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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Withholding judgment: In interpreting the Constitution, Supreme Court justices should consider their own morals and values (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 03/31/17)
Prof. Bruce Ledewitz: Neil Gorsuch made the point several times in his confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court that judges should rule on the law as it is, not as the law ought to be. This means that a judge’s morals and values should be irrelevant to his rulings. But, despite how reasonable this sounds, there are three problems with this approach — it is potentially immoral, dishonest and anti-democratic.

Why Democrats Need to Call the Mitch McConnell’s Bluff and Filibuster Neil Gorsuch: If Republicans nuke the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, they have more to lose than Democrats do. (Nation, 03/31/17)
Joshua Holland: First, it’s a stolen seat – Republicans kept it open for over a year without even holding hearings on Obama’s nominee. Second, letting a president whose legitimacy is in question take it without a fight would validate the GOP’s disdain for the norms have made our government functional. Third, the Democratic base is demanding it.  But most importantly, Democrats should block Gorsuch because they have nothing to lose but an undemocratic remnant of a bygone era known as the filibuster. And while the filibuster protects the minority, in the long run, it’s more likely to benefit Republicans than Democrats.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal: I'll Vote Against Gorsuch (Hartford Courant [CT], 03/31/17)
"I will vote against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch as United States Supreme Court justice.... Trump's disrespect for the judiciary was demonstrated by how he selected his nominee....Against this backdrop, Judge Gorsuch has a special obligation to be forthcoming — not to prejudge the merits of a particular future case, but to share his core beliefs on longstanding, well-established legal precedents and demonstrate his commitment to an independent judiciary. Instead he has evaded real answers at every turn.... We know that the man who hired him has said he passes his right-wing litmus test. We know that conservative organizations have spent millions on the prospect that he will move American law dramatically to the right. And we know that he will not answer questions that his predecessors answered about core tenets of American jurisprudence. In short, he has left us with substantial doubt.... That doubt is why I cannot support this nomination, and why I will work to block it using every tool at my disposal."

Enough already with a “deal” on Gorsuch (Huffington Post, 03/31/17)
Christopher Kang, Contributor: Here are five reasons that a deal doesn’t make sense for Democrats. First, Judge Gorsuch’s record.... Second, this is not “Justice Scalia’s seat,” and every nominee must be evaluated regardless of whom they would replace.... Third, no one knows when the next Supreme Court vacancy will occur. ... Fourth, any deal to preserve the 60-vote threshold may be short-lived.... Fifth, there is no guarantee that not filibustering today would lead to a more consensus nominee next time.

Sen. McCaskill: Gorsuch: Good for Corporations, Bad for Working People (Medium, 03/31/17)
"This is a really difficult decision for me. I am not comfortable with either choice. While I have come to the conclusion that I can’t support Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court — and will vote no on the procedural vote and his confirmation — I remain very worried about our polarized politics and what the future will bring, since I’m certain we will have a Senate rule change that will usher in more extreme judges in the future. I cannot support Judge Gorsuch because a study of his opinions reveal a rigid ideology that always puts the little guy under the boot of corporations. He is evasive, but his body of work isn’t. Whether it is a freezing truck driver or an autistic child, he has shown a stunning lack of humanity. And he has been an activist — for example, writing a dissent on a case that had been settled, in what appears to be an attempt to audition for his current nomination. Then there is Citizen’s United, the single most corrupting force in the history of politics in this nation. I cannot and will not support a nominee that allows dark and dirty anonymous money to continue to flood unchecked into our elections. I reject this nomination because Judge Gorsuch would continue an activist position that states that corporations have the same rights as people."

President* Trump's League of Masterminds Keep Screwing Up the Game Plan (Esquire, 03/31/17)
Charles P. Pierce: Gorsuch is doing himself no favors .... . Apparently, he declined to meet privately with either Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois or Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada, both of whom are Democrats, women, and people of color. This is not a good look.

If GOP goes nuclear over Gorsuch, America is toast (The Hill, 03/31/17)
Donna Smith, Opinion Contributor: "It does not appear that the nomination and confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch will be handled in anything but an intensely partisan and damaging way.... Neil Gorsuch is the mouthpiece for an intensely alt-right agenda, and not the even remotely nonpartisan jurist some would prefer.... Without a sound process carried out in the Senate and with the campaign advertising being done on his behalf, Gorsuch’s nomination and potential confirmation further weakens the Senate, the Supreme Court and the nation. The nuclear option diminishes the process, the nominee and more. If the Republicans use the nuclear option to change the Senate rules and confirm Gorsuch, the damage to this nation that became so evident following the November election will intensify.... It remains to be seen whether or not the Senate will have enough institutional memory and integrity to protect itself as a vital part of the sound functioning of our democracy, or if it will further descend into the tweeting abyss of insanity.

Letter: Young's vote for Gorsuch is unacceptable (Indianapolis Star [IN], 03/30/17)
Ben Brown: Sen. Young’s vote most troubles me because Judge Gorsuch is an enemy to Hoosier workers, the backbone of this state. Judge Gorsuch refused to acknowledge his failure in ruling against a truck driver who was fired after he left his trailer on the side of the road in subzero temperatures to save himself from freezing to death. Sen. Young’s vote is a vote for the same side as the corporate elites that are taking jobs from factories, like Carrier, the same corporate elites that fired that truck driver for saving his own life, and the same corporate elites who are backing Judge Gorsuch’s nomination as a man who will rule against workers.

Letter: Trump administration threatens our democracy (Gazette) (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 03/30/17)
Rev. Paul D. Romine: I could not help noticing the slick television ads assuring West Virginians that “people on the left should not be concerned” about President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Those expensive commercials are brought to you by the Judicial Crisis Network, which is a far-right political action group with no interest whatsoever in supporting liberal or progressive causes. They are reportedly spending $2 million on their hypocritical and dishonest TV ads, part of a $10 million multimedia campaign. If they really believed that Judge Gorsuch would be fair to progressives, they would be spending their money to oppose his nomination. This underscores the negative and corrosive influence of big money in our political process.

Gorsuch and the Senate GOP’s Alternative Universe (People For blog, 03/30/17)
Paul Gordon: If Gorsuch has earned so little bipartisan support that he cannot get the support of 60 senators (as all six successful nominees of the past three presidents were able to do), Mitch McConnell is threatening to change the Senate rules to allow Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by party-line majority votes.... Republicans refused to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland .... Republicans insisted on a 60-vote threshold for three of President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees, regardless of who they were .... this may have been the least transparent selection process in history, designed to lead to an extremist nominee rather than one who could garner bipartisan support.... They held Obama circuit court nominees to a 60-vote threshold, then refused to allow votes at all on three D.C. Circuit vacancies regardless of who they were, and then refused to even hold a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee.

GOP Dares Call Gorsuch Filibuster Unprecedented—While Ignoring Their Blockade Of Garland (Talking Points Memo, 03/30/17)
Tierney Sneed: A mass amnesia has fallen upon Republican senators. They seem to have forgotten about that time they refused to give President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court an up-or-down vote – or even a hearing – last year. Now they are claiming that Democrats are the norm-breakers for threatening to filibuster President Trump’s own Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.... Without irony or self-awareness, GOP senators are now bashing Democrats for preparing to launch “the first partisan filibuster” of a Supreme Court nominee and most aren’t even acknowledging that their blockade achieved the same goal through different means.

Letter: Trump policies, nominations fail Americans (Austin American-Statesman [TX] , 03/30/17)
Bill Haschke: in the Senate confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch — who Trump has nominated to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court — Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse brilliantly exposed the Republican policies and practices of denying justice for people in favor of allowing corporations to run roughshod over people. He showed that the Republican-dominated Supreme Court, over the past 10 years, has decided 16 major cases – all in favor of corporate financial interest over the interest of human beings.... Gorsuch is the perfect Federalist Society judge.... Republicans talk of rebalancing the court after the death of Scalia. What they really mean is they want to regain the advantageous imbalance in favor of corporations over people in this country.

‘Politics as usual’ has come to an end (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 03/30/17)
Op-Ed by Rokhini Prabhu: We at Indivisible SF know Feinstein has it in her to be a fighter. ... We also know, should Feinstein choose to fight, she’d bring a powerful hand to the table. As ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein is critical to the review of judicial nominees, including those to the Supreme Court.... Now is the time for her to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. When faced with the erosion of democracy, we do not compromise. We resist.

The Empty Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing (New York Times, 03/30/17)
Linda Greenhouse, Op-Ed: If Judge Gorsuch wasn’t the least forthcoming Supreme Court nominee ever to appear at a confirmation hearing, it’s hard to imagine one who could be less forthcoming while still breathing. More interesting and less predictable answers could have come from Siri on an iPhone. ... He never embraced even the most universally acclaimed landmarks, not even Gideon v. Wainwright, the 1963 decision that gave indigent criminal defendants the right to a free lawyer.... Judge Gorsuch insisted that it would be “unfair” to litigants before the Supreme Court to “tip his hand” on how he regarded prior cases — any prior case, no matter how ancient or uncontested. That is actually a fatuous position.

Gorsuch does not deserve approval (Marietta Daily Journal [GA], 03/30/17)
Margaret Lovell, Letter to the Editor: I’m particularly worried about the damage to women and the LGBT community that Judge Gorsuch could do as a Supreme Court justice. His history not only of backward-looking rulings, but also of acceptance of money from corporations makes him a poor choice for a lifetime appointment. I do not believe he will rule impartially on the merits of the cases brought before the court. Further, because Judge Garland, an eminently more qualified nominee, was denied even a hearing, Judge Gorsuch certainly does not deserve your approval.

Not Meeting with Senators Is a New Low in the Supreme Court Confirmation Process (Huffington Post, 03/30/17)
Christopher Kang, Contributor: In 2009 and 2010, I was Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, and I led the Senate outreach and strategy for the confirmations of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. Out of respect for the process, the Senate as an institution, and Senators as individuals, we proactively offered a courtesy meeting to every single Senator.... these meetings are about more than just trying to win votes. They are about respect for the Senate as an institution—a co-equal branch of government that is constitutionally responsible for providing advice and consent on Supreme Court nominations. If you don’t understand this, that raises serious questions about your judgment and independence. And I’m not saying that Judge Gorsuch himself is necessarily behind these decisions to refuse to meet with Senators Cortez Masto and Duckworth. ... But now that he presumably knows, he is responsible to address the deep disrespect that these Senators—and likely many other Senators on their behalf—rightly feel. If he had time this week to meet a second time with Senator Manchin, surely, he has time to meet Senators Cortez Masto and Duckworth.

Gorsuch’s Ideology Has Harmed People With Disabilities (People For blog, 03/30/17)
Paul Gordon: During Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings, many Americans were shocked to learn just how insensitive President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee can be to people with disabilities—even children.

The 12 times Republicans insisted on a 60-vote threshold for Obama’s judicial nominees (American Constitution Society Blog, 03/30/17)
Christopher Kang, Guest Post: Many Senate Democrats believe that a Supreme Court nominee should be within the mainstream and therefore able to earn the support of 60 Senators. Given the stakes, this hardly seems unreasonable, but Republicans now claim that a 60-vote threshold for judicial nominees would be unfair. Here are the 12 times they insisted on a 60-vote threshold for Obama’s lower court nominees—and, really, once Republicans demanded that a trial court judge in Rhode Island needed 60 votes, shouldn’t Democrats be able to ask for the same for the highest court in the land?

Force court nominees to answer questions about their views (Orange County Register [CA] , 03/30/17)
Erwin Chemerinsky, Contributing Columnist: Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings were rendered a farce by his unwillingness to answer any questions about his views on legal issues. ... there is no justification for his refusal to answer questions; a justice is not deemed biased once his or her views on legal issues are known. ... the Senate should deny confirmation to Judge Gorsuch and any nominee who refuses to answer questions about his or her position about important legal questions.... There are three possible justifications for a nominee not answering questions, but none is at all persuasive.

Letter: Reject Gorsuch (Deseret News [UT] , 03/30/17)
Daniel Geery: Judge Neil Gorsuch well knows that he is fighting to take a seat on the Supreme Court, a seat that should have gone to Judge Merrick Garland .... Gorsuch's testimony strengthened the already powerful argument for rejecting his nomination, based on his pro-corporate track record

Gorsuch is bad news for the disabled (West Hawaii Today, 03/29/17)
Mike Ervin: If Neil Gorsuch, President Donald 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 such citizens. 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, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other disability rights laws.... The Senate should reject his nomination.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Opinion: Neil Gorsuch’s Frightening Record on Protecting Women’s Rights (NBC News, 03/29/17)
Melanie Campbell: There is not a woman in the United States whose life will not be impacted in some way if Gorsuch would become a member of the Supreme Court. He has clearly staked out positions that are opposed to equal rights for women in a number of issues. The legislative effort to seek confirmation of his appointment in the Senate must be thwarted, or we, the women of America, will undoubtedly suffer.

Don't torpedo Senate rules for Gorsuch: Nan Aron: If a nominee for a lifetime job can’t get 60 votes, don't go 'nuclear.' Change the nominee. (USA Today, 03/29/17)
"Democrats spotlighted key cases where everyday Americans got the shaft in Gorsuch’s rulings.... the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state owes students with disabilities more than just a minimal education — a direct rebuke to Gorsuch's ruling in the Luke P. case. The nominee claimed when questioned that his decision was dictated by precedent. But he had added a word to the precedent that changed its meaning. That’s not relying on legal precedent; that’s inventing a new standard"

On Gorsuch decision, Casey put people before politics (Newsworks , 03/29/17)
Solomon Jones: Sen. Bob Casey chose his constituents over threats from a well-funded opposition. In announcing his intention to vote no on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Casey listened to constituents like myself who asked him to vote against Gorsuch—a judge with a penchant for putting corporations before people. In an age when too many politicians value their own interests more than the constituents they represent, Casey chose the people over himself. For that, he has earned my respect.

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.

Worried about Gorsuch (New Hampshire Union Leader, 03/29/17)
Leslie Stonebraker, Letter to the Editor: I’m worried about the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. Gorsuch has been very vocal about where he stands on women’s health care and he is not on our side.... Gorsuch wants to go further than the Hobby Lobby decision in blocking employees’ access to insurance coverage for birth control.... I call on Sens. Shaheen and Hassan to join me in opposing Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.