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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Gridlock at the Supreme Court (Post and Courier [SC], 03/31/16)
"Tuesday’s 4-4 gridlock on an important First Amendment case.... was also a vivid demonstration of the power of a 5-4 Supreme Court vote to define the nation’s legal framework for better or for worse, and a clear example of the reason the Senate should closely examine the judicial record and philosophy of any nominee .... But by postponing consideration of President Obama’s nominee, federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, the senators are passing up an opportunity to lay before the public just how Judge Garland has approached the law. ... Of course, by holding such hearings the Senate would be under no obligation to confirm Judge Garland if a majority of Senators found his judicial philosophy objectionable. But the Senate performs a service by bringing such issues forward even for the high court nominee of a lame duck president."

EDITORIAL: How we see it: US Senate race in Ohio will have sparks flying (Vindicator [Youngstown, OH], 03/31/16)
"In selecting appeals court Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the president was sending a clear message to the GOP: I intend to fulfill my constitutional duties until the last day of my term in office. ... Garland won confirmation in 1997 to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with backing from a majority of both parties, including seven current Republican senators. Garland, 63, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit, is a respected moderate jurist and former prosecutor.... one fact is undeniable: Obama won election and re-election by impressive margins, thus being able to claim a mandate from the voters to do his job. ... In arguing that “the American people” this year must have a say, what are the Republicans in the Senate suggesting about the 65-plus million who voted for Obama in his bid for a second four-year term – a full term? ... meetings would be nothing more than political window dressing if the GOP majority continues to say “no.”"

EDITORIAL: The 4-4 court (Baltimore Sun, 03/30/16)
"There's no longer a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, and Republican senators need to recognize that fact. Doing nothing about the vacancy for an entire year is not helping their cause. The president's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, may be the most conservative option that's ever going to be available to them to fill that vacancy .... Senator McConnell's stonewalling isn't playing so well with the general public. ... Many GOP senators want to block Mr. Obama without having to acknowledge that his nominee is actually quite reasonable because, ultimately, they'd rather not vote against Judge Garland."

EDITORIAL: Trump is the ‘Establishment’ (Storm Lake Times [IA], 03/30/16)
"Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell vowed from the day President Obama took office that his caucus’ main goal was to bring Obama down. Today, Sen. Chuck Grassley stands firm with McConnell in denying hearings to Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland just because Obama nominated him."

FEATURED EDITORIAL: Judge the person (Toledo Blade [OH], 03/30/16)
"Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is a Supreme Court nominee almost too good to be true.... The President still has almost 9 months to serve and this nominee is the epitome of prudence, balance, and qualification. And that should be the point: the qualifications of the particular nominee.... Judge Garland is highly and uniquely qualified for the Supreme Court. Republican senators such as Rob Portman, who generally try to uphold comity, should do the self-evidently right thing and give him a hearing. This is America. Judge the person."

EDITORIAL: Our Opinion: Tie goes to unions in critical Supreme Court decision (Berkshire Eagle [MA] , 03/30/16)
"There is a reason why the US Supreme Court is supposed to have an odd number of justices, nine specifically, and the absence of one gave a major victory to unions Tuesday.... Senate Republicans' petulant refusal to do their job and give a hearing to President Obama's Supreme Court nominee assures other tie votes, for good or ill."

EDITORIAL: Gardner weighs in (Daily Sentinel [CO], 03/30/16)
"“To me it says Washington continues to face challenges it hasn’t addressed,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, told the Sentinel’s editorial board Tuesday. One of those challenges is coming to some accord on filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Despite national polls indicating that even a majority of Republican voters say the Senate should hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, Gardner remains steadfast in his belief that confirmation should wait until after the election.... We disagree with Gardner’s stance on the Senate’s refusal to hold hearings. It’s an abuse of process established in the Constitution and leaves a deadlocked court in place for far too long."

EDITORIAL: Supreme Court stalemate needs to be broken (Shelby Star [NC] , 03/30/16)
"[F]urther stalemates are likely if Senate Republicans continue with their ridiculous refusal to hold hearings on President Obama’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Scalia vacancy.... Based on his comments last month, it would seem that the chief justice agrees. He would be doing his court and the Constitution a favor by explicitly calling on the Senate to do its job and give Garland a fair hearing."

EDITORIAL: Grassley takes righteous heat over judicial bias (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 03/30/16)
"Grassley and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s conspiratorial refusal even to consider Federal Appeals Court Chief Judge Merrick Garland for the post has sparked, justified, national outrage. Even among some Republicans.... the Senate has a majority of senators just like Grassley. Their refusal to compromise is precisely why the country has so many unresolved problems.... his embattled GOP colleague, Sen. Mark Kirk, has called for Grassley to have his committee hold hearings on Garland and demanded the GOP-run Senate “man up and cast a vote.”"

EDITORIAL: Burr, Tillis snub nominee and law (News & Observer [NC], 03/30/16)
"Now it is simply embarrassing. Are North Carolina’s Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis so fearful — and so rude — that they are afraid to be in the same room with Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland? No, they’re just going along with the GOP leadership in saying they don’t want Garland to have a hearing and a vote on his nomination. It’s not unanimous among Republicans.... Garland is one of the most respected judges in the country, and as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia already has passed muster with the Senate, with the support of Republicans.... Other senators should have risen in defense of the constitutional process and of the president’s right to nominate someone and the Senate’s duty to give the person a hearing. But no, Burr and Tillis are meekly going along with it."

EDITORIAL: Unions Win, but the Court Is Still Hobbled (New York Times, 03/30/16)
"Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has said his party’s attitude is “about a principle, not a person.” Yet at the same time he has rejected Mr. Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit, on the grounds that he is opposed by the National Rifle Association. The Washington Post reported on Monday that a longtime lawyer for the N.R.A., Charles Cooper, is a great admirer of Judge Garland, who he once said would be “among President Clinton’s very best judicial appointments.” It’s no surprise that other Republicans are also struggling to defend their do-nothing stance, and bungling their messages in the process. ...Every day that Senate Republicans refuse to give Judge Garland the consideration he is due, they are embarrassing themselves and ignoring the voices of the people."

EDITORIAL: Test for Toomey: Do your job ... (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 03/30/16)
"Despite the fact that Judge Garland is a former prosecutor who has been tough on criminal justice and earned the past praise of Republicans, Mr. Toomey and his GOP colleagues are pursuing a brazenly political gambit. Instead of doing their duty by holding a hearing and voting Judge Garland up or down, they are blocking his appointment .... Mr. Toomey, your meet-and-greet with Judge Garland isn’t enough. Pennsylvanians want you to consider him on the merits, then vote. In other words, do your job"

EDITORIAL: An empty seat on the Supreme Court leaves law unsettled (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 03/29/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court is entering no-man’s land, a place where key legal issues aren’t resolved and political paralysis reigns. The high court found itself tied 4 to 4 .... President Obama’s pick for the high court, Merrick Garland ... remains stalled by obdurate Republican senators who want to wait until after the November election, hoping to give a GOP president a chance to make the pick. That strategy denies Obama his right to make a choice, one of his duties of office.... Unless the Senate’s Republican leadership relents, this might be just the first in a series of deadlocks that effectively prevent the high court from having the final say on significant matters of constitutional law."

EDITORIAL: Critics of Moran are off-base, foolish (Hutchinson News [KS], 03/29/16)
"Republican Party criticism of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas for saying that senators need to fulfill a job requirement and have a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee is terribly off-base and myopic.... Moran recognizes that the U.S. Constitution requires the Senate to execute the confirmation process for nominees to the federal judiciary. No one should fear, however, that Moran will vote to confirm Garland. Last week, Moran issued a statement that indicated he already had prejudged the nominee .... Maybe Moran is just politically astute enough to realize that the Senate refusing even to have a hearing on the nomination is a suicide strategy .... Garland had plenty of Republican support when he was confirmed for his current position as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.... Moran hasn’t gone rogue on his party by any stretch. He’s far more politically savvy than the peanut gallery in Kansas. And he just might actually remember that he did take an oath of office to a constitutional duty as a U.S. senator, an oath that isn’t wise to discard haphazardly."

EDITORIAL: Tie Supreme Court vote illustrates Senate GOP’s folly (San Diego Union-Tribune [CA] , 03/29/16)
"The expected 4-4 Supreme Court deadlock in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case is a fresh reminder of the folly of Senate Republicans refusing to take up Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for the high court. We need to have a fully staffed court to resolve important legal questions of the day, not have them trapped in limbo because of a stalemate .... How absurd. But unless the Senate does its job, such absurdities may become common. This is already a national embarrassment."

Editorial: A Victory For Workers; A Supreme Court tie decision eliminates a financial threat for public unions (La Opinión, 03/29/16)
"The tie decision is an example of the lack of resolution that entails leaving a long vacancy on the Supreme Court, as it seems is going to be the case if the Senate fails to confirm Merrick Garland, the judge nominated to replace Scalia."

EDITORIAL: Moran’s take: Tea-party faithful overreact to Kansas senator’s thoughts (Garden City Telegram [KS], 03/28/16)
"“I would rather have you (constituents) complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” Moran told listeners. “I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria, but I have my job to do. I think the process ought to go forward.”...overreaction to Moran suggesting that he and fellow senators should do their job was ridiculous, especially as Moran never said he would embrace Obama’s nominee. That said, our senator hardly deserves applause for wanting to do his job....Garland is far from liberal (some Democrats decried Obama’s choice). Garland also was confirmed for his current federal bench post with high praise from conservative Republicans. Republicans’ mistake was in declaring its opposition before a nominee even was named.... U.S. senators should, as Moran said, just do their job."

EDITORIAL: Doing his job (Hays Daily News [KS], 03/28/16)
"When Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said last week: “I would rather have (constituents) complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” we stood ready to applaud him. After all, there simply aren’t many Republican senators showing interest in providing advice and consent on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. ... ultraconservative groups unabashedly prefer gridlock over governance — and apparently have little respect for the Constitution they say they cherish. Moran, on the other hand, earned his law degree at the University of Kansas. He also learned common sense growing up in Plainville and residing in Hays for years. And, as he told the Rotary Club in Cimarron, he wants to do his job.... Before the furor even subsided, however, Moran’s office issued another press release. This one was unequivocal. “I am opposed to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and this administration’s attempt to put another liberal judge on the Supreme Court,” the statement reads. So much for wanting to do his job. Having a hearing is worthless if one’s mind already is made up.... The retraction does, however, close the door on a majority of constituents who simply would like Moran and his colleagues to get on with their constitutional duty to give the president’s nominee a hearing. We were hoping the senator saw us as the ones he worked for"

These 429 Editorials by 261 newspaper editorial boards in 49 states and DC represent well over 90 percent of the newspaper editorial board opinions revealed by comprehensive online research. Click on State names on first page for Editorial Board links/excerpts for each State.

EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate's judicial stalling harms federal courts; Eighth Circuit nominee is among those in a troubling holding pattern. (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 03/28/16)
"The Senate’s failure to even consider confirming President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is by itself a lapse in constitutional duty and an extreme exercise in partisanship. But Judge Merrick Garland isn’t the only Obama nominee to the courts who’s getting a cold shoulder. A near-complete shutdown of judicial confirmations seems to be in effect .... In addition to Garland, 41 nominations sent to the Republican-controlled Senate by the Democratic president are in a holding pattern. As of March 25, the judgeships they were nominated to fill had been vacant for an average of 564 days. Eleven of the 41 have been vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and sent to the Senate floor .... In all of 2015, the Senate acted on just 11 judicial nominees. One of the nominees waiting for committee action is Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl, a 14-year federal prosecutor from Fargo, N.D. She was tapped by the president in January to fill a seat on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals .... the busy Eighth Circuit’s need for her service is great. What’s more, she represents the chance to bring needed diversity to a court that saw the appointment of only its second woman in history in 2013. ... Making an appellate-court nominee of Puhl’s caliber wait for confirmation until after this fall’s election — or longer — serves no good purpose and risks a number of bad results."

Editorial: Sen. John Cornyn should steer party away from obstructionist path (Dallas Morning News, 03/28/16)
"Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has done the right thing -- and the smart thing, politically -- by bucking the example of his party’s bosses, including our own Sen. John Cornyn. We urge Cornyn, who is this state’s senior senator and a former member of the Texas Supreme Court, to find his own voice and set a new course for his party. ... When voters made the GOP the majority, the Senate’s new leaders immediately pledged to return the senate to “regular order.”... But the party’s recalcitrance on the Supreme Court threatens to obliterate any claim to a return to civility and respect for the institution. We feel this course risks ruin for the Senate GOP .... Consider the op-ed Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote .... He said Democrats have no right to complain because they opposed past nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. And as senator, Obama had opposed John Roberts and Samuel Alito, too. What he left out was that each and every one of those nominees had been given a hearing, a debate and a vote. Only Robert Bork, the most extreme nominee put forth by a president in modern era, was denied a seat on the court. Hatch’s arguments follow on weeks of statements from Cornyn and McConnell about the so-called ‘Biden Rule.’ There is no such thing and never has been."

Today's Editorial: Meet nominee and cast vote (Daily Item [PA], 03/28/16)
"Shame on Sen. Toomey. The American people have twice entrusted Barack Obama to make this decision. ... At the very least the Senate should bring Garland before the entire body. If the GOP-controlled Senate wants to reject Garland – a tough sell considering he was called a “consensus nominee” by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) after he was overwhelmingly confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals nearly two decades ago – then it can proceed. Toomey’s belief that waiting for a new president “is the best approach” to overcome what could be a potential shift in the “balance” of the court” isn’t what’s best for the people of America, and his constituents in Pennsylvania.... We hope the meeting leads the senator to a change of heart and a shift toward doing the job Pennsylvania voters sent him to Washington to do."

Editorial: Supreme Court stalemate needs to be broken (Times-News [Burlington, NC], 03/27/16)
"Last month, in remarks delivered before Scalia’s death, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lamented the politicization of the confirmation process....It’s better for the Senate generally to focus on qualifications and accept that every president, by virtue of his election, has the right to try to shape the court. Presidents, meanwhile, should realize that if they put forward nominees who are too far outside the mainstream, the Senate will put up a fight. Based on his comments last month, it would seem that the chief justice agrees. He would be doing his court and the Constitution a favor by explicitly calling on the Senate to do its job and give Garland a fair hearing."

Editorial: Senate muffling the voices of nearly 66 million voters (Reading Eagle [PA] , 03/26/16)
"We said it a month ago, and we'll repeat it with redoubled force now that we have the nominee's name: The Senate should hold hearings on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court selection."

Editorial: Try the truth for once (N'West Iowa REVIEW, 03/26/16)
"There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says the Senate should delay filling the seat. All the Constitution commands is for the Senate to “advise and consent” on the president’s choice. Ignoring McConnell’s vow not to confirm a new justice, President Barrack Obama went ahead and nominated one anyway — Merrick Garland, currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals.... But at some point, one would hope, the partisanship will need to be tamped down. Unless Americans are prepared to see even more empty chairs in the nation’s highest court."

Editorial: Let's hear from Justice Roberts (Milford Daily News [MA], 03/26/16)
"The excuses Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are making for their refusal to let the Senate perform its constitutional responsibility range from tenuous to absurd. “The people” should determine the next justice in the November election, say these self-described strict constructionists, ignoring the logic of the Constitution. If the Founders had wanted the people to choose federal judges, they wouldn’t have given them lifetime appointments.... Bork was given a hearing and a vote in the Senate (he was rejected by a bipartisan, 58-42 vote), a courtesy McConnell refuses to grant President Obama’s nominee.... Chief Justice Roberts surely understands the flaws in McConnell’s argument,... He should say it again in Washington, and demand the confirmation of Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee, proceed in the dignified manner precedent and the Constitution prescribe."

EDITORIAL: Well done, Sen. Moran; Kansas breaks from Republican lockstep (Manhattan Mercury [KS], 03/26/16)
"We offer a handful of thoughts about Jerry Moran’s decision, announced last week at a town hall meeting in Cimarron, that the Senate should hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland."

EDITORIAL: NO MORE GAMES Moran takes principled stand against hypocrisy (Ottawa Herald [KS], 03/26/16)
TOMMY FELTS Herald Editor and Publisher: "Jerry Moran has a job to do. Speaking Monday during a small town hall meeting in Cimarron, U.S. Sen. Moran, R-Kansas, broke from the lockstep orders of the GOP, quietly announcing he would be willing to consider the U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee recently offered by President Obama.... If that sounds like a reasonable position for a responsible lawmaker, you’re paying attention. Moran didn’t say he’d vote to confirm the nominee — simply that he’d play his elected role in the process.... A real example of political convenience: self-righteously seeking to curtail the constitutional nomination process just because the opposing party temporarily controls the White House."

EDITORIAL: GOP should heed Roberts (Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald [PA], 03/25/16)
"In a speech at the New England School of Law just 10 days before the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Roberts called on the Senate to consider nominees’ qualifications and leave politics out of it.... President Obama’s two appointees on the court, Justices Elena Kagan (63-37) and Sonya Sotomayor (68-31), were confirmed much more narrowly even though Roberts, in his recent speech, characterized both as eminently qualified. In his 2005 confirmation hearing, the chief justice was asked about some of his colleagues on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He characterized Judge Merrick Garland, now the chief judge of that court and Obama’s current nominee to the Supreme Court, as being highly capable and accomplished. Senate Republicans should heed the chief justice and end their blind, politically motivated obstruction and conduct a fair confirmation process for Garland."

Editorial: Senate should vote on Merrick Garland nomination (Greenville [SC] News, 03/25/16)
"Elections have consequences.... The way Republicans are reacting to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court demonstrates complete ignorance of this idea. ...It is a shameful refrain that has been picked up by a long list of Republican senators including South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.... Voters have had their say. Obama was fairly elected. Twice. The Constitution allows him at any time in his term to nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill a vacancy. The Senate has a constitutional obligation to offer advice and consent on that nomination. In that spirit, the Senate should hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on Garland’s nomination."