thursday night. His choice led to Ledell Lee’s execution, and gave the nation an early, and troubling, look into the mind-set of the high court’s newest member.

Clive McFarlane: Will of the people a relative concept? (Telegram & Gazette [MA], 04/21/17)
"That obstructionism culminated in these lawmakers denying Mr. Obama his constitutional obligation to appoint Judge Merrick Garland of the Washington D.C. Circuit to the U.S. Supreme Court following the untimely death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans claimed that their 14-month strategy to block Judge Garland’s nomination was to let the will of the people speak during the 2016 elections. Of course, a combined 135.4 million people voted to elect Mr. Obama in 2008 (69.5 million) and to re-elect him in 2012 (65.9 million). Donald Trump captured the White House with fewer than 63 million of the popular vote in 2016 (some two million fewer than his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton), but according to the logic of the Republicans, Mr. Trump’s total is a better measure of the people’s will."

McConnell further divided Senate (Missoulian [MT], 04/20/17)
Chuck Aker, Letter to the Editor: I am disappointed in U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell! ... McConnell started this battle when he would not allow the Senate to reject or confirm President Obama’s candidate for the Supreme Court. McConnell was more interested in further dividing the Senate, rather than allowing senators to work as statesmen/women. McConnell is not a statesman and his action invoking the nuclear option on April 6 has further created a Senate divided. McConnell has misused his Senate majority power and needs to be replaced.

Letter: Never forget the name Merrick Garland (Santa Cruz Sentinel [CA], 04/19/17)
Ronald T. Beebe: Now we have a Thief Justice, sitting in the stolen Supreme Court seat that should rightly have gone to Merrick Garland. Let us never forget his name, Merrick Garland. As for the new guy, don’t mention his name at all. For the rest of his life always refer to him as the Thief Justice and everyone will know exactly who you are talking about.

Justice Gorsuch and the Failure of the Senate (American Constitution Society Blog, 04/18/17)
Jim Brosnahan, Guest Post: Nothing in what now-Justice Gorsuch testified to or what the ten million dollars in TV ads supporting him said gave the slightest assurance he will uphold the Constitution against this president.... what should be the standards for Supreme Court nominees?... First, being in the habit of applying reasonable doubt about the proper outcome of any matter as the case is first addressed....Second, a talent and love for both induction and deduction. ... Thirdly, an empathetic sense of the effect of a ruling on persons negatively impacted by it. ... Justice Gorsuch struck out on all three of my criteria.

Letter on nuclear option: How it happened (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 04/18/17)
Wayne Powers: After five years of obstruction, including 79 of Obama’s appointments having been blocked, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed the rules of the Senate to require 51 votes instead of 60 for judges to be confirmed, not including Supreme Court justices. Then Justice Antonin Scalia died, ...Immediately McConnell said there was not going to be an Obama Supreme Court nominee brought to the floor for a vote. Reason: He was in the last year of his presidency. Nowhere in the Constitution is this mentioned. Obama nominates Merrick Garland, a judge who had been confirmed by a large, bipartisan margin ... And then President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch. Democrats, possibly stinging from the treatment given by the Republicans to Obama’s nominee, did not get on board. So on April 6, McConnell launched the bomb that brought down the “greatest deliberative body in the world.”

Warren had good reason to filibuster (Lowell Sun [MA], 04/17/17)
Letter to the editor, William Metcalf: The Democrats first exercised the "nuclear option" because the GOP refused to even consider President Obama's judicial nominees for the U.S. appellate courts. The GOP exercised the "nuclear option" because, while Democrats considered President Trump's Supreme Court nominee they refused to vote in the affirmative for him. The Democrats were willing to vote (if only to reject), while the Republicans were unwilling to hold a vote they couldn't win. The adult thing to do would've been to present an acceptable nominee or practice bipartisan politics as it's been practiced for centuries.

Gorsuch already trying to blow up the Supreme Court (Daily Kos, 04/17/17)
Joan McCarter: If you watched any of the hearings then you won't be surprised to learn that Gorsuch is as smug, arrogant, and entitled as an associate justice as he was as a nominee. His first case, fittingly, is about worker rights and how much you can screw them and he is just so into it.... "His questions drew pushback from Justice Elena Kagan, who said that position would mark a "revolution," though in a technical area of law."

Gorsuch is the face of the new not-normal (Philadelphia Tribune [PA], 04/17/17)
Rachel Sklar: when things are not normal, you cannot behave as though they are. That is why Senate Democrats were right to filibuster the nomination and reject it

Susan Collins: The Senate moderate who wasn’t (Seacoastonline [Southern ME & NH], 04/16/17)
Column By Douglas Rooks: She saw it differently for Gorsuch; a single nomination was worth abandoning Senate rules. She cited as precedent the 2013 decision by Democrats to end the filibuster for presidential nominees except the Supreme Court, though the situations weren’t comparable. In 2013, Senate Republicans, stunned by Obama’s re-election, filibustered all of his nominees for important posts. ... It’s hard to see what else Democratic Leader Harry Reid could have done, given this wholesale rejectionism. ... She said Judge Gorsuch was mainstream, yet his decisions reflexively favor corporations over employees, even in the case of the trucker fired for driving his big rig out of a snowstorm because he feared freezing, or the Hobby Lobby case, where one corporate CEO’s sensibilities overrode the health care needs of 32,000 employees.

The Public Pulse: GOP has politicized the Supreme Court (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 04/16/17)
Marylyn Felion: I do not recall any time when Democrats stonewalled a Republican nominee until the Republican president was out of office, thereby stealing a Supreme Court seat. What was done to Merrick Garland was unprecedented and unfair. It may signal the end of securing politically nonpartisan Supreme Court justices. Very sad.

Letter: We have had quite enough of Hatch (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 04/16/17)
Ryan Hinkins: Hatch's efforts in concert with his party in denying a vote to Judge Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination was nothing short of denying the will of the people. President Barack Obama was elected for a four-year term and was expected to serve all of it, which he did. That included nominating Supreme Court judges.

Letter to the editor: Rethink Collins’ suitability as senator after her support for Gorsuch (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/15/17)
Diane Herrle: I was saddened to see Susan Collins choose power and partisan politics over the people of Maine. She voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. This is a judge who ruled to deny a decent education to disabled children. Luckily, his decision was recently struck down by the existing Supreme Court. He has a history of deciding judgments for corporations instead of individuals. This very defective judge will now sit on the court forever because of her choice.

Shame on Democrats? No, shame on McConnell. (Washington Post, 04/15/17)
Larry Sternbane, Letter to the Editor: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in blaming Democrats for the “direct attack on the traditions of the Senate” that led his conference to change Senate rules, conveniently left out the fact that the Senate, under his control, abdicated its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent with regard to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Under Mr. McConnell’s watch, Mr. Garland did not even get the courtesy of a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, much less an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.... This despicable act, to which the Senate Republican Conference acquiesced, was a remarkable showing of disrespect for a sitting president and for Mr. Garland, a well-qualified nominee.

Letter to the editor: King’s vote against Gorsuch was well-reasoned (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/15/17)
Bruce Bartrug: Sen. King’s public forum concerning the nomination of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, … Over 600 people attended, … Of the 77 persons who spoke at the forum, only 13 supported Gorsuch. In an article in the Press Herald on April 4, Sen. King clearly indicated his reasons for deciding not to vote for Gorsuch. Those reasons included his research into Gorsuch’s judgments, as well as the way Gorsuch responded to questions at his nomination hearing.

Letter to the Editor by Vincent Miragliotta (Washington Post, 04/15/17)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s April 9 op-ed, pleading for the Democrats to cooperate, should be snipped from print copies and tacked to the walls of any political office where interns are to be taught how cleverly crafted hypocrisy, in the presence of enough voter ignorance, can justify otherwise reprehensible behavior.... leave out how you decided that the Senate majority could, nearly a year from an election, dodge its collective responsibility to confirm your opponent’s Supreme Court nominee, for no reason other than “a president of a different party had nominated him.”"

Letter to the Editor by Benjamin Hollander (Washington Post, 04/15/17)
"Surely there can be no other reason than that it was then-President Barack Obama making the nomination for Mr. McConnell himself to deny Mr. Garland those same basic considerations he now feels are so important, given Mr. Garland’s long history of bipartisan support in the Senate. Although Mr. McConnell would like to pretend that Mr. Gorsuch’s nomination happened in a vacuum, we must not forget Mr. McConnell’s reprehensible conduct in 2016, when he was presented with a true consensus candidate."

Letter to the Editor by Marijane Hynes (Washington Post, 04/15/17)
"Sen. Mitch McConnell’s nauseating op-ed about Democrats needing to work with the Republicans came from the man who said in 2010 that his top priority in government was making Barack Obama a one-term president. ... McConnell will go down in history as one of the major stonewallers of government of our time."

Letter to the Editor by Myron Beckenstein (Washington Post, 04/15/17)
"Even if the Democrats planned to filibuster the nomination, it did not follow that the “nuclear option” had to be invoked. That was discretionary. In his op-ed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not mention Judge Merrick Garland, even though Mr. McConnell again stretched the limits of what could be done just to deny Mr. Garland a seat on the Supreme Court. It isn’t fairness Mr. McConnell is seeking; it is partisan supremacy no matter the cost to the nation."