Editorials and Opinion
EDITORIAL: Merrick Garland and our divided U.S. Supreme Court (Anniston Star [AL] , 05/31/16)
"Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate are standing firm: no hearing or confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland until after someone other than President Barack Obama takes over the Oval Office.
That decision — shortsighted, bullheaded, disruptive — is having ramifications.
The biggest is on the court itself. An eight-justice Supreme Court still operates, but its rulings are marked with an asterisk"
EDITORIAL BOARD: Who deserves praise and criticism this week in northern Utah? (Standard-Examiner [Ogden, UT], 05/30/16)
"THUMBS DOWN: To U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who penned an op-ed about meeting Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland but reaffirming his belief that the Senate needed to delay hearings on a new justice — before meeting with Garland.... Essentially, Hatch crafted a piece of fiction. His intransigence has become an embarrassment."
EDITORIAL: Sen. Hatch… meet Judge Garland (Manhattan Mercury [KS], 05/27/16)
"It was just a little accident of timing, but it revealed how little progress Democrats have made in advancing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. The mistake also reveals the sham that is the Republican show of courtesy to Judge Garland. The mistake? An op-ed column by Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that was published in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News."
PD Editorial: Supreme Court held hostage: Day 70 (Press Democrat [CA] , 05/25/16)
"The Republican-controlled Senate is threatening to take the Capitol to historic depths of partisanship by refusing to take action, leaving the Supreme Court locked in a potential 4-4 split well into its next term.
Some say it’s just politics. But it’s worse than that. It’s a dereliction of duty, one the comes without regard for the potential long-term impacts on the nation’s judicial system.
The 70 days is already longer that the length of time taken to vet Chief Justice John Roberts,... Perhaps the greatest injustice is to Garland himself who is more than qualified for the position and would most likely receive bipartisan support — as he did when overwhelmingly confirmed for the D.C. Circuit court in 1997 — if and when nomination hearings are ever scheduled.... the American public continues to wait for the U.S. Senate do its job. So far the wait has been 70 days.
If the Senate acts now, it would still have plenty of time to have Garland vetted and confirmed before the Supreme Court begins its new term in October."
Editorial, 5/22: High court limping along (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 05/22/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court’s non-ruling on the contraceptive mandate shows how functional decay in the legislative branch has now spread to the judicial branch.... “The court expresses no view on the merits of the cases,” the justices said in an unusual, unsigned opinion.
It’s difficult to imagine this outcome if the court was operating at full strength with nine justices.
But Republicans in the Senate have refused to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Merrick Garland, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.
This leaves the court with a 4-4 split on some hot-button topics.... But the high court’s most important role under the U.S. Constitution is to rule with finality on important legal questions.
The refusal by the U.S. Senate to fulfill its responsibility leaves the nation’s high court hamstrung. The non-ruling on religious freedom shows the high court’s justices are doing the best they can, but uncertainty and delay are growing."
EDITORIAL: In our opinion: Divided 8-judge Supreme Court not in America's best interest (Deseret News [UT] , 05/21/16)
"[A] Supreme Court with only eight justices has the potential to create a great deal of problems going forward.... The result is a situation where such deadlocks are making the Supreme Court increasingly unable to adequately fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.
This is no accident. Republicans in Congress have made no secret of their desire to delay filling the court vacancy until a new president is elected. While the rationale for doing so is hotly debated, in practical terms, there’s an awful lot of uncertainty inherent to that approach.... But there is a principle at stake here that transcends partisan politics. The legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government were intended to provide a system of checks and balances, so it’s more than a little unsettling to see one branch of government so contemptuous of another that they’re willing to effectively sideline the judiciary for an entire year. Surely Congress has a responsibility to at least give the president’s nominee a fair hearing. The Supreme Court may not always issue decisions with which Congress, republicans, or even this newspaper will agree, but the court's constitutional authority deserves more respect than it is currently being afforded."
Tulsa World Editorial: Supreme Court nondecision on 'Obamacare' points to the need for Senate action on the Garland nomination (Tulsa World [OK], 05/20/16)
"With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February and the refusal of the Republican U.S. Senate majority to take up President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, the court is moving ahead with eight members, which it appears is not enough to make a decision on this closely watched case.... No one wins when the Supreme Court is deadlocked, least of all the nation.
The Senate needs to do its job: Consider the Garland nomination. Reject him if he isn’t acceptable. Confirm him if he is. But don’t leave the Supreme Court in limbo, short one justice and no path to a resolution."
Decoding the Trump Eleven for the Supreme Court: By the editorial board of The Anniston Star (Anniston Star [AL] , 05/20/16)
"Scalia died 11 months before the end of President Barack Obama’s second term. The president nominated a replacement — federal Judge Merrick B. Garland — not long after. During a typical Senate confirmation process, the Senate would consider Garland over the spring and summer. If his nomination was approved by a majority of senators, Garland could be seated on the Supreme Court well before the presidential election on Nov. 8.
This is not a typical Senate confirmation process, however. Within hours of Scalia’s death, the Senate’s Republican majority declared that no Obama nominee would be considered in the president’s final year in the White House. So far, they’ve stuck to that commitment. Garland can’t get a hearing. Garland can’t receive a vote on his nomination. Senate Republicans have gone on strike.... It likely doesn’t play as well with the rest of the nation who see this episode example of a do-nothing Congress.
Thanks to Trump’s list, we now have a reminder that there is already one name placed before senators who should perform their constitutional duty and either confirm or reject his nomination."
Editorial: Trump’s would-be justices (Detroit News [MI], 05/19/16)
"President Barack Obama nominated Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to replace Scalia.
Garland is a well-respected centrist who should, by the way, get a hearing from the Senate."
The Star's Editorial: GOP senators should stop dithering on hearing for Merrick Garland as Supreme Court justice (Kansas City Star, 05/19/16)
"Senate Republicans should be kicking themselves for taking such a hard line on filling the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
Immediately after Scalia’s death in February, Republicans proclaimed they would not give any nominee of President Barack Obama the dignity of a hearing, let alone a vote.
Their stark message: To hell with the Constitution, separation of powers and any semblance of cooperation.
Properly undeterred, Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a highly qualified, moderate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and former prosecutor.... The hissy fits continued anyway. Republican senators, including Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas and Roy Blunt of Missouri, still refuse to act.
But that position is a lot less attractive now ... In opposing Garland, Republicans initially focused on the specious argument that the “people” who elect the next president should be rewarded with the choice, not those who elected the current president.
Public opinion is shifting in favor of a Senate hearing. Twitter is full of #doyourjob jabs at GOP senators. And a majority of Americans now favors holding a hearing on Garland, according to recent polls.
But Republican leaders continue to thumb their noses at Obama, Garland, the public and the Constitution.
Roberts, Moran and Blunt should step up, be leaders of their frazzled party and call for a vote."
EDITORIAL: Szeliga's tepid statement on SCOTUS nominee (Frederick News-Post [MD], 05/18/16)
"[T]his isn’t “partisan politics.” It’s party — singular — politics. ... it’s the Republicans in Congress manufacturing this controversy, so terrified they are of a “liberal” majority in the Supreme Court. It wasn’t Obama who “politicized a Supreme Court appointment.” He acted quickly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia to fill the vacancy. By refusing to meet with his nominee or hold confirmation hearings, it is GOP senators quaffing the political Kool-Aid here. ... Obama has every right to nominate any candidate he sees fit for the open SCOTUS seat, ...his nomination is in keeping with the Constitution, and ... [the Senate should] hold an up-or-down vote on Garland — a chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals with an impeccable record, stellar reputation and moderate credentials. In other words, a candidate who’d be quickly appointed had he been nominated by any president other than Obama."
The Record: Court punts [EDITORIAL] (Record [NJ] , 05/18/16)
"The court's 8-0 decision to send a contraception case linked to the Affordable Care Act back to the lower courts was yet more evidence that the court needs a full complement of nine justices; it has had only eight since the death in February of Justice Antonin Scalia.... the court cannot function properly with only eight justices. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the court shortly after Scalia's death, but the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to consider the nomination. The Senate's failure to do its job is hurting the nation's highest court. If senators don't like Garland, they can vote against him. But he deserves a hearing and a vote."
EDITORIAL: The Crippled Supreme Court (New York Times, 05/17/16)
"Every day that passes without a ninth justice undermines the Supreme Court’s ability to function, and leaves millions of Americans waiting for justice or clarity as major legal questions are unresolved.... Despite what Senate Republicans may say about the lack of harm in the delay in filling the vacancy, the court cannot do its job without a full bench."
EDITORIAL: Birth control must wait for a ninth justice (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 05/17/16)
"The Supreme Court needs a ninth justice.... The entire disappointing process demonstrates, yet again, how the lack of a ninth justice is seriously affecting the court’s ability to conduct its business.
It’s been two months since President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., circuit. Garland has provided the Senate with a 142-page questionnaire listing his employment record, opinions and public remarks. He’s met with 46 senators, including 14 Republicans.
Yet the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to express no interest in holding a hearing on his nomination. The senators’ resistance is nothing more than base partisan obstructionism.
Neither the court’s calendar nor the importance of its rulings is based on the national election schedule. The Senate’s holdouts are depriving all Americans of their third branch of government."
Editorial: Toomey and the politics of obstruction (Pocono Record [PA] , 05/17/16)
"Clearly, Pat Toomey is no student of logic.
Otherwise, the Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania would not plead for approval of his nominees for federal court in Pennsylvania so soon after joining other GOP obstructionists in refusing so much as a hearing for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.... Courts need a compliment of judges to function properly. So Toomey is asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for Senate action to confirm judicial nominees Marilyn J. Horan in Pittsburgh and Susan Paradise Baxter in Erie.
But Republicans, including Toomey, wouldn't give the president the time of day after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February, and President Obama, following the U.S. Constitution, nominated Garland. Republicans would rather have the court lack a critical ninth member for a year than grant a Democratic president so much as a courtesy hearing.... Normally people don't care much about judicial nominees. But by their partisan obstinacy Republicans have pushed the issue into the spotlight. Pat Toomey is refusing to perform his constitutional duty to provide "Advice and Consent" of a Supreme Court nominee while at the same time demanding action on his own court nominees."
Editorial: Another case for filling U.S. Supreme Court vacancy (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 05/17/16)
"Once again, the stubborn refusal by Senate Republicans to act on the president's nominee to fill the court's vacancy is undermining the court's rule and delaying justice.... the larger problem is a high court so paralyzed it cannot function as a final word on constitutional rights. Bumping these cases to the lower courts fosters a patchwork legal system, where rights are defined by the geography of individual judicial circuits. Since the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February, the court has deadlocked three times, leaving the nation without clarity in the law, the Supreme Court's very constitutional purpose.
Senate Republicans have made clear they do not intend to act on President Barack Obama's highly qualified nominee, federal appellate Judge Merrick Garland, currently chief judge of the D.C. circuit, arguing the next president should fill the vacancy. All parties before the court deserve a fully functioning bench, and justices need to be deciding cases, not engineering legal settlements. This court has a singular role, and it needs to fulfill it.
Senate Republicans need to get on with their jobs and take up the nomination. The vacancy is creating uncertainty across the judicial system. There is no just reason to delay the resolution of the serious cases that come before this court. One branch of the government is being held hostage by another, and it's time to return the balance of power to the democratic system."
Toomey two-faced on federal judge vacancies | Editorial (Express-Times [PA], 05/15/16)
"Pat Toomey can't have it both ways.
This week Pennsylvania's junior senator made a request of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Call a vote to allow the Senate to act on the appointments of two federal judge nominees in western Pennsylvania, for seats that been unfilled for years....The sand-in-the-gears approach to elevating federal judges isn't just a hindrance to justice, it's a disgrace.... there is no federal judge in the entire northwest corner of the state.... This a problem for the entire country, not just Pennsylvania. And it's beyond hypocritical of Toomey to expect that any judge deserves special treatment when he and most other GOP senators are blocking hearings — much less an up-or-down vote — on President Obama's choice of Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.... McConnell made it clear to Toomey that Pennsylvania isn't going to cut in line. Nine other judges cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee have been in the pipeline longer than the Pennsylvania nominees.... if Toomey wanted to make a sensible pitch for fair play he could have done what Sen. Bob Casey did — call upon McConnell to schedule votes for all the federal judge candidates who have committee approval.... the business of the courts — which, while it can't be totally depoliticized, would be improved greatly by respecting the Constitution and acting on federal judge nominees who are ready to go."
Editorial: Grassley's court maneuver threatens his legacy, reputation (Des Moines Register [IA], 05/15/16)
"It has been three months since Grassley first declared that he wouldn’t hold hearings for any Supreme Court nominee put forward by Obama, and the public outcry shows no signs of tapering off. ... Grassley seems destined to be remembered largely for this single, petulant act of politically motivated obstructionism.... By announcing, within hours of Scalia’s death, his intent to prevent any Obama nominee from getting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley did more than stake out a controversial position on an issue. He called into question his own integrity and he created the appearance, at least, that he was putting politics ahead of the national interest.... Grassley hasn’t helped his cause with his claim that by blocking any Obama nominee to the court, he is simply “letting the people have their say” on the matter this November.
“Not very often do the people have a chance to express the view on, ‘Do you want a very liberal person put on the court or a conservative person put on the court?’” Grassley says.
Not very often? More like never. Supreme Court justices aren’t selected through any sort of popular vote — and for good reason. They’re not politicians, and issues of constitutional rights are best not determined on Election Day.
And that’s the fundamental and inescapable problem with Grassley’s contrived “let the people speak” rationale for refusing to hold hearings. It’s built on a framework of contradictory assumptions that conflict with past practice and the U.S. Constitution, and aren’t even grounded in reality:
First, there’s the notion that the general public — not just the president and the Senate — ought to have some say in selecting Supreme Court justices via the November presidential election. It’s bizarre that Grassley, who often complains the court is “too politicized” and doesn’t adhere to strict readings of the Constitution, would even suggest this.
Second, there’s the assumption that presidential elections are single-issue referendums as to what sort of justices belong on the high court. Even now, with Scalia’s seat publicly held hostage by Grassley, voters say they’re far more concerned with a dozen other domestic and foreign issues.
And finally there’s Grassley’s inexplicable assertion that while we can’t rely on the last two presidential elections to determine the will of the people, we will be able to rely on the next one."
Senators have duty to act on Obama's pick for court: Editorial (Republican [Springfield, MA], 05/12/16)
"Recalcitrant Republicans have absolutely no legitimate reason to keep Garland on the shelf. The president did his job. Now it's up to them to do theirs. ... Republicans love to cite the Constitution – when it's convenient. McConnell and his allies would do well to take another look at the document, specifically at Article II, Section 2.
Then they should schedule confirmation hearings."
EDITORIAL: Act on Garland nomination (Day [CT] , 05/11/16)
"A sense of duty has not propelled the Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate to act on President Obama's nomination of a U.S. Supreme Court justice. But even if patriotic and constitutional responsibility were not enough to move them, maybe something they hold dearer will force their hands — political expediency.... Swallow your pride, Senator McConnell, and move the Garland nomination forward."
Editorial: Jurists can learn from Iowa's Supreme Court (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 05/10/16)
"There's no greater threat to the U.S. justice system than partisan tantrums from those hell-bent on getting their own way. ...
The threat isn't limited to the spat over President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court."
EDITORIAL: GOP senators refuse to do their jobs (Montgomery Advertiser [AL], 05/08/16)
"Most people who refuse to do their jobs get canned. Not so with GOP senators in Congress who refuse to hold hearings or vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland.
President Obama nominated Garland, a moderate, in March .... Anti-Obama obstructionists in the Senate should stop their disrespectful dereliction of duty. Alabama voters should demand Sessions and Shelby push for timely action on Garland's Supreme Court nomination."
EDITORIAL: Our Opinion: A Burr blockade (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 05/03/16)
"When Patricia Timmons-Goodson ran for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court in 2006, she polled 58 percent of the vote. ... she’d already proven her mettle on the state Court of Appeals and as a District Court judge in her native Cumberland County.
So it wasn’t surprising last week when President Barack Obama nominated Timmons-Goodson to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. District Court bench in Raleigh. She is eminently well-qualified and owns a long record of service.... But Sen. Richard Burr’s immediate response to the nomination did come as a shock.... he blocked the woman previously nominated for this long-empty position, Jennifer May-Parker, an assistant U.S. attorney. She was nominated in June 2013 but never given a hearing.... There is no excuse for denying Timmons-Goodson a hearing, even if Obama failed to call him about the nomination. That might be a breach of protocol, but Burr is equally responsible because of his unreasonable positions on the Lynch and Garland nominations.... as an experienced, fair-minded judge, Timmons-Goodson doesn’t let political considerations dictate her conduct on the bench. That’s what makes her a good choice for the federal court seat.... Burr should reconsider and support her confirmation"
EDITORIAL: Obama’s high court choice deserves hearing (Poughkeepsie Journal [NY] , 05/03/16)
"President Barack Obama has done his job by picking an imminently qualified judge to serve on the Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans, who like to tout themselves as strict constructionists of the Constitution, should stop their charade and set a confirmation hearing.... Now the U.S. Senate ought to fulfill its obligation by setting into motion the process to “advise and consent” on the president’s choice, as the Constitution requires. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the Senate should “ignore a nomination until the president’s term expires.”"