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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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Gorsuch’s narrow view of the law has cruel consequences (Boston Globe, 03/29/17)
Joan Vennochi, GLOBE COLUMNIST: In a unanimous decision that came down during his confirmation hearing, the Court said Gorsuch used the wrong test in a 2008 case in which he denied a child with autism placement in a private residential facility ... “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,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.... His first instinct is to contract rights, not expand them, no matter how vulnerable the person seeking legal redress. At a minimum, that’s disturbing. To those who think of the law as a crucial tool for protecting the powerless, it’s disqualifying.

Letter: GOP should apply own logic to Gorsuch hearings (Tri-City Herald [WA] , 03/29/17)
Barbara Seiders: In keeping with his prior position, Sen. McConnell should suspend the nomination hearings for Judge Gorsuch. After all, President Trump carried the Electoral College vote, but not the majority among voting Americans.... Trump has registered and actively campaigns for the 2020 election. Sen. McConnell’s position about an outgoing president not being allowed to seat a SCOTUS appointment should apply as well.

The Fundamental Dishonesty of the Gorsuch Hearings: The confirmation process has shed little light on the philosophy of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court or on what kind of justice he will be. (Atlantic, 03/29/17)
Garrett Epps: the nominee’s performance left me feeling worse about him than I previously had.... Gorsuch was by turns condescending, evasive, and even dishonest. In fact, it’s not too much to say that he, in his aw-shucks gentlemanly way, gaslighted the committee in a genteel but nonetheless Trumpian style. In effect, Gorsuch said over and over, there is no elephant in the room. That elephant, of course, is lawless politics of the rawest kind. The naked partisanship that kept a seat on the court open for a year in hopes that a Republican president could fill it; the overt contempt for law shown by Trump in stumping the country, showing a list with Neil Gorsuch’s name on it to guarantee a reversal of pro-choice legal precedent; the ideological aggressiveness that led a mysterious “dark money” group to pony up a staggering $10 million for TV ads touting Gorsuch for the seat denied to Merrick Garland; the authoritarian cynicism of an executive branch recklessly seeking to intimidate and neuter the Article III courts.

Voices: Supreme Court nominee hearings are no laughing matter (Daily Advertiser [Lafayette, LA], 03/29/17)
Arturo Magidin: I am deeply disappointed in the performance of Sen. John Kennedy and fellow Republican Senators in the Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch. They joked, they discussed "mutton busting," fly fishing, and other irrelevant matters.... They also failed to call Gorsuch in his evasions; he was willing to heap praise on decisions striking down segregation, but claimed that it would be unethical to express an opinion on other seminal decisions on privacy that have been on the books for over 50 years, such as the decision that allowed married couples to decide to use contraception in their home. ... I would hope that Kennedy comes to realize this, and votes to call back Gorsuch and demand that he engage substantively on the questions about his writings and judicial philosophy.

Dissent that put Gorsuch’s humanity in question (Financial Times, 03/29/17)
Ed Hillard, Letter to the Editor: High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our T&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email to buy additional rights. Is Neil Gorsuch “thoughtful and experienced” or a judicial automaton? (Letters, March 27.) This question poses itself in the face of his failure to justify satisfactorily his heartless dissent in the case of the truck driver, fired for leaving his essentially non-functional truck in temperatures of 14 degrees F rather than freeze to death in the truck. Mr Gorsuch was questioned about his dissent by various senators on the Judicial Committee but it was Senator Al Franken’s persistent questioning that stripped the “thoughtful” guise from the judicial automaton Mr Gorsuch would present if approved as a Supreme Court justice. Though given several opportunities to acknowledge his dissent as misguided, Mr Gorsuch seemed confused that the senator found it so uncomprehendingly, inhumanely wrong.

Don’t Blame the Democrats for the Gorsuch Filibuster, Blame Gorsuch (Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, 03/29/17)
Victoria Bassetti: There were four turning points in Gorsuch’s testimony ... Supreme Court nominees have had to walk a fine line. If they say too much, they can appear rigidly ideological and risk losing votes. If they say too little, they can appear less than forthright. Gorsuch took this approach to new extremes. And by trying to be too clever by half, he walked into a filibuster.

Russia is not the reason to block Gorsuch (Washington Post, 03/28/17)
Op-Ed by Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and publisher of the Nation magazine: Gorsuch has consistently sided with corporations over workers and consumers. He has also demonstrated a pattern of hostility toward the civil rights of LGBT people, women and minorities, which may help explain why he was a top choice of the conservative ideologuesat the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to replace the late, far-right Justice Antonin Scalia.... Democrats aggressively questioned Gorsuch over his clear history of corporate favoritism, the most prominent example of which is probably his dissenting opinion in the so-called frozen trucker case. ... Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) argued that Gorsuch’s confirmation would exacerbate the problem, raising concerns about the influence of dark money .... And it’s not just Gorsuch’s pro-corporate ideology that is cause for alarm.... Given the stakes, a filibuster is clearly warranted.

No way, no how (New York Daily News, 03/28/17)
Pete Culliney, Letter to the Editor: As you state, the Republicans stole the nomination of Merrick Garland; this seat was the rightful duty of President Obama to fill. This decisiveness should not be rewarded. ... This life-tenured position should not be filled while there are any clouds over the nomination, or, most importantly, the “presidency” that has put forward this tainted nomination.

Merkley shows good judgment: Letter to the editor (Oregonian, 03/28/17)
Barbara McLean: McConnell and Senate Republicans stole President Obama's legitimate pick for a Supreme Court seat. Merrick Garland is an eminently qualified centrist, not partisan judge. He is the only Supreme Court nominee who should get a hearing. Neil Gorsuch, on the other hand, is an extreme nominee

Letter to the editor: Judge Gorsuch is not our friend (Tulsa World [OK], 03/28/17)
John Hartman: Judge Neil Gorsuch is not our friend. He is not the friend of the common citizen. He is the friend of corporations. He is the friend of the powerful. He is willing to twist the law.... Neil Gorsuch is not what we are looking for in a Supreme Court justice.

Justice denied (New York Daily News, 03/28/17)
Ronald Young, Letter to the Editor: here must be no rewarding the Republicans’ contempt for democracy. ...Perhaps Judge Gorsuch is, as you say, “whip-smart.” He seems smart enough to avoid answering questions .... Any Democrat who rewards the Republicans by approving Trump’s nominee shows no courage

John Nichols: Russ Feingold is right: Neil Gorsuch is disqualified by a corrupted process (Cap Times [WI], 03/28/17)
John Nichols, Cap Times associate editor: Judge Neil Gorsuch knows full well that he is attempting to take a place on the U.S. Supreme Court that should have gone to another jurist, Judge Merrick Garland.... Yet Gorsuch sacrificed his own self-respect last week when he refused to answer a simple question about the shameful treatment of Garland .... it further disqualified a man who — if he truly respected the Constitution and the court — would have refused Trump’s offer of a tainted nomination.... Yes, Gorsuch advanced on a classic Republican trajectory through the ranks of the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, the Republican National Lawyers Association and George W. Bush’s Department of Justice. Yes, he has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit as a rigid conservative. And yes, reasonable people may oppose the Gorsuch nomination because they believe he will be unable to overcome the political biases of a lifetime. But even those who might be inclined to approve Gorsuch under different circumstances cannot accept the illicit manner in which his nomination has been advanced.

Letter: Dems right to block Gorsuch (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 03/28/17)
Cody Eliff: Senate Democrats have nothing to lose by blocking the nomination of an extremist to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans stood in the way of President Barack Obama's nominee for more than a year, arguing that we ought to wait until a new president is elected. They blocked not only SCOTUS nominees but lower court nominees in an unprecedented fashion.... The nomination of the anti-woman and anti-gay nominee, who agrees far too much with the disastrous Citizens United decision, should be blocked.

EDITORIAL: Gorsuch is a perfectly qualified but fatally flawed candidate for the Supreme Court (Aurora Sentinel [CO], 03/27/17)
"[H]e misunderstands the Constitution’s driving force about religion, that to protect our “freedom of,” we must first protect our “freedom from.”... On the bench, Gorsuch wrongly allows the courts to protect the religious freedom of one citizen by denying the same rights of another. The most egregious example came in 2013 Hobby Lobby v Sebelius ruling.... Gorsuch went further than just signing onto the majority ruling. ... Gorsuch argued that their faith extended to a legal instrument created to pay taxes and create commerce. He said the government can’t impose a religion on a business, but a business can impose its religion on anyone,... Trump needs to offer a candidate who does suffer from Gorsuch’s fatal flaw.

A Soulless Man Cannot Serve Justice (Huffington Post, 03/27/17)
Leo W. Gerard, International President United Steelworkers union: The senator’s question was simple and straightforward: What would you have done? Judge Neil Gorsuch wouldn’t answer. He couldn’t say whether, on orders from an employer, he’d have driven a tractor trailer with locked brakes, endangering the lives of other motorists, or instead allowed himself to freeze to death in sub-zero cold in an unheated truck cab while awaiting a mechanic.... Gorsuch’s dissent says it was perfectly fine for TransAm to fire Maddin for acting to save his own life.... Gorsuch has treated other vulnerable people the same way.... Gorsuch’s perverse propensity to discount humanity makes him unfit for the court.

Neil Gorsuch’s Own Testimony Clearly Disqualifies Him: The nominee failed to outline even minimal concerns about the GOP’s judicial coup. (Nation, 03/27/17)
John Nichols: Judge Neil Gorsuch knows full well that he is attempting to take a place on the Supreme Court that should have gone to another jurist, Judge Merrick Garland. ... Gorsuch’s refusal to acknowledge that corruption diminished him. And it further disqualified a man who—if he truly respected the constitution and the court—would have refused Trump’s offer of a tainted nomination.... By putting his own political ambition ahead of a duty to the republic, Gorsuch extended the damage done by Republican partisans in 2016.

We don't need another Scalia (Seacoastonline [Southern ME & NH], 03/27/17)
Anne Vaughan & Niles Schore, Letter to the Editor: Dear Senators King and Collins, We write to you out of concern about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.... We refer to Senator Feinstein's statement to Gorsuch in the hearing on March 21, "you are the next Scalia." We do not need another voice who risks decisions like Heller.

Judge Neil Gorsuch shows he has a wisdom deficit (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 03/27/17)
Letter to the Editor by Robert J. Hartsock: a justice must also exhibit wisdom in his decisions. Judge Gorsuch showed a lack of wisdom with his dissent in the employment case of truck driver Alphonse Maddin (the “frozen trucker” case).... Please bring back Judge Merrick Garland.

OPINION: Gorsuch and the primacy of common sense (Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 03/26/17)
Philip Martin: "I'm an originalist and a textualist, not a nut." --Antonin Scalia ... Gorsuch held that Maddin did "operate" his vehicle--he drove his truck away from the broken-down trailer to safety. The other judges, the prevailing majority, were willing to cut Maddin a break and interpret "operate" as driving both the truck and the trailer .... Gorsuch maintains that his job as judge is to be a passive interpreter; the letter of the law required him to come up with his ruling. It might have been wrong or immoral for TransAm to fire Maddin under the circumstances, but it was legal. If he wanted to keep his job, he should have continued to risk his life.... Given the real-world consequences, it's doubtful that even Scalia, who at times reveled in absurdity, would have come to the same conclusion as Gorsuch did in TransAm. The trouble with reductionist ideologically driven ideas is that when bright line rules are applied to a complicated world, they invariably result in absurdities.

Gorsuch won't be Trump's voice for the voiceless: Tony May (PennLive [PA], 03/26/17)
PennLive Op-Ed: Although Gorsuch has been adept and even glib throughout the Senate confirmation hearing process when asked to comment on past court decisions he has rendered or his views on issues that might possibly confront the Supreme Court in the future, he has revealed an absolute inclination to favor the entrenched status quo over the little guy. That should earn him rejection by the Senate - or at least a failure to achieve confirmation by a 60-vote super-majority.... he fails a fair test of the concept of "originalism" - the idea that we should honor the intent of the founding fathers - by siding with inventions of the modern world like multi-national corporations over the rights and needs of individual humans.

No, Michael Bennet shouldn’t back Neil Gorsuch (Denver Post [CO] , 03/26/17)
Douglas Willey, Letter to the Editor: Merrick Garland was equally qualified and the Republicans took the extraordinary action of blocking his nomination for no other reason than they had the power to do so.... Republicans are being amply rewarded for their bad behavior through the nomination of a predictably conservative voice to the Supreme Court. If, through a filibuster, the Democrats can force them to back up and nominate a more centrist judge, that would seem like reasonable restitution for their crime. Michael Bennet should support the filibuster.

Letter: Egregious hypocrisy (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 03/26/17)
Mickey Gallivan: from Sen. Orrin Hatch's op-ed ... boorishly in support of the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch. Hatch said, "Something is seriously wrong when the judicial confirmation process resembles an election campaign for political office. Politicizing the judiciary in this way also undermines judicial independence." Need I only say two words: Merrick Garland. ... you have personified hypocrisy.... Have you no shame?

Neil Gorsuch and the Deconstruction of the Administrative State (Huffington Post, 03/26/17)
Marjorie Cohn, Contributor: elevating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and achieving deregulation are inextricably linked.... Faced with defying his employer’s order to remain with his disabled trailer or freezing to death, Maddin chose to unhitch the trailer and drive his truck to safety.... Gorsuch characterized “health and safety” concerns as “ephemeral and generic,” writing, “After all, what under the sun, at least at some level of generality, doesn’t relate to ‘health and safety’?” In his dissent, Gorsuch, who displayed a smooth, compassionate persona while testifying at his hearing, described the conditions Maddin faced as merely “cold weather.” He wrote that for Maddin to sit and wait for help to arrive was an “unpleasant option.”... Sen. Dick Durbin discussed Maddin’s case with Gorsuch, saying that the temperature was minus 14 that night, “but not as cold as your dissent.” In Gorsuch’s dissenting opinion, he refused to defer to the Department of Labor’s interpretation of the statutory language .... All Democratic senators should filibuster the nomination of Gorsuch for associate justice of the Supreme Court. His right-wing ideology and Bannon’s frightening agenda would dismantle important protections and endanger us all.

A filibuster against Mr. Gorsuch is appropriate (Washington Post, 03/26/17)
Letter to the Editor by Jack Hadley: The Democrats’ vow to filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is appropriate. It is essential to stand against the ideological politicization of the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch wrong about federal regulations (Indianapolis Star [IN], 03/26/17)
Prof. Diana Winters: Gorsuch would have unelected judges interpreting ambiguous laws instead of the expert and experienced agencies charged with administering the law. This is not only unwise, it would mark a sea change in the way the regulatory state operates. Gorsuch’s approach to agency interpretation would make it harder for agencies like the EPA and the FDA to protect the American public. Besides, the American public knows that the judiciary too is subject to political whim. After all, the only reason there is a seat vacant for Gorsuch is politics. What would a world without Chevron really look like? Like it did before the regulation of the environment, before the regulation of food safety — more polluted, dirtier, and sicker. No thank you.

Gorsuch, Thomas, Rehnquist and beyond: A short history of right-wing lies in Supreme Court confirmation hearings; Neil Gorsuch's bland denials belong to a tradition of conservative dishonesty that reaches back many decades (, 03/26/17)
Paul Rosenberg: As Neil Gorsuch tries to avoid confronting his record in his campaign to steal Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court seat, it’s helpful to gain a broader view of a profoundly deceptive multi-decade conservative drama .... Generally speaking the lies take two main forms: a variety of different narrow lies about what specific individual judges have or have not done, and an array of broad lies about what judges in general should or should not do. All are variants of one big über-lie: That only conservatives act properly as judges.

If Gorsuch values judicial independence, he'll withdraw (Detroit Free Press [MI] , 03/25/17)
Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press Editorial Page Editor: I’m sadly confident he’ll issue rulings that’ll mean more misery for folks whose marginalization was at the core of this nation’s founding. ... if Gorsuch were really decent, if he really loved judicial independence and respected his colleagues as much as he said he did this week during his hearings, he’d do something he’s nearly certain not to do: He’d withdraw his nomination.... there are a few reasons Garland’s botched nomination is the right place to make a stand. For starters, it was a Supreme Court pick, and this marked the first time a sitting president was denied the opportunity to fill an open seat on the court because it was "his last year in office." That made-up justification was all about Republican resentment of former President Barack Obama, and a first-of-its-kind affront to the delicate constitutional checks and balances between the Senate and the president. No nominee had gone more than about 100 days without a hearing in American history. Garland went nearly a year.

Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing revealed his hidden similarity to Trump; The two appear to be a study in contrasts -- but both display a remarkable lack of compassion; Their likeness could serve to justify Democrats' opposition. (Guardian News and Media, 03/25/17)
Lucia Graves: He was one of the most evasive nominees in recent memory, but what he did finally reveal had nothing to do with his patently conservative ideology – one thought to be even more staunchly conservative than that of the man he would replace, the late Antonin Scalia. Instead, on display were a set of unmistakably Trumpian attributes that should sound familiar to any close observer of the 2016 presidential election: a cold cognitive empathy coupled with a dearth of compassion.... the fact that Maddin might have died sitting there waiting for help at 14-below, if he’d been unwise enough to follow the only option made available by Gorsuch, did not appear to enter into his calculus. He did not seem to care.... Gorsuch’s record and comments suggest he may also believe a good judge does not give a whit about people.... Gorsuch dodged nearly every substantive question by saying he would defer to precedent. But in TransAm Trucking v Administrative Review Board we saw him fight precedent – in this particular case, a legal statute known as Chevron deference – for what appear to be the pettiest of possible reasons. In his remarkably flippant opinion, Gorsuch narrows legal definitions to make them more restrictive ... If Democrats choose to filibuster, fight and delay Gorsuch for as long as they can, their biggest justification may not be that his seat was stolen and the moment calls for a moderate, nor because he offered next to no substantive answers this week – it may be because, faced with the very real specter of a compromised president intent on overreaching his powers, he offers worse than no check. In unguarded moments, he offers more of the same.

Gorsuch Shouldn’t Be Confirmed Until Trump Is Cleared Of Wrongdoing: Until we know Trump is a legitimate president, he can’t be presumed to have the authority to make such a pick. (Huffington Post, 03/25/17)
Robert Reich, Contributor: First, we need to be sure Trump didn’t collaborate with Russia to rig the election. The FBI says it has enough “credible evidence” that Trump aides colluded with Russian operatives to affect the outcome of the election, to move forward with a full-scale investigation. At the least, Gorsuch shouldn’t be considered until that investigation is concluded. We also need to be sure Trump isn’t motivated by financial conflicts of interest around the world. We need to see his tax records to know ... And we need to know he’s not violating the Constitution by raking in money from foreign governments.

What Should Democrats Do About Gorsuch? (Huffington Post, 03/25/17)
William Astore, Contributor: They should filibuster. The reason is obvious: Merrick Garland, President Obama’s eminently qualified and moderate nominee for the Supreme Court, never even got a hearing from Republicans. ... Republicans are Lucy holding the football, and you are Charlie Brown. No matter how many times Lucy tells you she’s going to let you kick the ball, she’s always going to pull it away, betraying her promise while making snide comments about your gullibility. There’s another reason not to vote for Gorsuch: the man lacks compassion.