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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Editorial: The chief justice objects (Toledo Blade [OH], 03/16/10)
"Justice Roberts' pronouncement that President Obama's first State of the Union address was "very troubling" is so unpersuasive. Among us mortals, being told the plain truth about job performance is considered normal....The ruling in the campaign finance case was preposterous. The majority could have ruled on narrow grounds, but went out of its way in a fit of right-wing judicial activism to hold that corporations have First Amendment rights similar to those of ordinary citizens. The gods of the Supreme Court needed to hear about that."

Editorial: Make drinking water safe once again (Virginian-Pilot, 03/14/10)
"The proposed Clean Water Restoration Act is designed to do exactly what its name implies - restore the full power of the Clean Water Act, a cornerstone of the nation's environmental and public health laws. In recent years, two controversial rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court have weakened the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to enforce pollution controls established by the act in 1972."

Chief Justice Roberts is a big crybaby (Washington Post, 03/11/10)
Ruth Marcus column: The State of the Union address is the occasion to discuss the most important issues facing the country. The Supreme Court ruling that President Obama said "reversed a century of law" and threatened to "open the floodgates for special spend without limit in our elections" certainly fits that bill. It was appropriate for the president to use the occasion to call on Congress to craft a legislative response to the decision -- even in the presence of its authors.

Editorial: A clear definition: Clean Water Restoration Act could clarify law (Battle Creek Enquirer [MI], 03/10/10)
"court decisions over the past decade have muddied the waters concerning what exactly is protected under the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 ruled that certain isolated ponds did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Then in 2006, the high court left up in the air exactly what role the federal government should play in protecting wetlands. In ruling on two Michigan cases that year, the nine justices split three ways in their views and issued five opinions, none of which had majority support."

Editorial: THE RETURN OF MUDDY WATERS (Philadelphia Daily News [PA], 03/04/10)
"it may be difficult to believe that this country once again is poised to allow private companies to turn a profit by befouling the water we swim in and use to irrigate our crops, and contaminate the streams that feed into our drinking-water supply. Actually, we're well along the way, thanks to two decisions - in 2001 and 2006 - by the U.S. Supreme Court that were seized upon by the Bush administration to limit the Environmental Protection Agency's jurisdiction in enforcing the act as it had for 30 years."

Editorial: Add force to Clean Water Act (Boston Globe, 03/04/10)
"RECENT DECISIONS by the US Supreme Court have undermined the ability of the US Environmental Protection Agency to stop pollution of the nation’s waterways. Congress should pass a Senate bill that would leave no doubt about the agency’s authority to crack down on manufacturers, developers, and others guilty of discharging toxic wastes into wetlands and river. /... According to EPA regulators cited by the New York Times this week, more than 1,500 major pollution investigations have been dropped or put on hold in the past four years. The Times report cited EPA data showing that about 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources that, under the court rulings, could be excluded from Clean Water Act jurisdiction."

Mainstream Judicial Nominees (Concurring Opinions, 02/28/10)
Gerard Magliocca: "Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito are mainstream conservatives, while Justice Sotomayor is a mainstream liberal. Anyone who fits that category should be confirmed by the Senate unless a valid issue is raised about that candidate’s integrity or experience. Professor Liu easily passes that test."

Editorial: A bipartisan opportunity (Toledo Blade [OH], 02/23/10)
"A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that eight out of 10 Americans disagree with last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and unions to spend like drunken sailors on political campaigns.... The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision, which ignores a century of legislation restricting the ability of corporations to influence elections, reinforces the belief shared by many on Main Street that their votes count for less than big-money interests....Turning the clock back to the time before the Supreme Court ruling would give average Americans an important victory. Accomplishing this in a bipartisan manner would help restore badly needed voter confidence in their senators and representatives."

Editorial: Open the Door  (New York Times, 02/22/10)
"Victims of employment discrimination are increasingly finding the courthouse door closed, as conservative judges twist the law to throw out civil rights suits on technicalities.... The facts are similar to those in the Lilly Ledbetter case, in which the Supreme Court, in a widely criticized ruling, threw out a female supervisor’s pay-discrimination claim, on the ground that she didn’t complain in time. Congress rightly passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to make clear that the statute of limitations resets each time an employee is paid at a discriminatory rate. It was among the first bills President Obama signed into law after taking office. The Supreme Court should get it right this time around, and rule that the would-be firefighters complained in time. If it does not, Congress should pass another law ensuring that victims of employment discrimination get their day in court."

Sen. Evan Bayh: Why I’m Leaving the Senate  (New York Times, 02/20/10)
"There are many causes for the dysfunction: strident partisanship, unyielding ideology, a corrosive system of campaign financing, gerrymandering of House districts, endless filibusters, holds on executive appointees in the Senate, dwindling social interaction between senators of opposing parties and a caucus system that promotes party unity at the expense of bipartisan consensus....The recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, allowing corporations and unions to spend freely on ads explicitly supporting or opposing political candidates, will worsen matters. The threat of unlimited amounts of negative advertising from special interest groups will only make members more beholden to their natural constituencies and more afraid of violating party orthodoxies....filibusters should require 35 senators to sign a public petition and make a commitment to continually debate an issue in reality, not just in theory. Those who obstruct the Senate should pay a price in public notoriety and physical exhaustion. That would lead to a significant decline in frivolous filibusters. Filibusters should also be limited to no more than one for any piece of legislation."

Our view: Full disclosure; Lawmakers offer swift response to Supreme Court ruling (Anchorage Daily News [AK] , 02/20/10)
"On Thursday, Jan. 21, the United States Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions can spend freely to support or oppose a candidate for federal office right up to Election Day. On Friday, Feb. 19, lawmakers in the Alaska Legislature proposed bills that would require strict disclosure and disclaimer statements on such advertising. Well done."

Editorial: Ban corporation donations (News Leader [Staunton, VA], 02/19/10)
"Thank you, Supreme Court. Bush v. Gore was just small potatoes, it turns out. This re-interpretation of the First Amendment disenfranchises living, breathing voters and for generations to come, hands the power of the ballot box over to these rich, newly minted corporate citizens."

Editorial: Countering the court (Los Angeles Times, 02/19/10)
"The Supreme Court unconscionably overreached last month when it ruled -- in a case that didn't require it to address the issue at all -- that corporations have a 1st Amendment right to advertise on behalf of political candidates. That decision overturned a 60-year-old law, and Congress is right to be considering ways to remedy some of its unhealthy consequences. But in doing so, it needs to be more discriminating than the court was."

The Implications of Citizens United (Daily Journal [CA] , 02/18/10)
Prof. Erwin Chemerinksy: "Chief Justice Roberts said that the Court should overrule the earlier decisions because they were "erroneous." But what made them erroneous was simply that a majority of the current Court disagreed with the prior rulings. During their confirmation hearings, John Roberts and Samuel Alito talked a great deal about "precedent" and "super precedent." It is clear now that was empty rhetoric. The Roberts Court obviously gives little weight to precedent, as evidenced last term by decisions overruling prior rulings...Citizens United should put to rest the constant conservative attack on judicial activism. By any measure, Citizens United was stunning in its judicial activism....Ultimately, the Court's decision in Citizens United must be understood as a desire by the five most conservative justices to advance the conservative agenda of giving more power and influence to corporations. It should leave little doubt as to who are the activists on the current Court."

Editorial: Who's paying for it? (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 02/18/10)
"A proposal that would make it easier to find out who is paying for political ads in federal elections is needed after the damage caused by a recent Supreme Court ruling.... There should be bipartisan support for their proposal. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 85 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans oppose the Supreme Court's decision, and 72 percent of those polled favor new campaign-finance limits. The court undermined decades of sensible election law, and the damage can't be easily undone. Greater transparency is the minimum required to start picking up the pieces of this harmful ruling."

Roberts versus Roberts; Just how radical is the chief justice? (The New Republic, 02/17/10)
Jeffrey Rosen: "For the past few years, I’ve been giving Roberts the benefit of the doubt, hoping that he meant it when he talked about the importance of putting the bipartisan legitimacy of the Court above his own ideological agenda. But, while Roberts talked persuasively about conciliation, it now appears that he is unwilling to cede an inch to liberals in the most polarizing cases. If Roberts continues this approach, the Supreme Court may find itself on a collision course with the Obama administration--precipitating the first full-throttle confrontation between an economically progressive president and a narrow majority of conservative judicial activists since the New Deal."

Editorial: A Welcome, if Partial, Fix  (New York Times, 02/17/10)
"[A] sensible way for voters to find out which businesses, or unions, are using their treasuries to promote which candidates.... has become absolutely necessary since the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling last month in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission."

Editorial: Two Democrats' remedy for the high court's campaign finance ruling (Washington Post, 02/16/10)
"The most dangerous aspect of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is that it would let corporations spend money anonymously, by funneling donations through trade associations or other groups that do not have to disclose their donors."

Congress v. Citizens United; Our view: Plan for correcting high court ruling is a start, but more action is needed (Baltimore Sun, 02/15/10)
"The Supreme Court's ruling last month in the Citizens United case has only reinforced the public's growing distrust of the federal government. The point was reinforced last week with the release of a nonpartisan poll that showed voters oppose the court's ruling by a 2-1 margin. That should come as no surprise. Americans favor free speech but are rightly skeptical of treating corporations like people -- as the conservative majority in the 5-4 Citizens United ruling insists the Constitution requires."

Supreme beings: After gutting campaign finance, the high court may go after the Commerce Clause (High Country News, 02/15/10)
Ray Ring: "it raises concerns that the Bold Five might overturn another huge precedent -- the federal government's use of the Constitution's Commerce Clause. That clause, which says the feds can regulate interstate commerce, has been stretched for centuries to become the basis for many federal laws, such as those covering guns, the environment, and worker and consumer protection....Libertarian and rightwing groups are arguing against the Commerce Clause in environmental cases in lower courts, hoping to push it to Roberts' Supreme Court."

Editorial: Another water war (Anniston Star [AL] , 02/13/10)
"It seemed like a minor change at the time, but the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers had the authority to permit an Alaskan gold-mining company to dump 210,000 gallons of waste per day into a lake. The reasoning was it was "filling" the bottom and the Corps could issue fill permits....The Clean Water Act was further weakened when the Supreme Court took many smaller streams out from under its requirements because those streams were not navigable.... The report calls on U.S. senators and representatives from affected areas to support the Clean Water Restoration Act -- which, as the title suggests, is designed to restore the act to its original intent and federal protection to these streams. Alabama's congressional delegation should support this much-needed act."

Former Sen. Warren Rudman: Republicans losing their way on campaign finance reform (Washington Post, 02/05/10)
:Supreme Court opinion notwithstanding, corporations are not defined as people under the Constitution, and free speech can hardly be called free when only the rich are heard. "

Editorial: What Price Politics? (New York Times, 02/05/10)
"A binge of special interest money seems inevitable unless Congress acts quickly — before this year’s election — to repair the damage from the Supreme Court ruling that ended restraints on campaign spending by corporations and unions."

Fill the Bench Now: Now is the time for Obama to move on judicial nominations. (, 02/05/10)
Doug Kendall: "President Obama's spirited response to Citizens United has usefully energized his base. So now let's direct that energy toward the confirmation of more Obama judges. Another reason to take heart: Last year's two major confirmation battles—over Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and 7th Circuit Judge David Hamilton—provided important political victories to the administration."

Our view: Campaign law; Alaska must move swiftly to require full disclosure (Anchorage Daily News [AK] , 02/04/10)
"The court's decision is disturbing for the simple reason that politics is not an abstract exercise or even a free-wheeling discussion around the kitchen table or the coffee pot at work. Effective political freedom of speech is not free, and those with the most money get the most speech with the longest reach. The court has further fortified corporate power and the strength of interest groups that have deep pockets and sometimes narrow agendas."

Editorial: Price of justice: Sandra Day O'Connor and Thomas Moyer share a good idea  (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 02/03/10)
"The ruling in Citizens United adds to the urgency of placing a constitutional amendment on the November ballot, otherwise Ohio risks becoming, once again, a poster child for the influence of big money in state Supreme Court campaigns."

Editorial: Talk about your activist judges!  (Tahlequah Daily Pres [OK] , 02/03/10)
"At least five members of the U.S. Supreme Court have left no doubt that they, despite their own frequent criticism of robed colleagues who would make laws rather than interpret them, are intent on doing that very thing.... Chalk up another win for big money, and another loss for voters. And another piece of evidence that the Supreme Court – at least, in its present incarnation – doesn’t necessarily deserve the respect accorded it."

Editorial: Campaign finance laws need fixing (Muskegon Chronicle [MI] , 02/03/10)
"it appears that multinational corporations controlled by foreigners also will be able to wield influence in U.S. elections for the first time ever — at least legally."

Editorial: Congress must fix high court decision (Gary Post-Tribune [IN], 02/02/10)
"What's worse than their cynicism, though, is the judicial activism of the justices. Not humble enough with the narrow question before them, they asked attorneys to re-argue a larger question -- that of the First Amendment rights of the personhood of corporations."

"Wordless Editorial" (Tucson Citizen [AZ] , 02/02/10)
Unique photo of Supreme Court Justices after corporate campaign finance ruling