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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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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.”"

EDITORIAL: Judicial Roulette (America, 05/02/16)
"Senate Republicans’ steadfast refusal to hold hearings ... has no constitutional merit—the president has a clear duty to nominate and the Senate to “advise and consent” or refuse a nominee .... President Obama has shown admirable restraint in his nomination. Though he leans left, Judge Garland is much closer to the center of the ideological spectrum than the man he would replace and, at 63, is 13 years older and closer to eventual retirement than Justice Scalia was at his nomination.... Responding to the fight over Robert Bork’s nomination in 1987, the editors of America ... argue[d] that “it would be silly to maintain that politics or ideology should have nothing to do” with such a decision. ... That recognition should also move Senate Republicans to hold hearings on the nomination."

EDITORIAL: Sen. Burr blocks federal judge nominee and slows justice in eastern NC (News & Observer [NC], 05/02/16)
"Patricia Timmons-Goodson has served with distinction as a judge at all levels of North Carolina’s judicial system. ... She was the first black woman to serve on the state Supreme Court, ... and is now vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. By any measure, Timmons-Goodson’s career has been distinguished, and her rulings and writings are available for all to see and judge. She is well-qualified to be a federal judge. But Timmons-Goodson’s nomination to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Eastern District of North Carolina is being stalled by the simple stubbornness of Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. The judicial post, which has gone unfilled since Jan. 1, 2006, is the nation’s longest-running federal court vacancy....Burr’s opposition is unfair to Timmons-Goodson personally and unfair to the system running short of federal judges.... This obstruction is hardly a first ... he has joined in the GOP charade of denying a hearing for the president’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. The Senate’s job in reviewing the president’s nominees is to advise and consent, not to pout and obstruct.... Burr fails to recognize that right and in so doing is impeding the administration of justice for the people of Eastern North Carolina."

"THUMBS DOWN: To Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, who are demanding a quick approval process for Utahn Ronald G. Russell to the federal bench. What hypocrisy. Hatch and Lee are two of the main voices denying Judge Merrick Garland a hearing on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. We suspect that Russell is well qualified for the post. But Garland is eminently qualified for the Supreme Court, too. It’s ridiculous for Utah’s senators to use an argument for Russell that clearly also applies to Garland, whom they’re blocking for political advantage. Coherence is in short supply in D.C. If Russell’s nomination is held, Hatch and Lee have only themselves to blame."

Editorial: Thumbs down to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley's "gamble." (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 05/02/16)
"Yes, there's a risk to holding a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court for GOP front-runner Donald Trump, Grassley admitted this week. ... And yes, Grassley's refusal to hold hearings for Obama nominee Merrick Garland could blow up in the GOP's collective faces, if Democrat Hillary Clinton takes the White House and brings a Democratic Senate majority with her. It's a "gamble" Grassley said he's willing to take. But Grassley [is] playing with house money and each and every one of us might pick up the tab."

EDITORIAL: Rescue the Supreme Court From Limbo (New York Times, 05/01/16)
"Republicans haven’t been satisfied simply to hobble the court’s ability to function. In recent weeks, they have gone to remarkable lengths to impugn the integrity of the justices and thus the legitimacy of the court. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has attacked Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who delighted conservatives at his own confirmation hearings by comparing judges to umpires calling balls and strikes. But last month, Mr. Grassley, who should be spending his time scheduling confirmation hearings, instead lashed out at the chief justice, claiming that “a number of his votes have reflected political considerations, not legal ones” .... None of this has anything to do with the qualifications of Mr. Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, whom conservatives have long praised as someone they would happily confirm. ... if the president and the Senate are of different parties, there is every reason to believe that the current blockade will continue indefinitely."

EDITORIAL: Strategy to divide and fail (Lompoc Record [CA], 04/29/16)
"What seems to be lost in the fog of Washington politics is that, from a constitutional standpoint, this nation’s voters have already spoken. In 2008 and 2012 they elected, then re-elected Barack Obama, who has every right to name Scalia’s replacement. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court trundles on, doomed to deadlocks on some of the nation’s most pressing legal and social issues — all because Republican political power brokers want to have it their way, using the excuse that Americans need to decide. If the presidential campaigns have shown us nothing else, it is that politics is a dirty business, but what the GOP Senate leadership is doing by stonewalling a viable candidate to fill Justice Scalia’s seat is showing absolute contempt for the Supreme Court, and the role it plays in balancing the three branches of government. Party leaders should be ashamed, and so should those resorting to such demagoguery.... That’s not what framers of the U.S. Constitution had in mind."

EDITORIAL: OUR VIEW: Political courage shouldn't be situational (Times [Ottawa, IL], 04/27/16)
"Well, congressman, the hurry is that the Supreme Court is supposed to have nine members. Antonin Scalia died in February, and whomever is elected president won’t take the oath of office until Friday, Jan. 20. No one can say with a straight face the American public is better served missing 11 percent of the most important court in the land for a year or more.... Garland deserves a hearing and a Senate vote. The timing of the election is irrelevant. Kinzinger and his sort know this, they just won’t admit it to their constituents. That’s neither grown up nor courageous. It’s just plain sad."

Editorial: Democracy was the big winner on Tuesday (Delaware County Daily Times [PA], 04/27/16)
Sen. "Toomey will be dogged by several factors. First there is his alliance with Republican Senate leaders in denying a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Polls have shown Pennsylvanians increasingly are tired of that kind of obstructionist governing."

These 519 Editorials by 283 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: Hatch should reciprocate and consider Garland nomination for Supreme Court (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 04/25/16)
"Now might be the time to ask Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee what they really think of the dysfunctional Congress that they helped create and continue to abet.... Last week, Utah's senators made the case for the confirmation of Ronald G. Russell to the U.S. District Court for Utah. President Barack Obama, after consulting with Hatch and Lee, nominated the former Centerville mayor in December. Now, Russell is stuck is a queue behind 20 other judicial nominees, not to mention Obama's choice to the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Judge Merrick Garland. It could be called hypocritical arrogance ... for Hatch and Lee to refuse to consider the president's Supreme Court choice while pressing their own nominee to a federal judgeship. The double standard is particularly troubling in Hatch's case, as he has been an enthusiastic advocate for Garland .... Utah's elder statesman has two good reasons to break from the pack, stop the partisan melodrama and show leadership, to spend some of the political capital that he has accumulated over four decades. Merrick Garland and Ronald G. Russell are nominees he admires. Instead of contributing to poisonous politics, he could actually do something to fix it, something to loosen the appointment logjam and help courts function the way they are intended. After all, Sen. Hatch, you have a pair of dogs in this fight. Obama acted on your choice to fill a federal judgeship in Utah. You should reciprocate. It is what Utahns elected you to do."

EDITORIAL: A ‘no comment’ from Supreme Court is not acceptable (Fresno Bee [CA] , 04/24/16)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is failing the country by refusing to act on Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat."

EDITORIAL: Toomey needs to be accountable (Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald [PA], 04/23/16)
"Sen. Pat Toomey doubled down on his obstruction last week after meeting with Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. The Republican seeking his second term declared after the meeting that he continues to support his caucus’s decision not to do its constitutional duty. He opposes conducting the confirmation process .... there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes Toomey and his cohorts to invalidate the last year of a presidential term.... it is crucial that he endorse a fair confirmation process for Garland."

Editorial, 4/23: Rust in the system (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 04/22/16)
"In ways both big and small, the machinery of the federal government is slowly rusting shut. Take, for starters, the judicial system. The most glaring example is the refusal of the Republican majority in the Senate, including Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, to have a hearing or vote on President Barrack Obama’s appointment of federal Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the rust goes a lot deeper into the system. Obama’s appointment of Omaha attorney Robert Rossiter to Nebraska’s federal District Court has been pending since June.... The Nebraska vacancy, created when U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon of Omaha announced his retirement, qualifies as a “judicial emergency.” ... There are almost a hundred judicial vacancies on lower federal courts. The Senate has confirmed only six federal judges this year. There’s nothing controversial about Rossiter’s appointment. It’s just that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not allow the Senate to act.... 25 members of the Law College at the University of Nebraska urged confirmation hearings and a vote on Judge Garland, noting that Republican senators in past years have cited Judge Garland as an example of a nominee they could support.... The same scenario applies to Rossiter. If the Senate fails to act on his nomination during the current system of Congress, the whole process would restart next year when there is a new president in the White House."

Editorial: People want Senate to act on Supreme Court vacancy (Savannah Morning News [GA] , 04/21/16)
"It turns out that Americans do care about the U.S. Supreme Court, and that a majority polled wants the Senate to decide this year whether to seat President Obama’s nominee.... Key Senate Republicans, Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, say they are determined not to move on Garland’s nomination. The chief reason given has nothing to do with his qualifications, his views on the law or his 19-year record as a federal judge. Nor does it matter that he drew substantial support from senators of both parties when he came up for appointment in 1997, or that another leading Republican, former Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch, said Garland would be a “consensus nominee” who’d definitely be confirmed when his name was floated for a high court seat in 2010.... here’s the biggest reason why people should care about the Senate leader’s refusal to act on the nomination. Americans are sick of the partisan fighting in Washington .... the Republican Senate has a chance to step above the fray. It could bring Merrick Garland up for confirmation hearings and then an up or down vote. After all, that is what most Americans want."

These 513 Editorials by 280 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: Congressional paralysis endangers immigrant families (Detroit Free Press [MI] , 04/19/16)
"Tragically, the same Congressional dereliction that created this crisis may also serve to delay its resolution. The Republican-led Senate's refusal to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland, Obama's choice to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, greatly increases the likelihood that the eight incumbent justices will deadlock on the constitutionality of DAPA. That would temporarily kill the program while all but assuring that the legal controversy will be replayed, in a year or two, before a fully staffed Supreme Court. So long as Congress dithers, millions of American children -- most citizens, others legally entitled to be here -- will continue to live in perpetual terror of abrupt separation from their parents, What a cruel legacy for a Republican congressional majority that purports to value the rule of law and the sanctity of family bonds."

These 509 Editorials by 279 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 | SCALIA’S REPLACEMENT: Shorthanded Supreme Court missing calls (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 04/19/16)
"The Senate should stop making political sport of the nation's highest court and move ahead with the process to replace Scalia. Instead, the court's eight justices face the prospect of 4-4 deadlocks on a variety of contentious cases, including several arising from Wisconsin.... understanding McConnell's political motivation doesn't make his decision to paralyze the court any less reprehensible.... There is a solution: Hold hearings and take a vote on Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland ...a judicial moderate with a long and distinguished record. As McConnell well knows, hearings would expose this fact. The Senate approved Garland's elevation to the D.C. Circuit 76 to 23 in 1997. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, says senators should just "man up" and take a vote on Obama's nominee. We agree. Johnson should follow Kirk's lead. Let the umpires get back to the game at full strength."

EDITORIAL: A Supreme Court ‘no comment’ in Texas case is not acceptable (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/19/16)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is failing the country by refusing to act on Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat."

EDITORIAL: Agree or disagree, Baylor Law School panel smartly highlights supreme outrage (Waco Tribune-Herald [TX] , 04/17/16)
"We have heard from other constitutional scholars who believe Republicans assault the Constitution by declining to “advise and consent,” as the Constitution would seem to demand upon the president’s nomination of a Supreme Court nominee. They’re convincing, too. But while Guinn, [Ken] Starr and others on last week’s panel might disagree, their view is no less instructive. By declining to hold Senate hearings for much-respected U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Chief Justice Merrick Garland to answer questions, Senate Republicans further politicize the nation’s highest court — a colossally regrettable move. They also marginalize the one branch of government that arguably operates most efficiently. “It’s a mess,” Starr said. “Four-four (rulings) is just a horrible state. ... the court needs to have an odd number (of justices) to get its work done.” Incidentally, this panel was composed of those who revel in the wit, restraint and adherence to “originalism” of arch-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia,"

EDITORIAL: Toomey skirts accountability (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 04/17/16)
"Sen. Pat Toomey doubled down on his obstruction last week after meeting with Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.... He opposes conducting the confirmation process, thus ensuring that the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia will continue for more than 400 days. The average vacancy on the court lasts 67 days. Mr. Toomey declared after his meeting with Judge Garland, ... that he now opposes him on the merits.... voters already had a say in selecting President Obama, twice, and there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes Mr. Toomey and his cohorts to invalidate the last year of a presidential term."

EDITORIAL: Iowa Dems pull a Grassley on Hawk-I nominee (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 04/17/16)
"This space has been used to be brutally critical of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s obstructionist position on the consideration of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. We’ve noted while Grassley likes to throw daggers at anyone who doesn’t share his unjustified position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that government should wait until after the November election to fill Scalia’s vacancy, it’s actually Grassley who is playing partisan politics. Why? Because he’s a Republican and the president isn’t. It’s that simple. We’ve noted it’s not the type of behavior we expect from those we send to public office to work on our behalf."

EDITORIAL: Judicial tussles can’t find audience (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 04/16/16)
"Idaho’s two Republican senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, worked with the White House to find Lodge’s replacement. Crapo tried to quell concerns that the Garland stalemate would hurt Nye’s chances for a speedy confirmation. Speaking of Nye, he said: “The White House is strongly in support of their nomination, and Sen. Risch and I are strongly in support on the president’s nomination. There hasn’t been that consensus developed yet on the Supreme Court” nomination. Well, consensus is impossible to achieve when the Senate majority leader declares the Supreme Court process to be shut down before anyone is nominated.... filling that position is far more important than tit-for-tat. Last July, the feds declared a “judicial emergency” in Idaho ... Forty-nine of Obama’s nominees for federal judgeships were awaiting votes .... vacancies affect individuals and businesses with genuine concerns that need legal resolutions."

EDITORIAL: Roses and thorns (Daily Press [VA] , 04/15/16)
"[T]he Daily Press Editorial Board offers a list of area citizens or institutions deserving of "roses" or "thorns." ... This week's thorns go to: • John Whitbeck, chairman of the state Republican Party, for claiming that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland voted to uphold a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C. He was not one of the judges who heard that case. Since the Senate Judiciary Committee refuses to meet with Judge Garland, there seems no reason to misrepresent his record."

EDITORIAL: The voice of reason (Mount Desert Islander [ME], 04/15/16)
"Sen. Susan Collins deserves a full measure of credit and respect for her willingness, once again, to break ranks with most of her Republican Senate colleagues and take the high road, rather than the partisan road.... Collins stands nearly alone among Republicans in her assertion that the Senate should “follow the regular order” and move forward with the process established by the U.S. Constitution to “advise and consent” on the president’s Supreme Court nominations.... the presidential nomination campaign process .... should not – and under the Constitution, does not – foreclose the president’s right – indeed, his duty – to nominate a new Supreme Court justice .... Collins observes that Garland, who has a strong record after 19 years on the Appeals Court and is widely regarded as something of a centrist, could be a far more appealing nominee to Republicans than anyone who might be chosen by the next president. ... Collins is again the rare voice of reason in an arena where partisanship rules. Republican Senate leaders would be wise to heed her advice, move forward with the normal Supreme Court nomination process and let the Senate consent or withhold its consent based on the nominee’s fitness for service on the nation’s highest court."

Free Pa's federal judicial nominees from Senate limbo: Editorial (PennLive [PA], 04/15/16)
"The Senate's Republican majority has made an absolute fetish of blocking President Barack Obama's judicial appointments – an obstructionist posture that has burdened benches across the nation, particularly in Pennsylvania.... Even before they held the majority, Senate Republicans routinely blocked movement on the president's nominees, filibustering mercilessly and delaying, sometimes for more than a year, even those judges who were eventually approved all but unanimously. Laughably, when the president offered nominations to fill three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in June 2013, GOP leaders accused him of trying to "pack the court." ... some 50 judicial nominees are currently hanging fire .... the Senate has approved just 17 judicial nominations since Republicans took control in 2015. That's fewer than half the 40-plus circuit and district court nominees approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate during a similar period during George W. Bush's presidency.... 34 judicial districts face emergency shortages .... Also nominated by Obama ... Rebecca Ross Haywood for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit .... Toomey is urging fellow Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Idaho, Judiciary Committee chairman, to advance Colville and Younge out of committee and on to a floor vote. His advocacy is commendable, but that Toomey continues to simultaneously (and heartily) block the president's Supreme Court nominee is an irony that is hard to ignore."

Bad gamble on Supreme Court [Editorial] (Greenwood Commonwealth [MS], 04/15/16)
"The Republican majority in the Senate has so far refused to give Garland's nomination a hearing until at least after the November election. ... The problem with that strategy — besides the failure to perform a constitutional responsibility and the unfairness of leaving Garland hanging in limbo — is that it could backfire and result in someone further to the left than Garland filling the vacancy. Philosophically, Republicans are not that opposed to Garland. When he was approved for a federal appeals court seat 20 years ago and even more recently, GOP senators have praised the former federal prosecutor. Their only real objection to Garland is that he was nominated by Obama. In a party that has become obsessed with opposing anything associated with the sitting Democratic president, even good ideas get shot down.... It is a bad gamble the Republicans are taking. They should reconsider."

EDITORIAL: IN OUR OPINION: Thumbs up, thumbs down (Pocono Record [PA] , 04/15/16)
"THUMB DOWN to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., for his thin veil of accommodation in "meeting" with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Tuesday. Toomey won't stand up for the Constitution by acting, though, to fill the glaring vacancy left by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He'd rather support the Republican line of obstruct and delay, leaving the American people without a full complement on this vital court for at least nine months — just because their politics won't let them entertain anyone, however qualified, who is nominated by President Barack Obama."

EDITORIAL: The non-partisan thing to do is have the hearing (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 04/14/16)
"So, beyond the phantom declaration of a “Biden Rule” — it’s nonsense because there’s no such thing — Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley ... told Garland the Senate won’t be moving forward with his nomination during this “hyper-partisan election year.” It’s hyperbole Grassley is trying to mask as good governance.... To suggest this election is offering more vitriol than others, and therefore that’s justification for Grassley to not fulfill his constitutional obligation to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nominee, is a disservice to the people who voted for him, the people who have cases before the Supreme Court, and the founding fathers who designed a system specifically to eliminate partisanship on this matter. ... And even some of his key supporters tell him he’s wrong about this. Keith Uhl, Des Moines lawyer who helped manage Chuck Grassley’s first U.S. Senate campaign and is considered a friend, said it’s time for Grassley and Republican Senate leaders to “man up and vote” on Garland."