Editorials and Opinion
PD Editorial: Senate’s new record for dysfunction (Press Democrat [CA] , 07/23/16)
"Wednesday was the 126th day since President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. More than four months have passed, and the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to vote on the nomination or even schedule a confirmation hearing. Some senators refuse to meet with Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Never in the 225-year history of the republic has the Senate neglected for so long its constitutional duty to advise and consent on a Supreme Court appointment.... If McConnell keeps his word, it will be the first time that the Senate has ever refused to consider a Supreme Court nominee. That would be a dangerous precedent.... McConnell disingenuously insists it would be inappropriate for senators to vote on a Supreme Court nomination during the final year of Obama’s term.
Obama, like all presidents, was elected for four years, not three....Obama, in his commentary, urged not only a vote on Garland but a commitment from senators in both parties to guarantee a hearing and a vote on all Supreme Court nominees within a fixed period of time. The idea originated with President George W. Bush.
It’s an idea worthy of a bipartisan compromise."
Editorial: 125 Day Delay on Supreme Court Nominee Prompts Citizens to Act (Milwaukee Courier [WI], 07/23/16)
"Last week marked 125 days since President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
This is the longest-ever in the history of the United States Supreme Court that a nominee has had to wait for a fair hearing or a vote. Concerned citizens went to Sen. Ron Johnson’s Milwaukee district office to present him with a leadership award for his unprecedented Senate obstructionism. The award is an act to get Sen. Johnson and other Senate Republicans to give a fair vote and a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland.... Chief Judge Merrick Garland has wide bipartisan support"
EDITORIAL: Top picks clear in most races (Salina Journal [KS], 07/22/16)
"We were disappointed in [Sen. Jerry] Moran, however, when he bowed to pressure from the right and decided not to support holding hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, after initially saying he would support hearings."
Editorial: Poll finds Missouri voters more open to change than politicians (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 07/22/16)
"Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., last week issued a head-scratcher of a Missouri political poll…. surprising findings: … Fifty-nine percent of Missouri voters want the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court."
Editorial: GOP senators taking huge risk with standoff over nominee (Longmont Daily Times-Call [CO], 07/22/16)
"Senate inaction on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland is not unconstitutional per se. But clearly, it's political — and, for the body given the power of "advice and consent," is more glaringly wrong-headed and impractical as this impasse stretches.
As of this week, Judge Garland has gone longer than any other Supreme Court nominee without being confirmed or rejected.... Republicans in the Senate are taking a risk — a huge risk — in planning on a holdout that could last 11 months.... As part of their constitutional charge to provide advice and consent, these senators should do their job and begin the confirmation process for Merrick Garland. Vet this judge and vote on him"
EDITORIAL: The Report Card for July 21 (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 07/20/16)
"Staff grades: F to the continued logjam on judicial appoints in the U.S. Senate, which of course includes a Supreme Court nominee who’s been languishing without a hearing for more than four months. Last week a batch of other nominees were presented for votes, only to be shot down by N.C.’s junior Senator, Thom Tillis, saying that “What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs.’’ ... considering the stonewalling on judges, it is in fact easy to say the Senate isn’t doing its job. One of the vacant seats, for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, has been empty for 10 and a half years."
EDITORIAL: Zika threat gets worse, Congress skips town (Miami Herald, 07/20/16)
"In fact, and as shameful, Congress left a long list of unfinished business before lawmakers went off to campaign for reelection and attend the political conventions: a measure to prevent terrorists from acquiring firearms, scores of judicial confirmations, a broad criminal justice reform bill, basic appropriations bills and much more. And, of course, the Supreme Court nomination the Senate refused to hear."
Editorial: 'Full Grassley' isn't all that it's cracked up to be (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/20/16)
"Progress Iowa is correct to question whether “The Full Grassley” is all that it’s cracked up to be.
Case in point: In late March, amidst the furor over Grassley’s refusal to hold confirmation hearings on the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, the senator met with hundreds of constituents across western Iowa. But only three of his 19 planned events during that congressional spring recess were publicly announced town hall meetings — and those were in the three most heavily Republican counties in the state."
Editorial: Congress skips out on vital business (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 07/20/16)
"The fact remains they left important business hanging as they headed for the airport.
For instance, Idaho is awaiting confirmation of David Nye as federal judge. He was nominated to be the state’s second federal district judge, replacing Judge Edward Lodge who took senior status last July. The state has been getting by with just one federal district judge for a year. Now it will wait another seven weeks, at best.
The Senate Judiciary Committee finally voted to confirm Nye on Thursday, but he can’t begin work until the full Senate takes a vote. Seventeen other judges have been waiting even longer to be confirmed. Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, can’t even get a hearing.
Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Z. Russell, who covers Idaho politics, conducted research on “August” recesses and found this to be the longest one since they began, in 1971."
EDITORIAL: Objection!: Ginsburg should have kept her counsel on Trump (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 07/15/16)
"There are now eight rather than nine working justices since the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in February. President Barack Obama, acting in his constitutional role, nominated Judge Merrick Garland in March to succeed Justice Scalia. The Republicans in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have refused to consider Judge Garland’s nomination until after the election, ... . This partisan maneuver, with no constitutional justification, has left the Supreme Court short one justice and ideologically deadlocked on some issues."
EDITORIAL: No final answer (Storm Lake Times [IA], 07/06/16)
"There’s no question that immigrants feel deflated after the US Supreme Court last week effectively ended the Obama Administration’s attempt to shield several million undocumented people from deportation. ... The Supreme Court was deadlocked on whether the appeal should be heard. That’s because Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will not allow a hearing for Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.... Congress is not doing its job. It is not reviewing Supreme Court nominees. Grassley prefers to play games."
In Our View: Courting the next president [EDITORIAL] (Santa Maria Times [CA], 07/06/16)
"Here’s a semi-rhetorical question — who is hurt by a U.S. Supreme Court with eight justices instead of nine? Here’s our non-rhetorical answer — just about everyone.
Our point was made clear last week when the short-handed court deadlocked 4-4 on President Obama’s de facto immigration reform executive order, thus sending the lower-court ruling against Obama’s law back into a state of legal limbo.... There is a fair chance the next president will have an opportunity to nominate two candidates for Supreme Court seats,.... That scenario alone is reason enough to vote in November."
EDITORIAL: State Republicans cast lot with pride and prejudice (Daily Reflector [Greenville, NC], 07/06/16)
"If Donald Trump does not win in November, Republicans might regret the decision of their leadership to withhold consideration of President Obama’s temperately conservative Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, should this case travel that far."
EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate, do your job — confirm judges (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 07/05/16)
"Nebraska got some good news from the U.S. Senate on June 27 when it voted 90-0 to confirm Robert F. Rossiter Jr. to the ... District of Nebraska to fill an emergency vacancy.
Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has been praised for her work to see that the Senate took this vote. But the 90-0 vote shows that there was no opposition to Rossiter, so why did it take this long?
And the filling of this one judicial vacancy just raises the question of why the Senate has been unable to fill dozens of other vacancies throughout the country. It has allowed just 21 judicial nominees to be confirmed since the start of this Congress, even though judicial vacancies have nearly doubled in the past 18 months and the number of judicial emergencies has increased from 12 to 29.... Vacancies are continuing to prevent our country’s justice system from operating smoothly throughout the country.
There are now more than 80 judicial vacancies in all, ... and 20 federal judicial vacancies that have nominees ....
When judicial vacancies go unfilled, Americans suffer through costly delays in trials. We have seen ... how critical the shortage caused by Antonin Scalia’s death is in the court’s efforts to make decisions.
With the Senate set to go on a seven-week break on July 15, it is time for our country’s senators to do one of the crucial tasks they were elected to do, vote on more of these judicial nominee[s]."
Editorial, 7/2: Immigration reform is up to Congress (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 07/02/16)
"The American system of government works when policy on controversial major issues is hammered out in Congress.
These days major issues don’t even reach the voting stage.
The high court’s 4-4 tie and the lack of any statement on the merits of the case spotlighted the refusal of Republican leaders in the Senate to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee. The U.S. Supreme Court could be forced to operate without its ninth justice for months or years."
EDITORIAL: End the Senate’s useless judicial obstructionism (Butler Eagle [PA], 06/30/16)
"President Barack Obama nominated Judge Horan for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania nearly a year ago. She would fill one of three seats on the court which have been vacant since 2013. A fourth seat became vacant this year .... there’s been no timetable put forward for a full vote by the Senate to send her or any of the dozens of other judicial nominees awaiting confirmation to the federal bench.
That’s a shameful and harmful state of affairs which Pennsylvania voters shouldn’t tolerate. District courts across the country hear hundreds of thousands of cases annually, and need a full complement of judges to function properly.... this U.S. Senate is allowing an entire corner of Pennsylvania to go without a sitting federal judge.... In the case of Judge Horan and district court nominees like her, the Senate’s obstructionist tactics aren’t just harmful, they are nonsensical. These appointees aren’t political statements by the president or even generally controversial in any way. Both Horan and Baxter have been endorsed by Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat.
Yet the Senate’s destructive behavior, meant to harm Obama but managing only to punish sitting federal judges and the citizens these courts are meant to serve, continues."
PD Editorial: Kennedy’s court shaping the law (Press Democrat [CA] , 06/30/16)
Justice "Kennedy is Exhibit No. 1 in the case against the Senate’s refusal to even schedule a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s choice to succeed Scalia.
President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy, a fellow Californian, in November 1987 — with less than a year remaining in his final Oval Office term. Reagan picked Kennedy ... . The Senate, controlled by Democrats, confirmed Kennedy on a unanimous vote barely two months later.
Despite the efforts of Kennedy and his colleagues, the failure to fill Scalia’s seat rendered the court unable to settle several major issues, including aspect of Obamacare and dues collections by public employee unions. There’s no assurance that the court will have another chance at these issues soon, nor is there any guarantee that the vacancy will be filled soon after November’s election. ... three justices will be at least 78 when the next president is inaugurated. Kennedy will be 80. If the Senate turn the court into another partisan battlefield, Kennedy’s court could soon be filled with empty chairs."
Editorial: Congress, court need to move past gridlock (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 06/29/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has now joined the U.S. Congress in gridlock.
In a 4-4 split last week, the court was unable to decide whether President Barack Obama’s immigration plan and actions were legal....Of course, the court is deadlocked because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. That left the court with only eight justices and with the possibility of tie votes.
And when Republicans in Congress failed to even consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia, the country was guaranteed that the court will be unable to decide some key issues.
Garland would not have taken the Supreme Court seat in time to weigh in on the immigration case even if the Senate had confirmed his appointment. However, there’s no telling how long it will take to fill the seat since Republican senators have insisted that it wait until after the November election. Cases heard in October, November, December, January, February and onward may even still be in jeopardy of tie votes.
The real issue is the gridlock in Congress. Anger with Washington has spilled over to the polls this election year."
Editorial, 6/29 (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/29/16)
"Dysfunction pervades the nation’s capital. ... Senate Republicans continue to refuse to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.
On an issue close to home the Senate this week finally confirmed Omaha attorney Robert Rossiter Jr. as a federal judge for Nebraska. The position had been vacant since October, 2014, with a workload in the district so heavy that it was classified as “judicial emergency.” There was nothing controversial about Rossiter’s nomination. Nonetheless it took the Senate a year to act once President Barack Obama nominated him."
Editorial: Garland GOP's best bet? (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 06/28/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed two controversial rights, confirming its leftward shift, Merrick Garland or no Merrick Garland.... The moderate Garland may be Republicans' best bet."
EDITORIAL: Immigration ruling hard on California (Daily Democrat [CA] , 06/28/16)
"Last week’s non-decision by a paralyzed U.S. Supreme Court on President Barack Obama’s immigration policy reflects congressional failure on two levels.
One is Senate Republicans’ refusal to even vote on Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. The vacant seat leaves the court doomed to tie votes on divisive issues that should be resolved.... But this isn’t just about immigrants. The high court has been operating with eight justices instead of its full complement of nine since Scalia died. Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s place, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or a vote.... a Supreme Court tie is akin to the court having never heard the case at all, a waste of time and effort. ... we would rather have a full nine-person Court capable of taking definitive stands on complex issues rather than leaving the laws of our country in limbo."
EDITORIAL: High court can't do its job when the Senate punts on court nominees (Savannah Morning News [GA] , 06/28/16)
"Last week’s 4-4 tie on the U.S. Supreme Court over President Obama’s immigration policy underscores at least three things. It shows again that the U.S. Senate is hamstringing the high court by refusing to consider Obama’s nominee to the vacancy there. And it illustrates the importance of carefully picking the next president, who will pick the next justice and quite possibly more. The balance of the court is at stake.... The reach of executive power is exactly the sort of constitutional issue that should be decided by the Supreme Court, not by one of 12 regional appeals courts. But without a 9th justice to break a tie, it gets punted.... Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in March to fill the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Senate Republicans have blocked even a hearing on Garland, saying it should be the next president’s job, not this one’s, to fill the seat. It is yet another way for Republicans to register their contempt for the Democratic president.
Who knows when a new justice could even get seated, or how many 4-4 ties will result before that happens. We do know that the Senate has delayed that day and shrugged its responsibility by refusing to consider a highly qualified nominee named by the sitting president of the United States."
Editorial: Extreme partisanship blocks judges, cripples federal courts (Palm Beach Post [FL], 06/27/16)
"Think it’s bad that we have an empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court?
Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Senate Republicans have been so successful in their strategy of obstructing any nominees by President Barack Obama that there are now 89 vacancies in the federal courts system.
Waiting to fill those spots are 58 nominees, the limbo for some going back almost a year and a half. That includes South Florida attorney Mary Barzee Flores, whose nomination 16 months ago has been blocked by her own senator, Marco Rubio. ... federal courts are where citizens go to protect important constitutional rights on voting access, the environment and discrimination. It’s where consumers and workers go to hold corporations accountable. With those courts crippled, essential liberties may be eroded."
Journal Times editorial: Deadlock and gridlock, in Congress and the courts (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 06/27/16)
"Deadlock and gridlock.
That apparently is the continued path for the U.S. government on immigration reform thanks to a 4-4 split on President Barack Obama’s plan to shield five million immigrants from deportation and allow them to go to work.
The high court’s ruling was not unexpected. Thanks to GOP opposition to allowing a vote on the president’s nomination of a ninth high court justice in hopes of getting a Republican president to make that pick, the Supreme Court will continue to deadlock on consequential decisions.... Deadlock and gridlock in Congress and in the court."
EDITORIAL: System wasn't designed for tie votes (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 06/27/16)
"Thanks to Grassley, the court has been without a ninth member since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed, since Scalia was buried, he wouldn’t permit anyone nominated by the president to receive a hearing before the committee. ... It’s a powerful position, and Grassley is using it to promote his anti-Obama agenda, under the powerful gaze of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who pulls the strings of his Republican underlings in the senate.
Trust us, if McConnell gave his blessing to having hearings on the president’s qualified nominee, judge Merrick Garland, then Grassley would have conducted the hearings.
The senate’s role in judicial appointments is advise and consent, not to obstruct for political purposes. Grassley said the next president should get to pick Scalia’s replacement. It’s nonsense. It’s not what the authors of the Constitution had in mind.... And the system works, when those elected to oversee it let the system work. Grassley isn’t doing that. And he’s been pretty smug to those who would criticize his indifference to the beauty of the judicial-confirmation process envisioned more than two centuries ago.
An eight-member court is a disservice to the American people. And that’s laying at the feet of the senator."