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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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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."

Editorial Board: Senate must act on court vacancy (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 06/26/16)
"It has been more than three months since President Barack Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the month before. And the GOP-controlled Senate, playing pure politics, has refused to act on the nomination until after the November election. On Thursday, a 4-4 Supreme Court failed to reach an opinion on a case that tested the administration’s authority to use the discretion it has always had to prioritize the deportation of those most in need of removal. ... The deadlock brings into stark relief the result when the Senate shirks its constitutional obligation to deny or confirm a nominee for the high court. It has refused to give Garland a hearing....there is also the injury caused simply because the Supreme Court cannot do its job without a tie-breaking vote. Laws and actions go uninterpreted, and this lack of clarity disrupts lives. The Senate must do its job. Give Garland a hearing."

EDITORIAL: Supreme Court's immigration failure (Baltimore Sun, 06/26/16)
"Now, it's up to lower courts to decide the issue as a matter of law since a deadlocked Supreme Court failed to set precedent — which, incidentally, is a vivid reminder of how the choice of GOP Senate leadership not to even hold hearings on Merrick Garland, Mr. Obama's nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat, leaves a vacancy that will hamstring the nation's highest court for a year or more."

Editorial: Deadlock on immigration (El Paso Times [TX], 06/25/16)
"The Supreme Court handed down a widely anticipated split decision that effectively blocks President Obama’s executive actions on immigration enforcement. The decision is perhaps the best illustration yet of the policy paralysis of our largely dysfunctional federal government.... a final determination will be left to a future Supreme Court. The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. Garland likely couldn’t have been confirmed in time to participate in this case, but Republican leaders see the 4-4 split as vindication of their obstinance. Political paralysis is now feeding on itself."

EDITORIAL: Immigrants are left in the same shadowy limbo (Corpus Christi Caller-Times [TX], 06/25/16)
"About 5 million undocumented parents of legal residents suffered a blow last week from the Supreme Court's tie vote on President Obama's order deferring action against this nonthreatening group of immigrants.... The court's decision — or, actually, its failure to reach one — leaves the decision-making to individual lower courts until a full nine-member Supreme Court can break its tie. It does not mean there's a verdict on the constitutionality of Obama's action."

OUR VIEW: Running in place [Editorial] (Daily Mail [Catskill, NY], 06/25/16)
"It’s time for Congress to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to replace Scalia, so these embarrassing 4-4 stalemates on important issues like immigration don’t repeat themselves. Whether you subscribe to the president’s plan or whether you believe he has overstepped his bounds, a five-vote Supreme Court decision one way or the other would have been preferable to more paralysis in Washington. We can no longer afford to run in place."

Editorial: Court punts on immigration, ensuring more deadlock to come (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 06/23/16)
"If Texas and its allies truly want justice, they should now find a way to sue Congress. That’s the body responsible for the impasse on immigration. (It’s also responsible for the court deadlock, since the Senate refuses to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, for the vacant ninth seat created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February.)"

EDITORIAL: High court’s immigration ruling underscores Congress’ failures (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 06/23/16)
"In a nine-word order, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday underscored Congress’ multiple failures. As the Senate departed Washington for yet another break, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained steadfast in his refusal to convene confirmation hearings on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. The short-handed court deadlocked 4-4 and failed to resolve important questions of executive powers."

EDITORIAL: The Supreme Court leaves undocumented immigrants in the shadows (Washington Post, 06/23/16)
"The icing on the cake of misgovernance is the refusal of Senate Republicans to take up Mr. Obama’s nomination of highly qualified judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Their excuse was the upcoming presidential election, but their action essentially decrees that a president can exercise his constitutional authority to name judges for only three-quarters of his constitutional term. The result is an evenly numbered court prone to deadlock. The standoff heightens the stakes of the presidential election."

Editorial: Immigrants End Up in Limbo (La Opinión, 06/23/16)
"Such is the result of the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock caused by Antonin Scalia’s death and by the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to consider the judge nominated by the White House to occupy his seat. Thus, the dispute ends without resolution regarding whether the president’s decision to place dangerous undocumented people at the top of the priority list and take other immigrants out of it exceeds his powers."

EDITORIAL: Impasse and Heartbreak on Immigration (New York Times, 06/23/16)
"With a maddening 4-to-4 nondecision announced Thursday, the Supreme Court failed to decide the fate of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. ... The Supreme Court took the case, and deadlocked because the Republican Senate has refused to allow Mr. Obama to fill the seat left open by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. The 4-to-4 vote sets no precedent"

Mercury News editorial: Immigration ruling hard on Silicon Valley families (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 06/23/16)
"Thursday's non-decision by a paralyzed U.S. Supreme Court on President 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 either way.... it's no way to run a three-branch system of government."

Our View: Blame Congress for failed immigration court ruling; Editorial: The Supreme Court's non-ruling on Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans is a national tragedy. (Arizona Republic, 06/23/16)
"A short-handed Supreme Court deadlocked on one of the most pressing national issues, once again highlighting the failure of Congress to do its job. The 4-4 tie on the legality of President Obama’s executive action on immigration leaves millions of undocumented parents of U.S. citizen or legal resident children in limbo.... But significant legal questions about whether Obama’s actions exceeded his authority remain unanswered by the highest court in the land. This case will provide no guidance to future presidents.... that’s an unfortunate outcome that reflects the challenges faced by a court that’s been one justice short since the death of Antonin Scalia. It points to the failure of Congress to even consider a highly qualified Supreme Court nominee from a two-term, sitting president.... Republicans who control Congress should not be crowing about the court victory by default over a Democratic president. They should be telling the American people their plans for immigration reform and restoring the court to nine justices."

Editorial: A deadlocked Supreme Court has real consequences for 4 million people (Los Angeles Times, 06/23/16)
"Here is a real-world consequence of the Senate Republican leadership’s refusal to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court: the dashed hopes of more than 4 million immigrants living in fear of deportation. Thanks to yet another 4-4 deadlock among the justices Thursday, Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” still will not go into effect, and the immigrants who would have been protected by it will not, at least for the moment, be permitted to remain in the United States legally. ,,, while we wait for it to work its way through the courts, we have a Republican-led House that won’t address immigration reform, a Republican-led Senate that has paralyzed a divided Supreme Court,"

EDITORIAL: Congress just can’t get its act together on anything except discord (Miami Herald, 06/23/16)
"Where’s a ninth Supreme Court justice when you need one? There is little doubt if the late Justice Antonin Scalia had voted, a 5-4 vote would have been a simple, declarative ruling, likely finding the president’s action unconstitutional. Of course, the result might have been the same if Senate Republicans had done the responsible thing and held hearings and a vote on Mr. Obama’s eminently qualified nominee, Merrick Garland. But their leaders have refused, to their shame. ▪ With the Supreme Court’s majority obviously in play, voters this year will have a huge say in its direction"

Editorial: Separation of powers prevails (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 06/23/16)
"Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court has deadlocked on permitting the president to grant amnesty to more than 4 million illegal immigrant .... this deadlock again highlights the ramifications of not filling the Scalia vacancy and living with an evenly divided eight-member high court .... An unelected Supreme Court has had a lot of clout — some would argue too much — but we'd still prefer one that can provide the nation a direction, even if we don't always agree with it."

Editorial: Supreme Court now our junior branch of government (Chicago Sun Times, 06/23/16)
"If Congress won’t do its job, the Supreme Court can’t do its job. That’s been the warning since the Republican-controlled Senate made it clear in March it won’t even consider filling a vacancy on the Court while Barack Obama is president — and that damage has come in no time at all. On Thursday, the short-handed Court, stuck in a 4-4 tie, was unable to deliver a definitive ruling in one of the most pressing issues facing our nation, whether to grant temporary protections against deportation to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants so that they can live stable and productive lives.... Our Constitution provides for three branches of government — the executive, the legislative and the judicial. But what we’ve got in practice, so long as an evenly divided high court is unable to rule on key constitutional issues, is about 2 1/2 branches of government.... The minute Senate Republicans announced they would not even consider the credentials of Obama’s nominee to the Court, Judge Merrick Garland, they guaranteed that filling this vacancy — and every future vacancy — would be politicized to the extreme."

Editorial: Casualties of a broken Congress, Supreme Court (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 06/23/16)
"It's up to voters in November to send a message that they want Congress to act on bipartisan immigration reform and the Supreme Court to be fully functioning rather than held political hostage.... Senate Republicans are blocking confirmation hearings for Obama's Supreme Court nominee, federal appellate Judge Merrick Garland. The Supreme Court remains one justice short since the death of Antonin Scalia earlier this year, unable to break 4-4 deadlocks. Because of the obstructionist tactics of congressional Republicans, the nation still has a broken immigration system. It has a Supreme Court incapable of reaching final decisions on key issues."

EDITORIAL: Immigration reform stalls at the Supreme Court (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 06/23/16)
"For the Supreme Court, the upshot is an unsettling reminder of the need to fill the vacancy resulting from the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The court is split evenly along liberal and conservative lines, as reflected in this 4-to-4 nondecision. That means that appeals courts — the next step down the legal ladder — have the final say because a tie vote by the high court justices leaves the last decision intact. Senate Republicans are refusing to allow Obama to fill that post. Because of this contrived stubbornness, the legal wheels aren’t turning in the nation’s third branch of government. The White House nominee, Merrick Garland, can’t even get a full Senate hearing, much less a confirmation vote. A close case will need to wait until next year and possibly months after the next president’s term begins. This is a prime example of how Washington gridlock undermines the nation’s interest."

These 559 Editorials by 288 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.

Editor's Notebook: Grassley must agree: The Supreme Court says we can ban assault rifles (Storm Lake Times [IA], 06/22/16)
Art Cullen: "The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal of state laws banning military-style assault rifles. That means that bans in New York and Connecticut may stand, because the Supreme Court can’t decide much of anything these days. It is deadlocked between four liberal justices and four judicial activists posing as conservatives. Grassley refuses to give a hearing to President Obama’s nominee, whose judicial record looks more like John Roberts’ than Thurgood Marshall’s. So the reason that the assault weapons bans will stand is because of Chuck Grassley and no one else. Garland could have voted his way."

EDITORIAL: Enough Delays – Senator Johnson Do Your Job (Milwaukee Courier [WI], 06/18/16)
"For many, it wasn’t a surprise that days after Scalia’s death, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the next president, who won’t be elected until November and sworn-in until January, should nominate a successor to fill the vacancy, not President Obama – even though it’s his Constitutional duty to do so. Many African Americans see this current wave of opposition from Republicans as much deeper than political party lines. Looking at the blatant choices from Senate Republicans to block moving forward with the confirmation process of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, it’s easy to see that this latest attempt to strip President Obama of his power is not just politics as usual.... Senator Ron Johnson must do his job. He cannot be allowed to sit back and block the President’s Supreme Court nominee. It’s only right that President Obama be given the opportunity to fulfill his Constitutional duties without the Senate continuing to block everything he does, like they’ve done for the last 8 years."

Editorial: The showdown Democrats don’t need to have (Washington Post, 06/15/16)
"No doubt the GOP poisoned the atmosphere with its obstruction of Merrick Garland, Mr. Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, and other appointees."

OUR PERSPECTIVE: DEEDS AND DUDS: Editorial: Gigs and garlands (Ledger [Lakeland, FL], 06/13/16)
"Today marks four months since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly died. Although President Barack Obama has nominated appellate Judge Merrick Garland to replace Scalia, the Republican-led Senate has rejected the idea of even holding hearings for him, much less take the opportunity to vote him down. While many believe the Senate's political gamesmanship is misguided, we're at 120 days so far"

These 556 Editorials by 287 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: Republican Senate leadership must show backbone (Waco Tribune-Herald [TX] , 06/08/16)
"They must hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and hold an up-or-down vote on him — now. ... Obama has shrewdly given Republicans a way out with a judicial moderate of impeccable credentials, now left sitting on the political sidelines."

Editorial: Ron Johnson should brush up on high court history (Cap Times [WI], 06/08/16)
"One hundred years ago this month, in the midst of an intense presidential election that would yield one of the closest results in American history, the United States Senate held hearings, debated, and then confirmed a president’s outspoken yet qualified nominee for the United States Supreme Court. They did it all in four months — on a timeline that, were it to be recreated in this election year, would see President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia confirmed by mid-July. And it was not an isolated example. Democratic and Republican presidents have frequently made Supreme Court nominations in presidential election years, and senators have frequently upheld their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent in those election years. Precedent is on the side of action on Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, a longtime member of the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. When Republican senators such as Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson argue otherwise — with their claim that it is somehow impossible or incorrect for the Senate to act on Supreme Court nominations in a presidential election year — they are spinning a partisan fantasy."

EDITORIAL: Diplomatic death among demagogues (Pine Bluff Commercial [AR], 06/08/16)
"Butts, a nominee with impeccable qualifications, never saw her dream realized because people like our own Sen. Tom Cotton thought she made a better political pawn than ambassador. Cotton inasmuch admits that blocking Butts was little more than a spite move, designed to punish President Barack Obama.... Obama’s current nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, is another fine case in point. Invoking fictitious constructions like “the Biden Rule” Senate Republicans posture and thwart, making reference to imaginary ethical standards and propriety. All the while, important constitutional cases are imperiled by deadlock. That reality finds no purchase in today’s cynical flag waving myopia. There is no precedent. History does not order this. Only the hubris of demagogues makes it so. Consider these facts, with respect to Garland’s situation. At the time of initial nomination, the Senate had almost a full year to consider and confirm the president’s choice. In the past, they never needed more than a couple of months. Since 1975, the average time from presidential nomination to senatorial confirmation is just 67 days. The longest time before confirmation in the last 30 years was 99 days, for Justice Clarence Thomas. Moreover, the last four Justices — across two very different presidential administrations — were confirmed in an average of only 75 days."

EDITORIAL: Eight is not enough: GOP blocking of a Supreme Court nominee is political, not principled (Washington Post, 06/06/16)
"Since Antonin Scalia died, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court and depriving it of a deciding ninth vote, the justices have had to punt, duck, dodge and weave around contentious issues. Justice Ginsburg provided a timely reminder that the judicial branch of government is not properly functioning, and has not been for months. Meanwhile, even as Justice Ginsburg subtly prods the nation’s politicians, those responsible for this dysfunction — Senate Republicans — are doing more than ever to discredit themselves. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ... has gone a step further, making his opposition not simply cynical but patently ridiculous.... It is absurd to claim that Mr. Garland, a nominee about whom many liberal groups are not excited, a judge whom Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) once called a “consensus nominee,” is the worst-case scenario for Republicans.... McConnell’s admission that Mr. Garland is “well-qualified” should end the discussion. The president gets to nominate; the Senate gets to object in extraordinary circumstances, but has an obligation to confirm if nominees are, as in this case, obviously qualified and within the mainstream of judicial thinking. No other arrangement can keep the system working."