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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Coalition Delivers 1 Million+ Petitions to #StopGorsuch (People For blog, 03/15/17)
Rio Tazewell: This morning Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey joined activists and representatives from multiple organizations to deliver more than one million petition signatures opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. ... Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Richard Blumenthal held a press conference this morning with individuals harmed by Judge Gorsuch’s decisions, demonstrating the negative real-life implications for working Americans. Also, this week a letter signed by more than 120 organizations was delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and tomorrow a coalition of groups is holding a call-in day encouraging members to call their senators and voice their opposition to Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Powerful Stories from Those Harmed by Neil Gorsuch (People For blog, 03/15/17)
Paul Gordon: The decade-long judicial career of Neil Gorsuch is littered with the lives damaged by his approach to the law that favors corporations and the powerful over everyday Americans. Three of those people spoke out this morning at a press conference on Capitol Hill to tell their first-hand stories of how Gorsuch’s ideological approach to the law has harmed them.

The conundrum of consumer, employment arbitration clauses (Buffalo Law Journal [NY], 03/15/17)
Richard Griffin & Aaron Rubin: Many Americans are increasingly being forced to agree to one-sided contracts that prevent them from going to court altogether — e.g., various consumer and employee agreements which mandate that any disputes related to employment or the consumer relationship must be decided by a private arbitrator and prevent the convening of a class action.... President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has written only sparingly about the Federal Arbitration Act. Whether or not he proves as strident an advocate for arbitration as Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s arbitration-friendly majority will likely be restored should the Senate confirm him.

Letter: Gorsuch nomination stolen from Garland (Columbus Dispatch [OH], 03/15/17)
John L Tripp, Letter to the Editor: Don't you think it's ironic that the Republicans will get their Supreme Court justice who interprets the Constitution literally only because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ignored the Constitution in refusing to perform his Constitutional duty and hold hearings and a vote re: Judge Merrick Garland's nomination by President Barack Obama? ... given that his nomination was stolen from Garland, his will not be a legitimate seat on the court.

Restoring Judicial Independence (American Constitution Society Blog, 03/15/17)
Caroline Fredrickson: Trump's selection process for a Supreme Court nominee was unprecedented. There are real concerns raised by the litmus tests that the president promised that his judicial nominee has met. Gorsuch’s record on the bench demonstrates a departure from decades of precedent. At the same time, there is information about the judge's time at the Department of Justice that is still unknown despite repeated requests for information. Add to this nomination process the fact that Gorsuch was selected by a president with numerous constitutional challenges that are already being disputed in court.... We need to ensure that senator’s questions are answered, and next week’s confirmation hearing is an important part in restoring transparency.

Judge Gorsuch failed our family (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 03/14/17)
Frank, David and Katherine Hwang and Jean Hwang Carrant: When Judge Neil Gorsuch ruled against our family member battling cancer, Grace Hwang, almost three years ago, his decision was heartless.... Given how Gorsuch ruled as a federal circuit judge, he should not be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.... In writing his decision, Gorsuch said the purpose of federal law is “not to turn employers into safety net providers for those who cannot work.” He said that Grace’s six months of leave were “more than sufficient,” and that attendance was a basic expectation of employees. But Grace wasn’t asking for a vacation. She was asking for what the law provides: a reasonable accommodation so she could work from home instead of going to campus and potentially dying.

A Principled Reason to Oppose the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch (American Constitution Society Blog, 03/14/17)
Prof. Peter M. Shane, Guest Post: This is especially so if you have principled objections to judicial methodologies that purport to constrain judges, but which, in the hands of conservatives, lead quite predictably, even if not quite inevitably to politically conservative outcomes.... a senator may also conscientiously determine that Judge Gorsuch’s personal qualifications do not overcome the damage that would come from rewarding unprecedented Republican obstructionism in 2016. That is a principled basis for saying enough is enough."

SCOTUS makes it rain: Most of the big money behind the 2016 election directly resulted from Supreme Court decisions; Exclusive: Our new study suggests a series of Supreme Court decisions has flooded democracy with corporate dollars (, 03/14/17)
Demos' Sean McElwee, Adam Lioz and Juhem Navarro-Rivera: Congressional hearings for President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court are less than a week away, and voters want to know what confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch could mean for their voices in our democracy. More than 90 percent of voters (including 91 percent of Trump voters) say that it is important for Trump to nominate a Supreme Court justice open to limiting big money in politics. Seventy percent of Trump voters believe that the Congress should reject nominees who would help the wealthy and privileged wield too much power in elections.

Commentary: Gorsuch rulings will be tainted (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 03/14/17)
Prof. Scott E. Sundby: Republicans would not have run out the clock on Garland's nomination if they didn't believe that differing judicial philosophies matter. The problem, therefore, is not Gorsuch's adeptness at calling balls and strikes; it is that he should not be behind the plate at all. This brings us to what should be the most difficult question for Gorsuch at his confirmation hearing: How can one claim fidelity to the Constitution when one owes his position to others playing political games with the document and refusing to honor the Framers' intentions?

This Is How Neil Gorsuch Thinks (New York Magazine, 03/14/17)
Roger Parloff: There’s a dark side – elitist, cruel – to his originalism. ... there are other adjectives for Gorsuch’s dissent. Obtuse, callous, elitist, and cruel are contenders. He displays a manner of thinking that might disappoint — if not shock — many of the white, working-class voters who turned out for Trump in November. ... Gorsuch ridiculed his colleagues’ reasoning, and especially their appeal to the statute’s stated purpose of advancing health and safety.

The public's right to know Is under attack (Bennington Banner [VT], 03/14/17)
By Sen. Patrick Leahy: Vermonters and all Americans will be able to tune in to the Senate Judiciary Committee's public consideration of a Supreme Court nominee. While this same process should have been afforded to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's highly qualified nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Republicans broke a century of Senate tradition and refused him the opportunity of a public hearing. Now we are faced with a new nominee for the highest court in the land, nominated by a president who has already shown hostility to independent judges who dare to uphold the Constitution, and to journalists so bold as to write the truth. Next week's hearings mark a time where transparency and a free press can illuminate for the American people exactly what is at stake with this Supreme Court nominee and this presidency.

A plea to reject Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin Gazette, 03/14/17)
Signed by Jenni Dye, Research Director One Wisconsin Institute; Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO; Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director Voces de la Frontera; Nicole Safar, Government Relations Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin; Astar Herndon, Executive Director 9 to 5 Wisconsin; Dana Schultz, Executive Director Wisconsin Voices

Should the Senate confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court? (Denver Post [CO] , 03/14/17)
Eve Rose, Letter to the Editor: Last year, Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing for President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.... If Gorsuch, who says he honors the original intent of the Constitution, is a man of his beliefs, the honorable thing to do would be to reject the nomination, the product of unconstitutional and certainly undemocratic actions.

Commentary: Trump’s rubber stamp on Supreme Court would threaten voting rights (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 03/14/17)
Guest Columnist, Ben Monterroso, Mi Familia Vota: Gorsuch currently sits on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Colorado, New Mexico and other states, and has generally landed his judicial gavel on the opposite side of rights for workers, women, students or those who do not have the big money to influence elections. In other words, people who look to the courts to provide relief for wrongs committed by people and corporations in more powerful positions.... Gorsuch once wrote that “the left” uses the courts too much to protect rights instead of going through the political process, without acknowledging intimidation tactics that deny equal access to the ballot. So far, the federal courts have rejected the 2011 Texas voter ID law. But how would Gorsuch vote if the case reaches the Supreme Court? The nation should not face that prospect, and that is why we urge the Senate to reject Gorsuch.

Gorsuch's Adherence to Originalism Should Keep Him From SCOTUS; OPINION: Originalism fails to adapt to changing times and makes promises it cannot keep. (National Law Journal, 03/13/17)
Prof. David Rudenstine: I would vote against any nominee to the Supreme Court who stated that he or she adhered to originalism in construing the U.S. Constitution. Given that Gorsuch's judicial writings are widely understood as presenting him as an originalist, that would be my main objection.... The theory requires that we determine whose understanding of the original Constitution is definitive. But originalists disagree on this critical point.... judges practice "law office history," which is not history at all. ... Originalism assumes that historical evidence yields definitive and comprehensive answers to contemporary constitutional questions. The fallacies here are evident. ... Originalism also implodes over rights not mentioned in the Constitution — so-called un-enumerated rights — but which are nonetheless considered fundamental.

Opinion: Gorsuch May Be Supreme Court’s Most Religiously Motivated Justice (NBC News, 03/13/17)
Yuvraj Joshi, Lambda Legal: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. — illustrates just how extreme Gorsuch's views are.... an opinion written by Judge Gorsuch before the case was appealed to the Supreme Court was even more extreme, supporting even more sweeping religious exemptions from laws.... Judge Gorsuch's opinion makes no attempt to balance different interests.... Judge Gorsuch offers no words of caution against religiously motivated discrimination. ... Judge Gorsuch's Hobby Lobby opinion casts serious doubt on his ability to recognize non-religious interests, to weight them appropriately, and to appreciate the stakes of his judgments for the most vulnerable members of society

Ten Questions for Judge Gorsuch (Dorf on Law, 03/13/17)
Prof. Eric Segall: if he wants a seat on our nation’s highest Court, the American people have a right to know where he stands. So with that in mind, here are ten questions (with possible follow ups) that he should be asked: ...

Gorsuch education, experience too narrow (Missoulian [MT], 03/13/17)
Jeff Renz, Letter to the Editor: I disagree with my friend Russell Fagg, who considers Neil Gorsuch a “home run.” Gorsuch continues the unfortunate line of Supreme Court nominees whose education and experience are so narrow that they ought not to sit as judges.

When Gorsuch Promises “Equal Right to the Poor” (PrawfsBlawg, 03/13/17)
Prof. Richard M. Re: during his confirmation hearings, the Senate should ask Gorsuch what he understands his oath to mean—particularly the part about doing “equal right to the poor and to the rich.” In a forthcoming article, I discuss the history of the judicial oath's “equal right” principle, including its role in recent confirmation hearings.... here are three questions that the Senate might ask Judge Gorsuch: Can you tell us about a time when one of your judicial decisions was influenced by your oath to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich”? When federal judges have discretion to impose criminal fines, does the oath require consideration of whether the defendant is poor or rich? Do federal judges have an obligation to think about whether both the poor and the rich can access federal courts to obtain “equal right”?

Op-Ed Make Neil Gorsuch actually answer questions in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings (Los Angeles Times, 03/13/17)
Prof. Eric J. Segall: Although no nominee to our highest court should pledge to decide any issue in a specific way, a nominee ought to be pressed to fully explain her views on cases that have already been decided and other current legal issues. ... After all, many nominees, including Gorsuch, have expressed their views on legal questions in articles and books long before stepping into the Senate Judiciary chamber room....the Senate rejected Bork because his views on privacy, speech and gender discrimination were not shared by the vast majority of Americans. It is unlikely Gorsuch’s views are similarly out-of-touch, but we will never know unless the senators act like grown-ups and demand that he reveal them.

Gorsuch not the independent voice New Hampshire needs (Telegraph [Nashua, NH], 03/12/17)
Amelia Keane, Local Commentary: As the gatekeepers of the seats of power on the president’s cabinet and the Supreme Court, the Senate is more important than ever in making sure our country continues down a path toward equality and freedom, not fear and hatred.

Do the right thing (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 03/11/17)
Paul Hess, Letter to the Editor: In light of the Republican senators’ dereliction of their constitutional duty to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, I believe the honorable thing for Judge Neil Gorsuch to do is to remove his name from consideration until Judge Garland is given the hearing he deserves. Judge Gorsuch is young enough. ... With anticipated Supreme Court vacancies coming up, he will have his chance to have the hearing shamefully denied to Judge Garland.

The Filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch (Daily Kos, 03/11/17)
By webranding: There are several issues I care about more than just about anything else. The environment. Voting rights. Women’s rights. On these three issues I am not sure Trump could have picked a worse person than Judge Neil Gorsuch.

The Very Legitimacy of Our Democracy Is Under Threat: Donald Trump’s presidency is just one element of our disintegrating democracy. (Nation, 03/10/17)
Russ Feingold: To understand the roots of our current crisis, we must first look to the orchestrated attack on the pillars of our democracy that began seven years ago, starting with the lawless Citizens United decision. In the years that followed, the attack continued with the recent wave of racially targeted voter-suppression laws and last year’s hijacking of the Supreme Court by the GOP, capped off by a president who lost the popular-vote margin by nearly 3 million votes. ... the legitimacy crisis facing our system of government has also extended to the judicial branch, when, last year, GOP senators decided to abandon their constitutional responsibilities by blocking Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. They offered no legal justification for their actions, fully admitting that their sole intention was to sacrifice the legitimacy of the Court on a bet that a Republican would win the White House and they could secure their own nominee. I have never seen a politics more cynical than this strategy, crafted by majority leader Mitch McConnell. The severity of this action and what it means for the country cannot be overstated, because the legitimacy of the Court will be questioned for a generation. The difference between Garland and Donald Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, could be the difference between overturning or cementing voter-suppression laws, with future elections in the balance.

Senate Must Demand Answers About Gorsuch’s Work for Scandal-Plagued Department of Justice (Center for American Progress, 03/10/17)
Billy Corriher and Michele L. Jawando: Before voting on Gorsuch’s nomination, the Senate must ask him about his work at the DOJ. A former DOJ official said in 2007 that the department engaged in a “destructive pattern of partisan political actions,” including political prosecutions. The same official said that the George W. Bush administration “rewarded loyalty over all else.” Without more answers, the American people cannot be confident that Gorsuch will act as an independent check on the executive branch.

What Brown can do for Democrats in examining Gorsuch (The Hill, 03/09/17)
Prof. Carolyn Shapiro: Gorsuch – like all judges – is not a neutral umpire calling balls and strikes, as Chief Justice Roberts famously claimed. ... Southern segregationists bitterly upset about Brown v. Board of Education ... Democrats should use Brown to ask Judge Gorsuch why some past claims of judicial activism fade

Guest opinion: Gorsuch dissents on women's health care (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 03/09/17)
Martha Stahl: I’m gravely concerned about President Trump’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. When it comes to checking extreme politicians’ overreach into our most personal health care decisions, I hope both of Montana’s senators will prioritize women and strongly oppose his confirmation.

What senators should ask Neil Gorsuch (The Hill, 03/09/17)
Gabe Roth, Fix the Court, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: “In recent years, the Supreme Court has become the most powerful, least accountable part of our federal government, as the justices have picked our president, allowed the extremely wealthy to greatly influence our elections and made countless decisions of life and death. In your view, has the court become too powerful?”

Gorsuch record shows religious bias (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 03/09/17)
Danielle Egnew, Letter to the Editor: Senators Tester and Daines should staunchly oppose the confirmation of Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch, whose zealous religious ideology will, by its very nature, set a destructive national precedent for the introduction of all other religious ideologies into the highest court of the land. Gorsuch's repeated need to exercise his own religious viewpoint while ruling on cases such as Hobby Lobby and human rights issues that affect LGBT Americans is a grave misuse of his position as judge, placing his rulings in direct defiance of the Constitution itself. As a Christian pastor, I cannot envision a more destructive pathway for the sacred protections of religious freedom in America than appointing an active religious extremist, no matter the religion, as a Supreme Court justice.

Guest opinion: Gorsuch no friend of U.S. workers (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 03/09/17)
Al Ekblad, Montana State AFL-CIO: Working Montanans should be deeply concerned by President Trump’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record shows he’s comfortable using the law to enrich Wall Street bankers and trampling the rights of working people....Gorsuch appears to believe in legal theories that are well outside the mainstream and that would hinder the federal government’s ability to effectively address national problems affecting Americans. If confirmed, he would likely continue to endanger important protections for workers, as well as clean air, water and basic safety regulations for food and medicine. He’s demonstrated he will represent corporate interests over everyday people at a time when America needs a justice who will protect the rights of all of us.