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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Letters to the editor: Questions to ask Gorsuch (News Journal (DE), 03/22/17)
Guy VanderLek: I would call on Senator Christopher Coons ask the following questions of the nominee: Do you believe that the Constitution in any way prohibits the President from appointing a SCOTUS justice during his final year in office? Is there any justification for the Senate refusing to hold confirmation hearings for such an appointment? Do you think of the way your Republicans in Congress stonewalled the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland exactly one year ago was just and reasonable?

If You Are LGBTQ in WV, You Should be Concerned about Neil Gorsuch (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 03/22/17)
Op-Ed by Andrew Schneider: When it comes to fairness and equality, Gorsuch’s record is troubling. As a lawyer, scholar, and judge, he has positioned himself as an obstacle to justice and fairness for those seeking relief in court — including LGBTQ people seeking nothing more than the chance to live their lives in peace. It’s because of this reason that I urge Senators Manchin and Capito to vote against Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Court.

Neil Gorsuch Can Get Away with a Lot. Not This. The Constitution: It's kind of important. (Esquire, 03/22/17)
Charles P. Pierce: Gorsuch has been appointed to a seat on the Supreme Court because another man was illegitimately denied even a meeting with Republican legislators. He's been appointed to a seat on the Supreme Court by a president* whose corruption is exceeded only by his ignorance, and whose election was the result of a number of factors, many of them reeking of unresolved shenanigans. Putting him in the center of that dubious process may be the best that the Democrats can do.

Where does Judge Gorsuch stand on limiting the federal government? (The Hill, 03/22/17)
Prof. David Reiss: His opinion in Caring Hearts Personal Home Services v. Burwell describes a federal government that has ceased to function rationally .... Our ninth justice should be one who can craft solutions to our 21st century legal problems that are based on the values embodied in the Constitution, not the facts of life of a bygone era.

Letters to the editor: Vote no on nominee (News Journal (DE), 03/22/17)
Kelly Mahaffey: My heartbreaks thinking Judge Neil Gorsuch could fill the vacant seat on the nation’s highest court. As the mother of two special needs children, I need Senators Carper and Coons to restore my faith and not confirm Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court. In cases involving children with special needs, he’s consistently ruled against those with disabilities – those who need the most protection.

The Problems With Originalism (New York Times, 03/22/17)
Prof. Ken Levy: Originalism is just one of the theories that Judge Gorsuch shares with the late Justice Antonin Scalia; another is its closely related cousin, textualism.... Nowhere does the Constitution explicitly state that textualism, no less originalism or any other method, is the correct theory of constitutional interpretation. Justice Scalia also failed to realize — or at least admit — that textualism and originalism rarely determine a unique outcome for constitutional questions.... they are nothing more than thinly veiled disguises for modern political conservatism.

The Gorsuch Confirmation – Day Three (American Constitution Society Blog, 03/22/17)
Prof. Carolyn Shapiro: Gorsuch repeatedly insisted that (paraphrasing) “there are no Republican or Democratic judges; there are only judges,” that judges’ personal views are irrelevant, etc., etc., This is silly. As Sen. Franken (D-MN) said, if that is so, why is Merrick Garland not on the Supreme Court?

Democrats should make Gorsuch wait. And wait. | Opinion (Sun Sentinel [FL], 03/22/17)
Gary Stein, editorial writer and columnist: What the GOP did to Garland was trashy and rude and despicable — they didn't even give him a hearing ... Democrats should try to stall this as long as they can. Maybe for several months. At least until the FBI finishes its investigation of Trump and his buddies in Russia. If Trump comes out clean, then they can go ahead and take a vote on Gorsuch.... What if he faces possible impeachment? What if he doesn't finish his term? Should he be allowed to pick the Supreme Court justice? I don't think so.

Unanimous Supreme Court Rejects Gorsuch Standard in Disability Rights Case (People For blog, 03/22/17)
Paul Gordon: Judge Gorsuch wrote a panel ruling stating that all the school had to do to fulfill its legal responsibilities is to show “merely more than de minimis” progress. Today, the Supreme Court didn’t just reject this interpretation of a key law protecting children with disabilities—it did so unanimously. In a similar case raising the same issue, Endrew v. Douglas County School District, the justices ruled 8-0 that the law requires more than just the low bar that Gorsuch set for Luke’s school. ... The Court was clear in stating what should have been obvious: "When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing “merely more than de minimis” progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all. For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to sitting idly . . . awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out. The IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] demands more."

If Gorsuch gets through, big business wins (South Jersey Times [NJ], 03/22/17)
Letter to the Editor, Joseph D. Bastrimovich: If anyone thinks Gorsuch, or any judge, doesn't come to the court with an agenda, they are naive or stupid. Business-funded front groups like Judicial Crises Network wouldn't be spending oodles of money toward Gorsuch's confirmation if they didn't expect something from him.

Judge Gorsuch and the Role of Public Interest Litigation in our Democracy (American Constitution Society Blog, 03/22/17)
Prof. Alan K. Chen: the notion that democracy is superior to litigation as a means of social reform overlooks something critical. Litigation itself is a deeply embedded way of participating in our constitutional democracy for the politically powerless.

Neil Gorsuch Is Bad News for the Disabled (Progressive Magazine, 03/22/17)
Mike Ervin: If Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, is confirmed by the Senate, it will be a huge setback for Americans with disabilities. Throughout his judicial career, Gorsuch has exhibited a deep disregard for the rights and well-being of Americans with disabilities. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law analyzed Gorsuch’s voting record and concluded that he has a “consistently narrow view” of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other disability rights laws.

Gorsuch is being cagey about his views on Trump and ethics. That could pose huge problems. (Washington Post, 03/22/17)
Sarah Posner: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, declined to answer questions about the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits a public officeholder from accepting payments from a foreign government or foreign government-owned entity without congressional approval. The questions, from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), highlighted how extraordinarily fraught Gorsuch’s nomination is, as his hearings unfold amid the unprecedented presidential conflicts of interest precipitated by Trump’s refusal to divest from his vast business empire. And these unparalleled circumstances make Gorsuch’s answers — or, more accurately, his evasions — a matter of grave consequence for public confidence in the court’s ability to hold Trump accountable, should it hear any political corruption cases against Trump.

Gorsuch Evades Questions on Children with Disabilities (People For blog, 03/22/17)
Paul Gordon: This morning, a unanimous Supreme Court rejected Judge Neil Gorsuch’s formula that lowers the bar on what schools must do to educate children with disabilities.... The answers to difficult legal questions don’t just magically appear. And neither did any responsive statement by Gorsuch to Senator Durbin’s question. Nor did he respond to Sen. Klobuchar’s follow-up. She pointed out the fallacy of his earlier claim to Sen. Durbin that his decision was based on binding 10th Circuit precedent. She also cited Gorsuch yesterday defending his decision to occasionally write controversial and disturbing concurrences that needlessly address major constitutional issues and urge the reversal of Supreme Court precedent.

Gorsuch’s Legacy, and the Planet’s (New York Times, 03/22/17)
David Leonhardt, Op-Ed columnist: I expect that the climate will end up being a large part of Gorsuch’s legacy if he joins the Supreme Court. He could be the deciding vote on pollution cases that will come before the court in the near future. Longer term, when the country next has a president who takes climate change seriously, many efforts to fight it are likely to end up before the court. Gorsuch is extremely conservative, and the best working assumption is that he will be hostile to environmental regulation. But that’s not the only possibility.

The Supreme Court Just Gutted a Gorsuch Opinion — and Made Him Look Extreme (New York Magazine, 03/22/17)
Ed Kilgore column: Gorsuch’s opinion in Luke P., by contrast, added the word “merely” to this framework. Under Luke P., the benefits offered to a disabled student “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’” That one word effectively transformed the floor that the court placed below disabled students in 1996 into a ceiling. Gorsuch transformed a rule instructing school districts that they must do more than nothing into a rule instructing them that they don’t need to do any more than a little more than nothing.... That Neil Gorsuch, for whatever reason, chose to interpret the law as guaranteeing these kids skimpier services than Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas felt appropriate casts a shadow

Gorsuch hearings: A referendum on Originalism and corporate power (The Hill, 03/22/17)
Danielle McLaughlin: Gorsuch is an Originalist, like Scalia was ... The Founders would likely shudder at the power of corporations in today's America....regular Americans might be the biggest losers if corporations’ rights continue to be expanded by the Roberts court.

Go Ahead, Neil Gorsuch, Tell Us What You Think (Bloomberg News, 03/22/17)
Prof. Noah Feldman: It’s also ridiculous to think that litigants in future Chevron cases would somehow be prejudiced by what Gorsuch has written before or by what he might have said.... As for issues that might come before the court, there’s also no reason for a judge’s views to prejudice outcomes or litigation.

Gorsuch Is Allowed to Answer Questions. He Should Start. His evasive answers indicate that he believes it’s improper to speak of previous Supreme Court cases. He’s wrong. (, 03/22/17)
Profs. Paul M. Collins Jr. and Lori A. Ringhand: nominees do answer questions about past Supreme Court decisions. Indeed, they have in the past. And Gorsuch should too. Two comprehensive studies, each carefully reviewing what actually happens at confirmation hearings, have found that nominees routinely give meaningful answers to questions about important cases.

March 22 Letters: Why Democrats should delay Gorsuch vote (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 03/22/17)
Erin Chalmers: they should agree to hold a vote on his nomination only at such time as all investigations into Russian election meddling are over and if President Trump is cleared. We should not have a potentially illegitimate president making lifetime Supreme Court appointments to the Supreme Court. Democrats should not and cannot filibuster for 2-4 years, but should absolutely do so until these investigations are complete.

Gorsuch is threat to public education: Court nominee's record on school issues merits scrutiny (CommonWealth [MA], 03/22/17)
Opinion by Max McCullough: Gorsuch’s record on education-related cases should raise major concerns about how he may rule in the future if confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Yes, Dems Should Block Gorsuch While the FBI’s Trump Probe Goes on:  Mitch McConnell obstructed not only Obama’s Supreme Court pick but his effort to alert voters about Russian election hacking—inextricably tying these issues together. (Nation, 03/22/17)
Joan Walsh:  the man most responsible for blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court pick also prevented Obama from coordinating a bipartisan warning to the American people about Russian hacking. The Gorsuch confirmation and the Russian hacking issue are inextricably tied—because Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell personally tied them.

[Editorial] Neil Gorsuch Faces the Senate (New York Times, 03/21/17)
"Judge Gorsuch became President Trump’s nominee only after Senate Republicans’ outrageous and unprecedented blockade of Merrick Garland .... there’s little doubt that he would be among the most conservative justices in the court’s modern history, with negative consequences for workers’ rights, women’s reproductive freedom, politics uncorrupted by vast sums of dark money, the separation of church and state, the health of the environment and the protection of the most vulnerable members of society."

Letter to the Editor: Gorsuch (Los Angeles Times, 03/21/17)
Jill Chapin: Thomas Jefferson would beg to differ with Gorsuch's assessment of rigid, inflexible document that Gorsuch presumes our Constitution to be.

Gorsuch Would Use "Originalism" to Affirm Right-Wing Agenda (Truthout, 03/21/17)
Marjorie Cohn: Largely discredited by courts and legal scholars, originalism is ultimately a way to reach a right-wing result under the guise of following the original intent of the authors of the Constitution.... "The bottom line is the views of many self-proclaimed originalists line up, not with those of We the People in 1789, but with those of the right-wing of the Republican Party in 2017," according to Sunstein. "Whether we're speaking of campaign-finance laws, commercial advertising, gun rights, affirmative action, gay rights, property rights or abortion, originalism has failed to prevent judges from voting in accordance with their political predilections."

"Gorsuch's Selective View of 'Religious Freedom'; Trump's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia possesses the same limited view of religious freedom supported by the conservatives currently on the Supreme Court." (Atlantic, 03/21/17)
Prof. Garrett Epps: On the strength of the Hobby Lobby opinion, he seems to think there is no balance: the economically and culturally powerful prevail. If so, this is a serious blind spot: privileging specific beliefs and believers is, in fact, a pernicious spiritual gerrymander—Caesar’s sword closing liberty’s garden to all but a favored few.

The Gorsuch confirmation hearing is about politics, not law (Boston Globe, 03/21/17)
Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist: Supreme Court nominees should be obliged to give substantive answers to serious questions during their confirmation hearings: I’ve pressed that argument in columns over the years, on the grounds that senators can’t fulfill their duty to check and balance the judiciary unless they insist on exploring the constitutional philosophy and legal reasoning of the nominees before them.... Supreme Court justices do legislate. Again and again they render decisions that dramatically shape American law .... Gorsuch should be made to give answers to serious legal questions.... The Supreme Court has never been above politics.

Neil Gorsuch Knows What Dark Money Is, and What That Money Expects of Him: Enough with the absurd notion that the Supreme Court is apolitical. (Esquire, 03/21/17)
Charles P. Pierce: He knows what dark money is. He knows where it comes from. He knows the use to which it is put. And he knows what is expected of him when he is confirmed.

Yes, Judge Gorsuch, there are Republican and Democratic judges (Southern Poverty Law Center, 03/21/17)
Richard Cohen, SPLC President: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch said that there is “no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge – we just have judges in this country.” My guess is that every senator on the Judiciary Committee, particularly the Republicans, knew that what he was saying wasn’t really true, and I’m sure that Judge Gorsuch knew it as well. As an exhaustive study published in 2006 by Cass Sunstein and other distinguished academics demonstrated, judges appointed by Republicans tend to vote differently than judges appointed by Democrats.... t’s because presidents of both parties seek out nominees whose judicial philosophy mirrors their own.... If there were not, Judge Garland would be on the Supreme Court today

Gorsuch an originalist? Senators should make him prove it (Huffington Post, 03/21/17)
Elizabeth B. Wydra, Constitutional Accountability Center: Part of the heavy burden Gorsuch carried into this week’s hearing is his need to prove that he is not – as we discuss in our latest Issue Brief (and echoed by Senator Amy Klobuchar in her first-round questioning) – a “selective originalist” who applies the text and history only of parts of the Constitution he may agree with ideologically, while giving short shrift to the parts he may not agree with.