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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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Violating a Principle on Judicial Nominations  (Justice Watch, 05/23/11)
"When Senator Lamar Alexander said, 'I will not vote to deny a vote to a Democratic president's judicial nominee just because the nominee may have views more liberal than mine,' it was taken as a statement of principle, and a reflection of the belief that the Senate should hold a final yes-or-no vote on every one of a president's judicial nominees. But after Senator Alexander -- and every Republican except Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- voted against a motion to break a filibuster and hold a yes-or-no vote on Liu's nomination, it's clear that Alexander's statement of principle leaves some room for interpretation."

Adventures in Appeals Court Nominations  (Wilderness Letters , 05/23/11)
Somerset: "A president’s judicial nominees must receive at least some deference from senators of the other party. Otherwise, even if the nuclear option were invoked, nominees would only be confirmed when the Senate and the Presidency were held be the same party. This would result in an underpopulated federal bench and an over-politicized nomination process, which would in turn result in reduced access to and trust in the courts. Filibustering of judicial nominees should really only occur in 'extraordinary circumstances' not in cases like Prof. Liu."

Editorial: Trashing of court nominees must end (Des Moines Register [IA], 05/23/11)
"Sadly, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., played a role in defeating the Liu nomination. This is especially disappointing since, as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee - which vets judicial nominees - Grassley could have helped set a new tone on confirmations. He has done just the opposite.... What is most disturbing about Thursday's Senate vote is not the fact that the Senate rejected this nominee, but how it was done: by a filibuster. In other words, the Republicans used the Senate rules to prevent a simple up-or-down vote on the Liu nomination."

Trashing of Court Nominees Must End  (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 05/23/11)
"What is most disturbing about Thursday's Senate vote is not the fact that the Senate rejected this nominee, but how it was done: by a filibuster. In other words, the Republicans used the Senate rules to prevent a simple up-or-down vote on the Liu nomination. . . . This is the very same tactic Republicans (including Grassley) rightly condemned when Democrats filibustered to block Republican nominees. They said that all presidential nominees deserve an up-or-down vote, and they were right then. How soon they forget."

Trashing of court nominees must end (Iowa City Press-Citizen, 05/23/11)
"Liu was given a unanimous 'well qualified' endorsement from the American Bar Association, and his resume bristles with sterling academic and professional credentials. Liu would have been the first Asian-American judge on the 9th Circuit Court."

Nominee blocked (Houston Chronicle, 05/22/11)
Stuart Berger, Letter to the Editor: "Having met Professor Liu as my son's law school classmate and friend, I can attest not only to his brilliance but to his incredible character. The fear of a future Supreme Court appointment should not be a reason not to let a nomination come to the floor. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has done the country a great disservice by his vote against Liu."

Editorial: Breaking Faith: A politically driven filibuster of a sound judicial nominee (New York Times, 05/22/11)
"Mr. Alexander, along with 41 other Senate Republicans, voted to filibuster one of President Obama’s judicial nominees for that very reason — breaking a promise and kindling yet another row over a president’s right to appoint like-minded judges."

Judicial Filibusters: Partisanship Run Amok  (Huffington Post, 05/21/11)
Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone: "If anyone needs proof of how destructively polarized national politics has become, one need only consider yesterday's vote in the Senate on President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to serve on the United States Court of Appeals.... the use of the filibuster to prevent a straight up-or-down vote on a nominee like Goodwin Liu is entirely inappropriate. To justify their behavior, some Republicans invoke the Bork nomination battle as a relevant precedent, but their thinking on that score is completely wrong-headed. Bork was not the target of a filibuster. He was defeated in a straight up-or-down vote of 58 against and 42 in favor. If Liu were given such a vote, he would clearly be confirmed."

Federal judiciary is suffering from far too many vacancies: Dan Aaron Polster (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 05/21/11)
U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster: "Over the past year and a half, 10 percent to 12 percent of the country's 864 authorized Article III judgeships have been vacant. There have been more than 90 vacancies throughout this period, and, at times, more than 100.... I believe that the nomination/confirmation process is broken and that the protracted high vacancy rate is affecting the administration of justice. The old adage "justice delayed is justice denied" rings true in this case."

Editorial: Senate’s shameful return to mass hypocrisy (San Diego Union-Tribune [CA] , 05/21/11)
Senate Republicans’ successful filibuster Thursday of the nomination of UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals marks a return to the days of mass hypocrisy in what is dubiously billed as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” ... Thursday was a shameful day for the Senate.

Hypocrisy and Worse on Liu (Collins Watch: Keeping an eye on Maine's Junior Senator, 05/20/11)
"It is Mr. Liu's views that are far outside the mainstream. His writings demonstrate what National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor calls his 'sweeping vision of court-ordered social justice.' Mr. Liu has written that 'Some [say] that courts...can only do so much to change society, that some things, some problems are best left to politics and not principle....I want to disagree with this view....' In other words, Liu embodies the very essence of judicial activism.' That's the entire substance of the junior senator's critique of Liu. But aren't you just a little bit curious about what Liu said inside those ellipses? ... Does Collins think the desegregation sought by the Brown plaintiffs--which is what Liu is clearly referring to when he alludes to 'chang[ing] society'--should have been denied by the Supreme Court?"

Don’t Speak: If You Want to Be a Judge Someday You’d Better Shut Your Mouth (Center for American Progress, 05/20/11)
Ian Millhiser: "Liu was held to a very different standard by the Senate. The question was no longer whether Liu belongs on the bench—he unambiguously does—but whether his opponents could find a way to distort his many pages of legal scholarship in order to paint him as some kind of radical."

Liu Filibustered: Bork Revisited (Daily Kos, 05/20/11)
"In the end, the Senate rejected Bork's confirmation, with 42 Senators voting in favor and 58 voting against -- but at least he got a straight up-or-down vote on the Senate floor; Goodwin Liu didn't make it that far. . . . Yet another example of present-day Republican obstructionism."

Give Obama an up-or-down vote on Goodwin Liu  (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 05/20/11)
Paul Owens, Editorial blogger: "From a Sentinel editorial on judicial filibusters: The Constitution calls on the president to fill judicial vacancies with the Senate’s “advice and consent.” We believe it’s an excessive encroachment on presidential prerogative for senators to use filibusters or other tactics to block votes on qualified judicial nominees for purely political reasons … The Sentinel must have been talking about Goodwin Liu, President Obama’s liberal nominee for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who was denied a confirmation vote this week through a Republican filibuster, right? Wrong! The editorial appeared in 2005, ... The principle still holds. The Senate owes the president an up-or-down vote on his judicial nominees."

Editorial: Shame on GOP senators who blocked Goodwin Liu (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 05/20/11)
"Fair-minded people who have looked at Liu's record and determined that he has the intellect and temperament to be a superb appellate judge include prominent conservatives Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer in the Bush White House, and Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr. But neither fair play nor intellectual honesty carried the day in the Senate, where Liu's nomination remained bottled up through the efforts of multiple Republicans who had opined (in the Bush years) that it was unconstitutional for senators to deprive a judicial nominee of an up-or-down vote."

Filibuster of Goodwin Liu Highlights Government's Diversity Problem  (Hyphen Asian American Unabridged , 05/20/11)
Robin Lapid: "Liu was the unfortunate victim of party politics, but the failure to get him on the US Circuit Court of Appeals is a dispiriting sign of something else: as America gets more and more diverse, its representatives in government -- from their policies to their ethnic background -- remain stridently out of touch. . . . This week's filibuster sent a message that substantial experience and careful examination of our Constitution does not make you qualified by government standards. Even worse, it sends the message that, despite having our first person of color in the White House, the representation of our elected officials from a perspective of ethnic, gender and other backgrounds looks pallid at best."

Playing the identity politics game (Washington Monthly, 05/20/11)
Steve Benen: "In a disheartening display, Senate Republicans blocked a vote on judicial nominee Goodwin Liu yesterday, despite repeated public assurances that they would never, ever do such a thing."

Grassley's Manzanar-like reaction to Goodwin Liu (Under the Golden Dome: A Fresh Look Inside Iowa Politics, 05/20/11)
Samuel J Kirkwood: "Just yesterday, Chuck Grassley made a statement that made my jaw drop about Ninth Circuit judicial nominee, Goodwin Liu. He said on the floor of the Senate, “Does [Liu] think we’re the communist-run China? That the government runs everything?” First off, Grassley needs to tone down the knee-jerk comparison of Asian-Americans to communists in China....Second, Liu is the child of Taiwanese immigrants. ... Finally, Grassley was taking a 2005 op-ed written by Liu completely out of context."

Why Mitch McConnell Should Heed His Own Advice  (The Silly Season Blog , 05/19/11)
"There's certainly an argument that filibustering of judicial appointments is unconstitutional. The judicial nomination process is the only process in which all three branches of government are necessarily involved. The stranglehold of 40 senators over the other two branches' structural right to operate seems like an imbalance not intended by the framers. Whereas most inter-branch controversies are not amenable to suits, Goodwin Liu might actually have standing against the Senators holding his nomination (or conspiring to hold it), who are irreparably damaging his career prospects."

Confirm Goodwin Liu  (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 05/19/11)
Opinion by Audrey Barron: "I am surprised to read news accounts of Republican threats to filibuster Liu’s nomination. Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch have both previously stated that they oppose the use of a filibuster for judicial nominees. I call on Hatch and Lee to stand by their word and to vote for cloture on this outstanding nominee."

Playing Hardball with Goodwin Liu, or the Gang of 14 Deal Implodes  (Balkinization, 05/19/11)
Jack Balkin: "The gang of 14 arrangement was that Senators from both parties would arrange their votes on cloture so that judicial nominees who got out of committee would proceed to a final vote and there would be no filibusters except in 'extraordinary circumstances.' That meant a really objectionable candiate, for example, somebody way out of the mainstream. . . . Goodwin Liu is nothing like this. He's no more liberal than Bush appointees who have sailed through are conservative. In fact, I'd say he's more moderate in some respects."

[Senators beliefs on the Constitution & judicial nominee filibusters] (Fox News, 05/19/11)
"A expert in the area of federal judicial selection, attorney Glenn Sugameli, questioned both Thune and Isakson this time around. "Do Sens. Thune and Isakson think the Constitution has been amended recently to allow filibusters of judicial nominees? They insisted the Constitution requires up or down votes for all judicial nominees in major 2005 Floor speeches, which Sen. Isakson reiterated two weeks ago.""

Bipartisan Calls to Support Liu Nomination; Reports Suggest Some Republicans Prepared to Block Vote  (American Constitution Society Blog, 05/19/11)
ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson decried the Senate’s obstruction of judicial nominations, noting that vacancies on the federal bench are at nearly 100. “For too long,” Fredrickson said, “some senators have chosen meritless obstruction of some judicial nominees over a fully functioning court system.

‘I would never filibuster any president’s judicial nominee’ (Washington Monthly, 05/19/11)
Steve Benen: A total of 43 senators — including 42 Republicans — successfully filibustered Goodwin Liu’s judicial nomination this afternoon. With that in mind, it’s worth noting what many of these same senators used to say about this practice before there was a Democratic president. For some, their own actions today weren’t just wrong; they were literally unconstitutional.[quotes Senators] Glenn Sugameli, a staff attorney at Judging the Environment, and my go-to guy on matters related to judicial nominees, said in a statement, “The depths of partisan, unprincipled hypocrisy were plumbed by the many Republican Senators who voted to filibuster Goodwin Liu’s nomination after denouncing all such filibusters and insisting the Constitution requires up-or-down votes for all judicial nominees.”

Flashback: GOP Senators Claim Filibusters of Judicial Nominees are Unconstitutional (People For blog, 05/19/11)
"In 2005, when a handful of President Bush’s nominees faced filibusters, at least 12 current U.S. senators said that preventing judicial nominees from getting up-or-down votes isn’t just wrong: it’s unconstitutional. The impending cloture vote on the Liu nomination will be an important test to separate those senators who stand on principle from those who put politics above all else." [quotes many Senators]

Goodwin Liu Nomination Looks Endangered, With Cloture Vote Today (Firedoglake, 05/19/11)
David Dayen: trying to force Republicans to be as good as their past statements about filibustering judicial nominations.[quotations] Unfortunately, consistency isn’t the Republicans’ strong suit. Graham, Isakson and McCain – and in all likelihood, Kyl, Hatch, Sessions and the other Judiciary Republicans as well – will vote against cloture today."

Federal Judgeships: Active Scholars Need Not Apply? (American Constitution Society Blog, 05/19/11)
Adam Winkler, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law: "The message for law professors from these examples is clear: if you want to become a judge one day, don’t write too much, write on non-controversial topics, and watch what you say at speaking events. The world is watching."

Tit For Tat  (Fair and Unbalanced blog, 05/19/11)
"Remember when Republicans were adamant about ensuring that judicial nominees received an "up or down" vote? In those days the Democrats had been using the filibuster effectively to thwart some of George W. Bush's more extreme judicial appointments. ... That was then, this is now. Goodwin Liu's nomination to sit on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was successfully filibustered today, with only one Republican voting to end debate on the nomination and allow an up or down vote."