Editorials and Opinion
GOP goes 'nuclear' and permanently damages Senate, Supreme Court (The Hill, 04/06/17)
Maria T. Cardona: Republicans went “nuclear” today by changing the procedures of the Senate in order to confirm Neil Gorsuch by a mere simple majority of senators instead of adhering to a 60-vote threshold needed to invoke cloture. ... Republicans only have themselves to blame and will be the sole owners of this sad legacy.... the wait time for President Obama‘s first-term circuit and district court nominees from nomination to confirmation was more than half a year, a record median wait time as compared to nominees under any other President.
If Democrats wanted to fill important vacancies on the nation’s critical appellate courts, changing the rules was going to be their only option. ... Unlike Merrick Garland, Neil Gorsuch is not a moderate, consensus candidate.
Going Nuclear Will Make Things Worse: Nixing the filibuster will deepen Senate partisanship. (U.S. News & World Report, 04/06/17)
Prof. Lauren Bell: Eliminating the supermajority cloture requirement, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will do in order to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, will further harm the Senate as an institution and reduce its capacity to function as an essential part of our government....Continuing to chip away at the minority party's rights in the Senate will not serve either party, or the country, well in the long run.
[Editorial] Senate should first give Judge Garland a hearing (Anniston Star [AL] , 04/06/17)
"Garland never received a hearing or a vote. It’s like Senate Republicans went on strike for almost a whole year, refusing to do a job required by the U.S. Constitution.
The way forward that pays tribute to the Senate’s rules and procedures seems obvious. Before taking up Trump’s nominee, the Senate should give Garland a hearing and a vote before the full Senate. ... Senators of both parties who wish to avoid the nuclear option should press for a vote for Garland before taking up Trump’s nominee."
The Gorsuch filibuster is about far more than payback (Washington Post, 04/06/17)
E.J. Dionne Jr. column: At the root of this fight is a long-term conservative effort to dominate the Supreme Court and turn it to the political objectives of the right.
This is thus about far more than retaliation, however understandable, for the Senate Republicans’ refusal to give even a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat Gorsuch would fill. Behind the current judicial struggle lies a series of highly politicized Supreme Court rulings.... Bush v. Gore had consequences for the court itself, because Bush got to pick two Supreme Court justices.... Roberts and Alito voted with the 5-to-4 majority in Citizens United that overturned decades of law and precedent to widen the gates to big money in campaigns. Then, in 2013, they were integral to another 5-to-4 decision, Shelby County, that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Many Republican-controlled states rushed in with new laws, including voter ID requirements, that impeded access to the ballot by African Americans and other minorities. You do not have to believe in conspiracies to see how Shelby County and Citizens United fit together. In tandem, they empowered the most privileged parts of our society and undercut the rights of those who had historically faced discrimination and exclusion. They also tilted the electoral playing field toward Republicans and the right.... From now on, conservatives must encounter tough resistance as they try to turn the highest court in the land into a cog in their political machine.
Parents should be concerned about Gorsuch's opinions (Cincinnati Enquirer [OH] , 04/06/17)
Michelle Dillingham: Cincinnati families need to know that a judge who has consistently ruled against rights and protections for students with disabilities may be appointed to the Supreme Court, where the final judgment in all cases involving laws of Congress, such as IDEA, are decided.... Cincinnati families deserve a Supreme Court justice who will uphold the civil rights of children with disabilities, not rule against them.
Bill Price: Sens. Manchin, Capito should vote no on Gorsuch (Gazette) (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 04/06/17)
Bill Price, Sierra Club: Judge Gorsuch appears to be as hostile to citizen enforcement as Scalia, if not more so. On three separate occasions, he has denied access to the courts for environmental groups to federal courts, relying on cramped views of what it takes to establish access to the federal courts. He has written about his disdain for public interest litigation, a dangerous view of the environmental laws that have safeguarded this country’s air, water and wilderness from devastating harms.
Tester: Gorsuch would not answer important questions (Missoulian [MT], 04/06/17)
Sen. Jon Tester, Guest column: After meeting with Judge Neil Gorsuch face-to-face, giving him a fair hearing and reviewing his qualifications, I cannot support his confirmation.... I cannot support a nominee who refuses to answer important questions.
With Gorsuch on the bench, I’m deeply concerned that dark money will continue to drown out the voices and votes of citizens, the court will stand between women and their doctors, and the government will reach into the private lives of law-abiding Americans.... not only does Gorsuch think corporations have the same rights as people, in Hobby Lobby he decided that the rights of a corporation outweighed the rights of Montana women.... Gorsuch has argued for a narrow interpretation of the Fourth Amendment which could subject Montanans to government overreach.
McConnell: ‘Nuclear option’ helps Senate. McCain: ‘Whoever says that is a stupid idiot.’ (Washington Post, 04/06/17)
Paul Kane: “Idiot, whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I’ve been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions,” McCain said Wednesday, recalling past efforts to defuse these judicial confirmation wars. “And they are stupid and they’ve deceived their voters because they are so stupid.”... “This is a body blow to the institution, and I think we’re on a slippery slope,” McCain said.... Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, agrees with Lott’s prediction. In a little-noticed floor speech, Corker blasted unnamed senators who said the 2013 nuclear option by Democrats to end most filibusters on nominees and the pending Republican step were not bad for the Senate.... He recounted how, after Democrats first triggered the nuclear option to end filibusters on most nominees, the Senate practically stopped working.
“There were days — not days, months — where people who had normally worked with people on the other side of the aisle just kind of shut down. It was hard to believe the nuclear option had been invoked,” Corker said.
Now, the sides have changed. McConnell has gone from hating the filibuster (2005) to supporting it (2013) to again trying to abolish it (2017) — an evolving set of positions that correlate with which party had the majority.
[Editorial] A death knell for bipartisanship (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/06/17)
"The U.S. Senate has long prided itself as a deliberative body, less partisan than the House and more devoted to consensus.
That tradition is in tatters after Republicans forced through a rules change Thursday so on Friday they can confirm Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee. Instead of requiring a supermajority of 60 votes to cut off filibusters and move to an up-or-down vote, it now only takes a simple majority of 51 votes.
It’s called the “nuclear option,” and for good reason. It obliterated whatever bipartisanship was left, and the fallout will be felt for years to come. The rules change applies to future Supreme Court nominees, further politicizing the high court.... Republicans are more responsible recently.
They routinely blocked Barack Obama’s nominees for federal judgeships when Democrats controlled the Senate, so in 2013, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada invoked the nuclear option for judicial nominees and executive appointments.
Then when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly last year, Republicans stole the lifetime appointment from Obama."
Tester, Not Daines, Sides With 75 Percent Of Montanans On Gorsuch Vote (Montana Public Radio, 04/05/17)
Evan Barrett: Montana’s two U.S. Senators are split on the vote to confirm or not confirm Neil Gorsuch as the next lifetime member of the US Supreme Court. Senior Senator Jon Tester has decided to vote against confirmation, citing Gorsuch’s propensity to judge cases in a way that empowers corporations over individuals. ... Senator Tester’s opposition to Gorsuch based on this is consistent with the position held by 75% of Montanans when they voted on these very questions on a ballot issue in 2012.... All the while Daines maintained his record-setting obstructionism on Merrick Garland for the last 8 months, he was silent on the “most important” issue of the American people deserving “nine members on the Supreme Court.”
Letter: Mitch McConnell’s blame game (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 04/05/17)
Kendall Robins: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening to exercise the nuclear option if the Democrats filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, and then says it will be on the Democrats if he does so.
That's just like a kidnapper threatening to kill the kid if the parents don't pay up, and then saying that the resulting murder would be the fault of the parents.
And, it's ironic that McConnell is still seething over the Democrats going nuclear on federal judge nominations, which was in response to McConnell clearly declaring 100 percent obstruction to anything and everything Barack Obama wanted to do, even if it was a good idea. And, it was McConnell who denied Obama, our duly elected president, any consideration at all for his nomination of Merrick Garland.
[Editorial] No to Gorsuch (Rutland Herald [VT] , 04/05/17)
"Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders are willing to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, offended by the candidate’s evasiveness and alarmed by his ideological rigidity.... If they give in to McConnell they will have retained the right to filibuster but would have lost the power to exercise it. Instead, they would have surrendered to one of the most egregious power grabs in the nation’s history, allowing the Republicans to place their stamp on the judiciary in order to impose an agenda on the nation that the nation has shown no indication it supports.... The refusal of the Republicans to allow even a hearing on President Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court showed that they were willing to scoff at their own constitutional obligations in service of their ideological and economic loyalties.
Gorsuch’s refusal to answer even the most basic questions about his thinking was an expression of the same contempt for Congress that McConnell displayed in refusing to allow a hearing for Garland. Gorsuch’s affable muteness sent a message: I am above the people and their concerns. I have no responsibility to anyone but the narrow band of millionaires and ideologues who have advanced my nomination and to the president who has declared war on the American government.
Much is at stake with the Gorsuch nomination. His own rulings suggest he adheres to a view that the high court went astray in the 1930s in decisions allowing the federal government to give rule-making power to agencies established to protect workers, consumers, investors, air, water, the purity of food and drugs.... Leahy and Sanders are taking a necessary and principled stand against the Republican effort to steal a seat on the Supreme Court.
Editorial: America needs supermajority Supreme Court opinions (Grand Forks Herald [ND], 04/05/17)
"It's called the "nuclear option" for a reason. When Senate Republicans blast open a Democratic filibuster this week and confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the move will lay waste to a long tradition.
And when the smoke clears, we'll see a much more fractured Senate."
Letter to the Editor, April 5 (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 04/05/17)
John Denham: I am sick and tired of the Democrats and others allowing the bullies in Washington to set the rules. Republicans stole the pick for Supreme Court justice, and Democrats stood around being civil. Now it appears that The Chronicle is suggesting that the Senate allow Neil Gorsuch to go through without a fight. Democrats must filibuster ... If Republicans change the rules, they will have cheated
Polarizing politics begets ‘nuclear option’: Editorial (Poughkeepsie Journal [NY] , 04/05/17)
"President Obama picked an eminently qualified judge to serve on the high court, but Senate Republicans refused to extend Merrick B. Garland a confirmation hearing. They indefensibly let that linger for 293 days, leaving a Supreme Court seat vacant following the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Democrats haven’t forgotten. Some contend Republicans are essentially stealing Garland’s seat, and they add that Gorsuch has refused to address questions on a host of important issues ... Considering these are lifetime appointments involving some of the most powerful people in the world, retaining the 60-vote, supermajority threshold for Supreme Court nominees would make considerable sense. It provides, among other things, a measure of bipartisan validation in a country deeply divided."
The debate over confirming Gorsuch to the Supreme Court (Washington Post, 04/05/17)
Steven Rathjen, Letter to the Editor: the battle to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and the debate over changing Senate rules to do so. The larger issue is the desire to fill each vacancy with a partisan jurist who will ensure that court decisions support the current majority party’s ideology. ... eliminating the requirement for a nominal 60-vote consensus in the Senate for confirmation of Supreme Court justices likely would mean confirming future justices from the ideological extremes. That would lead to a perceived lack of objectivity by the court, calling into question its role as the legitimate interpreter of the Constitution and final independent arbiter of our laws.
It is essential that our democracy have a strong, independent and unbiased Supreme Court to serve as the venue of last resort for those seeking justice and to prevent overreach by the legislative and executive branches of government. A consensus membership on the court is necessary to ensure this happens.
Will All Senate Republicans Kowtow to Trump and the Far Right on the Nuclear Option? (Huffington Post, 04/05/17)
Elliot Mincberg, People For the American Way: in the past, Republican senators like Collins, Graham, and McCain were willing to stand up to a Republican president and the far Right.... It is clear that these Republican senators, as well as others who have sought to work across the aisle like Corker, Alexander, Heller, and Flake, have a choice. If only three refuse to vote for the nuclear option, it will fail and the Gorsuch nomination will not go forward. In the first few months of the Trump administration, when the initial nomination of a secretary of labor and the appointment of the national security advisor failed, Trump put forth a different nominee who, while conservative, was clearly less objectionable. The same could happen with respect to the Supreme Court. That happened years ago when the Senate rejected the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork, and President Reagan instead nominated Anthony Kennedy. More recently, President Clinton decided not to nominate his first choice for the Supreme Court, Bruce Babbitt, based on the advice of Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Republican Orrin Hatch, and instead selected a nominee who Hatch had suggested.
[Editorial] Filibuster Gorsuch to make a crucial point (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 04/05/17)
"South Carolina’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, led the charge in denying Merrick Garland a hearing after then-President Obama nominated Garland for the Supreme Court seat that needed to be filled in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr underscored just how extreme the GOP has become when he declared that even if Hillary Clinton won the presidency, he would “do everything I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an opening on the Supreme Court.”
He also bragged that he was already responsible for the longest judicial vacancy ever by denying the confirmation of an Obama nominee in the eastern district of North Carolina, illustrating just why Democrats felt the need to use the nuclear option for lower court appointments when they were in control. They did so in response to a Republican Party that routinely filibustered Obama nominees. While they haven’t gotten as much attention, that tactic left dozens of empty judicial seats throughout the country that can now be filled by President Donald Trump.... If Democrats simply went along and acted as though the GOP’s purposeful decision to leave the Supreme Court short-handed for a year was a legitimate exercise of political power, they would unwittingly be codifying that extremism.
And that would not be good for either party – or the country."
Letter to the editor: Collins hypocritical in attacking Democrats’ filibuster (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/05/17)
Hani Jarawan: During the Obama presidency, the Republican Party ground the Senate to a halt by blocking everything. They left hundreds of lower court seats vacant. ... Not only did Susan Collins not criticize her party’s leadership for setting filibuster records, she also joined in that callow, historic obstruction. Her lame indignation about Democrats’ opposition to Neil Gorsuch is yet more evidence that decades of Washington partisanship have spoiled the senator’s moderation.
Chuck Grassley Gives a History Un-Lesson on Judges (People For blog, 04/05/17)
Paul Gordon: During the eight years President Clinton served in office, more than 60 of his circuit and district court nominees became victims of the Republicans’ “pocket filibuster.” ... George W. Bush took office, at which point Republicans spent eight years demanding that all judicial nominees receive floor votes.
But the minute it was a Democratic president again, the GOP went back into obstruction mode. ... Republicans exercised every procedural trick in the book to slow down the confirmation process for all judicial nominees, regardless of level (circuit or district), regardless of support from home state Republicans, and even regardless of a complete lack of opposition at all.... Republicans escalated their war even further when Grassley himself announced that he and his party would refuse to allow President Obama to fill any of the three vacancies on the 11-member D.C. Circuit. ... As Rep. Adam Schiff of California said: “When McConnell deprived President Obama of a vote on Garland, it was a nuclear option. The rest is fallout.”... Less than three months into the Trump administration, with only one nominee, Republicans are threatening to change the rules for Supreme Court nominees.
Gorsuch nomination (Capital Gazette [MD], 04/05/17)
Debra Connors, Letter to the Editor: Dear U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen:... Gorsuch's extreme record has left him short of the 60 votes traditionally required to close debate and vote on a Supreme Court nominee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to get this extreme nominee confirmed this Friday, before senators have to answer to their constituents over the upcoming recess. McConnell knows he's short of the votes he needs and wants to invoke the "nuclear option" and change 230 years of Senate precedent to eliminate the filibuster and ram Gorsuch through.... Encourage your Republican Senate friends to back away from the nuclear option. If their Supreme Court nominee is so extreme that he can't get to 60 votes, you don't change the rules, you change the nominee!
[Editorial] McConnell reaps harvest of division (Lexington Herald-Leader [KY], 04/05/17)
"During his years as minority leader, McConnell wielded Senate rules, such as the 60-vote requirement, like no one ever before. McConnell’s goal: block President Barack Obama’s appointments and legislative agenda. Last year, as majority leader, McConnell refused to give Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland so much as a hearing on the invented grounds that the appointment rightfully belonged to the next president.
Interestingly, McConnell refused during a Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press” to support formalizing his invented rule .... he has only his past actions to blame for Democrats’ stubbornness. ... Democrats, logically enough, think that easing Gorsuch’s confirmation would reward McConnell’s intransigence on the Obama nominee.... McConnell was so effective at blocking Obama’s nominees that President Donald Trump inherited almost twice as many judicial vacancies (an estimated 103) as Obama did (53).
Eroding the 60-vote requirement, also known as the filibuster, does alter the nature of the Senate in ways that McConnell once decried. The Senate would become less consenus-oriented and deliberative .... The objections to Gorsuch are rooted in substance not politics alone. The Coloradan came off less qualified in person than on paper. His record reflects an intemperate zeal to dismantle protections for workers, consumers, clean water and air.... McConnell, who perfected the obstructionist model, is reaping what he sowed."
No on Gorsuch (Green Valley [AZ] News & Sun, 04/05/17)
Gail Vanderhoof, Letter to the Editor: I am deeply concerned about Neil Gorsuch becoming a Supreme Court judge. His record shows that he would expand unpopular Citizens United (billionaires and corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections). His record reveals he is a far right-wing judge .... The Democrats will filibuster. If the Republicans cannot find 60 votes, they should, with honor, choose another candidate. If Republicans confirm Gorsuch using the so-called nuclear option, it will look to the world like they have become an anti-democratic rubber stamp for Trump.
Opinion: Does Business Have a Pal in Neil Gorsuch? (National Law Journal, 04/05/17)
Judith Schaeffer: the “business community … sees much to like in Gorsuch’s record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit,” and that in “addition to areas including arbitration and regulation, they see a judge who favors cramped interpretations of laws that are supposed to protect workers and others."
The Underrated Reason Republicans Will Regret The Nuclear Option (Huffington Post, 04/04/17)
Christopher Kang: Retaining the 60-vote threshold would preserve the unique nature of the Senate that encourages broader consensus and less extremism. There also is a concern—on both sides—that reducing the confirmation threshold to a simple majority could lead to more ideological Supreme Court Justices and a more polarized Court.
Those are compelling reasons in themselves, but there also is a far more practical question that Republicans must consider: How will Senate Democrats respond to this historic power grab? If Democrats follow the Republican response in 2013, it will freeze the Senate for thousands of hours, preventing Republicans from advancing their agenda.
In November 2013, Senate Democrats invoked the nuclear option to lower the confirmation threshold for lower court and executive branch nominees. In response, over the next 13 months, Republicans forced Democrats to file cloture on 154 nominees, and they forced 131 cloture votes.... if Senate Democrats simply responded to the nuclear option in the same way that Republicans did in 2013—forcing cloture votes on 131 nominations—that would use nearly 4,000 hours of floor time. And given the higher stakes of applying the nuclear option to the Supreme Court, you could imagine their response may be even greater.... Democratic Leader Schumer instead is focused on avoiding the nuclear option through a reasonable path forward: encouraging President Trump to seek the advice of Senate Democrats and Republicans in finding a mainstream nominee. As he has said repeatedly, don’t change the rules, change the nominee.
Michael Bennet’s decision to not join Neil Gorsuch filibuster (3 letters) (Denver Post [CO] , 04/04/17)
Gayle Lieban: Until an independent investigation into allegations of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia and Russia’s interference in our election have been concluded, no lifetime nominee should be considered. For Republicans to use the “nuclear option” to confirm Gorsuch, forever changing the rules of the Senate, is shortsighted and irresponsible.