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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Maine Voices: Environmental stewards should stand together against Gorsuch: President Trump's nominee opposes the long-standing custom that courts defer to experts in government (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 03/25/17)
Ken Cline: Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge, has a record of extreme positions that proves he is too far outside the mainstream and too hostile to the environment for this critically important position. Gorsuch has been described as more extreme than Scalia, the most anti-environment justice in recent Supreme Court history. Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy will limit the access of everyday Americans to the courts and prevent agencies like the EPA from doing their job to protect our air, water and health. This is a dangerous view that will favor polluters and industry over the rights of the people. On at least three separate occasions, Gorsuch has denied access to the courts for environmental groups. Environmental laws without citizen access to the courts to enforce them are a hollow promise. ... We must hold the Senate to that 60-vote threshold..... Collins and King must raise their voices with us and reject Neil Gorsuch

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.

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.

Ken Grossinger: Judge Gorsuch wrong choice for Colorado's working families (Daily Camera [CO] , 03/25/17)
Guest Opinion: for the majority of Coloradans — and Americans — who are everyday working people, Judge Gorsuch's record bodes ill.... throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has shown a pattern of siding in favor of employers, wealthy corporations and Wall Street — against working families ... He also has voiced support for legal theories that could jeopardize important protections for workers as well as clean air, clean water, and safe food and medicine that each of us relies on every day.... a "no" vote on Judge Gorsuch is the only vote that serves these families.

Editorial: It's not Neil Gorsuch's fault, but we can't support his ascension to a stolen Supreme Court seat (Los Angeles Times, 03/25/17)
Editorial Board: these are not normal times. Not after the outrageous obstruction of Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for 10 full months by Senate Republicans. That debacle began in March 2016, when President Obama nominated Garland, a moderate and well-respected appeals court judge .... Instead of doing what the Constitution requires and offering their advice and, if merited, their consent, Senate Republicans refused even to engage in the process.... Some people think it’s hyperbolic to suggest that the seat was “stolen.” But how else to describe it? Republicans took the opportunity to fill the vacancy away from Barack Obama without justification and delivered it up instead to Donald Trump. Gorsuch could now tilt the balance on the increasingly polarized Supreme Court for the next 30 or more years ... President Obama’s nominee was robbed of his right to a hearing, and the Senate Democrats have no obligation to be complicit in the theft.

Letter to the editor, March 25: Gorsuch, Concerns about Supreme Court nominee (Tennessean, 03/25/17)
Harold Spear, Jr.: my question to Mr. Gorsuch is whether he views Roe v. Wade as legal precedent as in Marbury v. Madison, which has generally been followed, or as in Dred Scott where it would be ripe for repeal? Incidentally, I also have concerns about another legal principle that Judge Gorsuch supports, that being “strict constructionism” of our United States Constitution. Can we really apply the original intent of the founders of our constitution, who by the way counted slaves as three-fourths of a person, to our most complicated contemporary legal issues?

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.

[Editorial] A Roadblock to the Court for Neil Gorsuch (New York Times, 03/24/17)
"Despite his insistence that he would approach every case with an open mind, his record strongly suggests he would rule the way Republicans would like in most, if not all, cases. Over three or four decades on the court, he would help push the law further to the right in many areas. In a speech on the Senate floor, Mr. Schumer pledged to vote against Judge Gorsuch because, he said, “his career and judicial record suggest not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology.” The best rationale for the filibuster, however, is the outrageous behavior of Mr. Schumer’s Republican colleagues, who refused even to consider Judge Merrick Garland, Mr. Obama’s highly qualified choice to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, in February 2016 — solely to hold the seat open for a conservative judge."

March 24 Letter: Americans should oppose Gorsuch confirmation (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 03/24/17)
Elaine Connolly: many analysts find that Gorsuch’s rulings demonstrate a willingness to side with big corporations over average citizens.... Our nation demands a Supreme Court that will eliminate big money from politics and remove the hyper-partisanism that has overtaken the political process. Therefore, we should all oppose the appointment of Judge Gorsuch.

Letter: Gorsuch is less moderate than Scalia (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 03/24/17)
Elise Love: Neil Gorsuch stated that no one had asked him for any commitments yet he has repeatedly sided with big business over the interests of workers and consumers. In contrast, Merrick Garland was a candidate whose moderate decisions would have balanced the court. The unconstitutional partisan conspiracy that blocked Garland must not be legitimized with the appointment of Gorsuch. The "best judgment" of candidate Gorsuch is actually less moderate than that of Judge Antonin Scalia,

Letter to the Editor on Garaldn and Gorsuch Supreme Coutr nominations (Washington Post, 03/24/17)
Richard Dine: elections should not wipe away the Republicans’ dereliction of duty and further politicization of our judiciary in their failure to approve Judge Merrick Garland, particularly since then-President Barack Obama was careful to nominate a moderate to encourage bipartisan support. Democrats should boycott voting for Mr. Gorsuch until Republicans agree to give Mr. Garland the consideration he deserves.

Opinion: To defend rule of law, Dems must filibuster Gorsuch hearing (Austin American-Statesman [TX] , 03/24/17)
Prof. Charles Olney: President Obama chose Merrick Garland — a “consensus nominee” in the words of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. Like Gorsuch, Garland was eminently qualified and highly regarded by all sides. Moreover, unlike Gorsuch — who would be among the most conservative judges on the Court — Garland is near the middle of the ideological spectrum.... independence is precisely what the breaking of these norms endangers. In the world envisioned by the Republican blockade of Merrick Garland, qualifications for the job are reduced exclusively to partisan interests .... Democrats must challenge the idea that long-standing normative protections against abuse of power can be broken without consequence.