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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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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 (, 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.

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.

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."

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 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 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.

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: 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 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."

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."

Opinion How Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat (Los Angeles Times, 04/14/17)
Dave Hoen, Letter to the Editor: Isn’t it ironic that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) single handedly decided who should serve on the Supreme Court by blocking Merrick Garland from being considered after he was nominated in 2016 by President Obama and then invoking the nuclear option to confirm Neil Gorsuch, all in an effort to replace the strict constructionist Antonin Scalia with another strict constructionist, Gorsuch?

Letter: Nothing flawless about Gorsuch process (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 04/14/17)
Sue Griswold: millions of us will recall that this nomination was stolen from our last president and given to the present White House occupant, while that occupant and his staff remain under FBI investigation for contacts with Russia. Yes, Sen. Grassley looks to have some of the flawless skills of a consigliere to a major crime family.

MINI: This is why Democrats opposed Gorsuch (Sioux City Journal [IA], 04/14/17)
Thomas E. Hudek, Letter to the Editor: Democrats opposed Mr. Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court because: 1) It was a stolen seat. Merrick Garland should at least have had an up-or-down vote. 2) Gorsuch has sided with corporations over working-class people 100 percent of the time.

Jeff Flake Probably Regrets Hosting This Town Hall: He took serious heat for healthcare and boxing out Merrick Garland. (Esquire, 04/14/17)
Jack Holmes: Flake also touched on the issue of Supreme Court nominations. How'd that go? "What happened to Merrick Garland's vote?!" Jeff Flake's constituents overwhelm him w/ boos over Gorsuch talk —via @Morning_Joe — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 14, 2017 While the tactic Republicans used to deny Merrick Garland a confirmation vote for nearly a year might not have been a filibuster, the effect was the same—and it was unprecedented. Flake's smile while trotting out this excuse betrays the fact that he knows this as well as anyone. The cynicism that now dominates Beltway politics—particularly among Mitch McConnell and his caucus—is really breathtaking.

Why Opposing Trump Isn't Like the GOP Obstructing Obama: The political press won't stop gaslighting anti-Trump Democrats and progressives (Rolling Stone, 04/14/17)
Joshua Holland: In the 230-year period between the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Barack Obama's election, opposition parties blocked a grand total of 68 presidential nominees. In the three years and 10 months between Obama's inauguration and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move to eliminate the filibuster for lower court nominees, Republicans had blocked 79 of them – that's 54 percent of the historic total in just under four years. ... Mitch McConnell, moved to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees after the Democrats filibustered Donald Trump's pick, Neil Gorsuch, who had come off as aloof and unresponsive during his confirmation hearings and offered no reason for refusing to meet with two (women) Democratic senators. ... Obama's nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland, is the only candidate in the history of the United States to be denied a hearing by the opposition. ... Democrats and progressives are outraged that Republicans effectively stole a seat that might have shifted the Court's ideological balance to the left for the first time since 1971. But the both-sides-do-it reporting we've seen makes their fury seem illogical, a simple case of sour grapes.

Tester sided with 75 percent of Montanans on Gorsuch vote (Missoulian [MT], 04/13/17)
Evan Barrett: Tester believes that Gorsuch supports the massive intrusion of corporations into our election processes, a political disaster that has allowed almost unmeasurable corporate influence on campaigns and elections since the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision. That case made corporations “citizens” and declared their money “free speech.” Tester’s opposition to Gorsuch based on this was consistent with the position held by 75 percent of Montanans when they voted on these very questions on a state ballot issue in 2012.... Daines, however, in voting for Gorsuch, chose to ignore that 75 percent, ignore their directives about this important issue, and sided with the corporate elite over the people of Montana.

Diane Wood: This administration and Congress are the worst (Longmont Daily Times-Call [CO], 04/13/17)
Letter to the Editor: McConnell violated the Constitution when he refused to consider Obama's Supreme Court nominee for an entire year. Then he used the "nuclear option," ending the filibuster, to force the Senate approval of Gorsuch, an extreme conservative. He should be held accountable for these unconstitutional actions. Remember that it was Gorsuch who judged corporations to be persons. He also ruled to allow Hobby Lobby to withhold insurance coverage on portions of birth control because of religious reasons.

Grace Hauser: Neil Gorsuch's dysfunctional nuclear family (Cap Times [WI], 04/13/17)
"The GOP employed a “nuclear option” by reducing the number of votes needed to overcome a filibuster to a simple majority, thus rendering the filibuster completely useless against Supreme Court nominees. In doing so, they dramatically changed the nature of the Senate confirmation process by eliminating the element of debate. They undermined the checks and balances that were employed to vet every previous Supreme Court nominee. ... But it isn’t just the precedent that’s scary here; it’s Neil Gorsuch himself.... Gorsuch’s views fall far behind the rest of the country."

Three myths about the Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation fight: Erwin Chemerinsky (Los Angeles Daily News [CA], 04/13/17)
"Myth 1: Confirmation fights began with the defeat of the nomination of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. This is simply false. Confirmation fights began during George Washington’s presidency. ... Myth 2: Confirmation fights unduly politicize the Supreme Court. The key democratic check on the court, an unelected body whose members have life tenure, is the nomination and confirmation process.... Myth 3: The elimination of the filibuster will lead to the appointment of more extreme Supreme Court justices.... The reality is that filibusters never have mattered with regard to Supreme Court nominations.

Democrats didn’t gratuitously forfeit the filibuster (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 04/13/17)
Harold Bloomfield, Letter to the Editor: It is laughable that Mr. Krauthammer was able to write about this subject without mentioning the Republicans’ unprecedented refusal to give Merrick Garland’s nomination a hearing and a vote. Mr. Krauthammer further amuses by stating that President Barack Obama tried to “pack three liberal judges onto the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” Mr. Obama apparently rankled Republicans by fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to nominate judges to fill existing vacancies. Mr. Krauthammer also complains about liberal judges and their freewheeling, freestyle constitutional interpretation, conveniently forgetting about the Roberts court’s precedent-shattering decisions

Congress should impeach Sen. Mitch McConnell (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 04/12/17)
Henry Bugatto, Letter to the Editor: Sen. Mitch McConnell violated his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution when he refused to hear Merrick Garland or any other Supreme Court nominee that President Obama might have sent to the Senate and instead refused for almost a year to do his job, all with no legal justification. He should be impeached. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen and will leave the legitimacy of our highest court in question. I will now call the latest justice Merrick Gorsuch to remind us of the theft of this seat.

Letter to the editor: Sen. Collins chooses her party over welfare of the nation (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/12/17)
John Howard: Almost immediately after voting to repeal long-standing Senate rules designed to protect a minority position on lifetime appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, Susan Collins issued a statement professing her deep and abiding commitment to the 60-vote rule for legislation because it “helps preserve the tradition of the Senate of respecting minority views and increases likelihood of bipartisan work.” The depth of her hypocrisy is stunning. Collins often talks a moderate game, but her votes clearly and repeatedly demonstrate that she will sacrifice the long-term welfare of the nation for the short-term, partisan benefit of the Republican Party. Her treachery in this instance reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s character The Walrus mourning the loss of his friends, the oysters, after having just devoured them.

Republicans give America an extreme right-wing Supreme Court that will divide the country more than ever: Republicans didn't just steal a Supreme Court seat; they're unwinding rules that force compromise (, 04/12/17)
Steven Rosenfeld: Senate Republicans pushed the country further down the rabbit hole of political extremism Thursday by changing the voting rules to put a far-right justice in a hijacked Supreme Court seat, cementing a conservative high court majority for years. ... Led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the Republicans refused to act on President Obama’s court nominee, Merrick Garland.... The stage was set for this judicial coup on Thursday, when Republicans, who could only get 55 votes to end the Democratic filibuster, began the procedural march to repealing that rule for Supreme Court nominations

Judge Gorsuch (Miami Herald, 04/12/17)
Jaime G Escalante, Letter to the Editor: It is a sad day for the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Neil Gorsuch is taking over a stolen seat.... The GOP denied the hearing of Judge Garland, nominated by President Obama. Then, after waiting many months, and a change in administration, the Senate changed the rules to get Gorsuch confirmed. Senator Mitch McConnell, who orchestrated this mess, is a disgrace for the Senate.