Editorials and Opinion
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."
[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, 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
[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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
[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."
Benson: Take the Gorsuch bull by the horns (Arizona Republic, 04/04/17)
Steve Benson, Arizona Republic cartoon: He may act coy, but Democrats see the real Neil Gorsuch: ... Republicans have threatened to go nuclear to put their raging bull into the Supreme Court's china shop.
Letter: Gorsuch has record against rights of people (Coloradoan, 04/04/17)
Mary Roberts, NOCO NOW: Neil Gorsuch’s judicial record shows he has a long history of hostility towards the claims of workers, consumers, children, immigrants, LGBTQIA people, incarcerated people, people with disabilities, and others seeking protection from the privileged and powerful.
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.
How Gorsuch Could Pull the Eight Other Justices Rightward (New York Times, 04/04/17)
Justin Wolfers: If Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed to the Supreme Court, he will become not only the ninth vote in a divided court but also a new colleague with the potential to move his eight peers in a conservative direction. A compelling new analysis suggests that this kind of peer effect may even be more consequential than a justice’s own vote.
This means that the stakes over who fills the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia are higher than is widely understood.
Change the nominee (The Hill, 04/04/17)
Mark Mellman; Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) could not be more right: “When a nominee doesn’t get 60 votes, you shouldn’t change the rules, you should change the nominee,” he said.... A supermajority of the electorate clearly backs a supermajority to confirm a Supreme Court nomination.
Commentary: Maine Sen. Angus King must oppose Gorsuch confirmation to Supreme Court: Judge Neil Gorsuch comes from the corporate world and has long demonstrated a pro-corporate bias.. (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/04/17)
ROBERT A.G. MONKS: three out of four voters (77 percent) want the Senate to reject any Supreme Court nominee who will help the wealthy and privileged wield more power in our elections. Every indication is that President Trump’s nominee for the nation’s highest court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, will do just that. Gorsuch comes from the corporate world and has shown a consistent pro-corporate bias cloaked in a cold judicial calculus that would make cost-benefit ratios the language of the land, with little place left for human concerns.
It’s no wonder then that dark money groups, financed by secretive billionaires, have spent $17 million to blockade Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination and ram through Gorsuch – a man pre-selected by the right-wing, billionaire-backed Federalist Society.... I’m glad King is taking on this important issue through legislation, but if he wants to act right now to make sure our elections are transparent and accountable, his best opportunity is to oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and support a 60-vote standard for his approval. Both Gorsuch’s record on money in politics and his answers during his confirmation hearing reveal a troubling disregard for common-sense campaign finance laws, especially in the area of transparency in political spending.
Maine Sens. Should Oppose Gorsuch (Times Record [ME], 04/04/17)
Lisa Wesel, Letter to the Editor: I am writing to strongly urge senators Collins and King to vote against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. We need a Supreme Court justice who will defend the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves—students with disabilities... While Gorsuch was testifying at his own confirmation hearing, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned one of his most egregious rulings: that public schools need only provide disabled students with educational progress that is “barely more than de minimis,” meaning slightly more than none at all.
Planned Parenthood exec: Gorsuch is a poor choice: Be Fearless (Colorado Springs Independent, 04/04/17)
Sarah Taylor-Nanista: Our opposition is on behalf of our clients – as a health care provider to tens of thousands, we believe that Judge Gorsuch has taken active stands that give corporations religious rights over individual’s access to birth control (Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell). He has refused to answer crucial constitutional questions or elaborate on his judicial philosophy during his hearing in the Senate.
Letter: A question hangs over Neil Gorsuch: Is he fair? (Chicago Tribune, 04/04/17)
Joe English: There is no question Gorsuch is conservative. But thoughtful?
Of the seven judges who ruled in the case of Alphonse Maddin, only one — Gorsuch — ruled against him. ... Is it fair to expect a truck driver to freeze to death? Is it thoughtful?
Gorsuch does not have the judgment to sit on our nation's highest court.
Condemnations of the Nuclear Option, Even in Red States (People For blog, 04/04/17)
Paul Gordon: As Mitch McConnell decides whether to try to exercise the nuclear option, influential newspapers across the country—even in the reddest of red states—are urging Senate Republicans not to take that path. This includes newspapers that have endorsed Gorsuch but would rather see him replaced as the nominee than be confirmed through a partisan change in Senate rules.... As all these editorial boards say, exercising the nuclear option would do immense damage to the nation.
Filibuster Gorsuch, for children’s sake (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/04/17)
Linda Ellis, Letter to the Editor: Past articles and interviews showed him to be quite opinionated about corporate proceedings and the Constitution; however, in the congressional interviews he was evasive to the point that he did not relay a sense of nonpartisan honesty.
Never Forget Merrick Garland: Why Democrats have to go through with a filibuster of Neil Gorsuch. (Slate.com, 04/04/17)
Jim Newell: When a reporter asked McCain, who was about to step into a Senate elevator, if this was the beginning of the end of the institution as we know it, he said, flatly, “Yes.” ... Not all Republicans are comfortable saying to reporters that yes, they will vote to change the rules to get Gorsuch through. ... This was a stolen seat, and Neil Gorsuch is no friend to those who possess a liberal view of government.
Letter to the editor: Sixty-vote rule on court nominees provides essential balance (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/04/17)
Sharon McDonnell: Given the deeply partisan judicial record of Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, should reject his nomination and call for a new nominee or consider Judge Merrick Garland. King should join a filibuster, and Collins should, at the very least, reject efforts to change the cloture rule requiring 60 votes to end debate on Supreme Court nominations.... Gorsuch ruled that a company was in its rights to fire a trucker because he made a choice to avoid potentially freezing to death; he denied the right of a student with autism to get the educational support he needed; and he’s argued for a judicial philosophy that would make it harder for agencies to enforce environmental laws and other statutes.
Given this record, Senate Democrats are warranted in their plans to filibuster.... the moderate thing for Collins to do would be to vote against this “nuclear” rule change.
Letter to the editor: For many reasons, Judge Gorsuch deserves to be filibustered (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/04/17)
Toby Hollander, Esq. I write to support a filibuster of the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, both because a filibuster is appropriate and because, in my view, Judge Gorsuch is not qualified .... First, this nomination was “stolen” from the previous president by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who refused to even give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing or a vote.... Neil Gorsuch is also a judge who obviously lacks even an ounce of compassion. In the “frozen trucker” case, he justified the firing of a trucker who drove himself to safety in subzero (i.e., life-threatening) temperatures .... He did the same thing with disabled children, ignoring the intent of a statute that is designed to provide a reasonable education for children with disabilities.
How to End the Politicization of the Courts (New York Times, 04/04/17)
David Leonhardt, Op-Ed Columnist: Republicans have taken a much more aggressive, politicized approach to the courts than Democrats. The evidence:
Republicans have been bolder about blocking Democratic nominees than vice versa.... The gap between the parties would be even larger if Democrats hadn’t eliminated the filibuster on lower-court nominees in 2013, allowing Barack Obama finally to fill more judgeships. Even so, Trump has inherited a huge number of vacancies.... Republican nominees have been less centrist than Democratic nominees.... The Republicans’ strategy has been straightforward. They have tried to deny Democratic presidents a chunk of judgeships, hoping the nominations will roll over.... The strategy reached its apex last year, when the Senate blocked Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy, even with the highly qualified, and notably moderate, Garland. It was unprecedented. Republicans set out to flip a seat and succeeded. Now the Senate is preparing to confirm Gorsuch, likely to be another historically conservative justice.... Democrats are right to force McConnell to be the one who takes the partisan step of eliminating the Supreme Court filibuster. Likewise, Democrats should be aggressive in blocking Trump nominees to lower courts.... The country won’t return to a less politicized judiciary until both parties have reason to want it.