Editorials and Opinion
Why the Senate Should Vote on Merrick Garland’s Nomination Now: A 4-4 split means that there is no uniform rule of law. (Fortune, 06/21/16)
Mark Kende: "Chuck Grassley, a U.S. senator from Iowa, has been undermining separation of powers and obstructing American democracy for over 80 days. By refusing to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat, Senator Grassley has essentially shut down part of the government, diminishing the judiciary and the president at the same time. He should reverse course.... Senator Grassley is ignoring a federal law, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1, that specifies the U.S. Supreme Court shall have nine members. ... In addition, he has undermined democracy by not letting the president carry out his constitutional appointment obligation. ... Unfortunately, Senator Grassley is following close to the example of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt who tried to manipulate the Court’s numbers for political reasons."
Statement from White House Counsel Neil Eggleston on the ABA’s Evaluation of Chief Judge Merrick Garland (The White House, 06/21/16)
"Today, the American Bar Association gave its highest possible rating to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, assessing him as unanimously well-qualified and affirming he has the experience and character to serve on the United States Supreme Court. ... The President nominated Chief Judge Garland 97 days ago - and given that the average time from nomination to confirmation is 67 days, there is no question that the Senate has abdicated its responsibility under the U.S. Constitution. Filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court is a solemn responsibility that the President and the Senate share under the Constitution, and we call on the Senate to do its job and consider Chief Judge Garland's nomination."
Senate Must Do Its Job (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 06/21/16)
Ben Valdez, Letter to the Editor: "It's been nearly 100 days since Obama first nominated Garland and yet nothing has happened in the Senate. I call on Ron Johnson to do his job and help ensure we have a hearing for this nominee."
Statement of ABA President Paulette Brown Re: Evaluation of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (American Bar Association, 06/21/16)
"The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which is independent of the ABA’s policy-making and governing entities, has finished its intensive peer review of the qualifications of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and has rated him “Well Qualified.”
It is now imperative that the Senate fulfills its constitutional responsibilities to consider and act promptly on the Supreme Court nominee.... While the Court continues to function, its 4-4 decisions do not establish precedent and leave open questions on issues that are vital to the lives of everyday people. The prospect of a deadlock also will result in more cases being returned unresolved to lower courts. Cases with controversial issues that need a decision will more likely be avoided by the court. The confirmation process must therefore continue to proceed with all deliberate speed.
In addition to the Supreme Court seat, there are 83 current vacancies on the Courts of Appeals, District Courts and the Court of International Trade. Our nation is disadvantaged when the federal judiciary does not have enough judges to hear cases and resolve disputes in a thorough and timely fashion."
The glaring omission in the New York Times’ gun debate coverage; The Grey Lady downplays Congress' chances of passing reform with nary a mention of the GOP's radical obstructionism (Salon.com, 06/21/16)
Eric Boehlert: "Today’s Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. We saw it with the GOP’s gun law obstruction, the Violence Against Women Act obstruction, the sequester obstruction, Supreme Court obstruction, minimum wage obstruction, 9/11 first responder obstruction, government shutdown obstruction, immigration reform obstruction, Chuck Hagel’s confirmation obstruction, Susan Rice secretary of state obstruction, paid leave obstruction, Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstruction, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act obstruction, and the consistent obstruction of judicial nominees." [Link to each]
United States Supreme Court Must Be Fully Staffed (WomensRadio [NV], 06/20/16)
Annette Magnus: Executive Director, Battle Born Progress: "Senators Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell are holding the judicial branch of our government hostage, and it’s time for Dean Heller to pressure them to step up and do their job.
Americans want and deserve to have a fully-staffed Supreme Court. There is too much at stake for the Court to be held hostage by GOP Senators refusing to do their job and hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee.
If obstructionist Senators get their way, the seat could sit vacant for more than a year, damaging the Court and its ability to effectively rule.
Article II of the Constitution provides that the President “shall have [the] power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,” to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. There’s no exception for election years."
Commentary: Action needed on federal judges (Greenville [SC] News, 06/20/16)
Tommy Tobin, Guest Columnist: "Is the chief justice elect of the South Carolina Supreme Court qualified to be a judge? The answer should be an obvious yes, however it has lingered unanswered for more than three months in the U.S. Senate. South Carolina’s Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham have yet to weigh in on Chief Justice-elect Donald W. Beatty’s fitness as a federal judicial nominee.... The American Bar Association (ABA) rated Beatty as unanimously well qualified to fill the post that has been vacant for nearly three years. Chief Justice Beatty is not the only South Carolina judicial nominee currently awaiting our Senators’ assessment. Spartanburg’s Donald C. Coggins Jr. was also nominated in February. ... Currently, federal judges in the District of South Carolina have weighted case loads of over 500 cases per judge. The dockets are so jammed that the District, which encompasses the entire state, has been declared a judicial emergency.... The U.S. Supreme Court is missing a ninth Justice. The current nominee, Merrick Garland, is facing a blockade in the Senate.... our federal judiciary is facing 90 vacancies, which represents approximately 10 percent of all judicial posts. South Carolina’s senators can and should take action to remedy the situation here in our state’s federal court system. As reported elsewhere, Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and expert on judicial appointments, noted that the two open seats in our states could be filled later this year if Senators Graham and Scott agree to support their nominations.... the Senate has made it harder for the judiciary to do its job and skillfully administer justice. The Senate and especially Sens. Graham and Scott should evaluate judicial nominees on whether they are well qualified for their positions rather than the politics of the moment."
Tom Cotton’s Despicable Admission: The Cassandra Butts Vote (Peacock Panache, 06/20/16)
Sheila Kennedy: "Cotton has been one of the Republican Senators refusing to act on judicial vacancies–from the Supreme Court down to the District Court level–simply because Obama is President.
It’s bad enough that the federal courts are so understaffed that Americans are being denied access to justice. But according to several news reports, Cotton isn’t just participating in the GOP’s willingness to indulge partisan spite at the expense of the common good. He’s twisting the knife.
Consider, for example, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni’s report on Cassandra Butts’ nomination to serve as the United States ambassador to the Bahamas."
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."
Commentary: Judicial branch has been under GOP assault for years (Northern Virginia Daily, 06/17/16)
Steve Foreman: "We have Senate Republicans who are currently denying the president’s constitutional right to nominate Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy under the fallacy that Obama is too far along in his term to nominate a replacement.... There is a backlog of federal, district and circuit courts judgeships left unfilled because Republicans refuse to approve them. ... If fulfilling their constitutional duty by doing their jobs was a priority for the Senate Republicans, we would not have the polarization and politicization of the judiciary that we now have and less of a logjam in the federal courts."
A job to do (Centre Daily Times [State College, PA], 06/17/16)
Patrick Stickney, Letter to the Editor: "the Constitution ... contains 18 words, in particular, that Pat Toomey has chosen to ignore.... By keeping Judge Merrick Garland in limbo, by washing his hands of the process after holding a meeting with the judge — by not calling for the Senate to hold any hearings or vote on the nomination, the senator is deviating from the principles inherent to the Constitution he swore to support and defend."
Tell Johnson ‘do your job’ (Superior Telegram [WI], 06/17/16)
Joyce Luedke, Letter to the Editor: " The Senate has a constitutional duty to hold hearings and to "advise" and "consent" after the president has nominated a qualified person to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.... The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has joined other newspapers around the country stating: Ron Johnson and his fellow Republicans need to do their job and give the nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing.
Johnson is clearly going against the will of the people by refusing to do his job.
It is our duty as Ron Johnson’s "employers" to tell him: "Do your job!""
Carl Tobias: Senate should confirm Robert Rossiter for federal judgeship (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 06/16/16)
Prof. Tobias Op-Ed: "Rossiter is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the strong support of Republican U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Rossiter Oct. 29 without dissent.... The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has designated Judge Bataillon’s vacancy an emergency ... Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp has been urging that the Senate move quickly to fill the opening ... she explained: “Nebraska is among eight states having a single federal district and only three authorized judgeships (and recently) ranked first among these districts in its per-judgeship weighted filings, felony caseload, and supervised release hearings (so) the prompt confirmation of Nebraska’s newest federal district judge will be essential to ensure that federal litigation in Nebraska is adjudicated promptly and efficiently.”... Republican leaders have maintained they are returning the Senate to “regular order;” however, Rossiter and many other extremely competent, mainstream nominees have waited interminably for floor debates and votes. Several Democratic senators have requested unanimous consent to vote on Rossiter and 14 remaining district court nominees who need floor votes, but Republicans have objected. It is past time to schedule a debate and vote on Robert Rossiter."
Mark H. Werner: Supreme Court nominee deserves a hearing (Gainesville Sun [FL], 06/16/16)
Op-Ed: "Judge Merrick Garland is an earnest and thoughtful individual whose distinguished career shows that he could be a great Supreme Court justice. His nomination
deserves a prompt hearing to keep our Constitution strong."
Commentary: A dysfunctional Supreme Court. Get used to it (Reuters, 06/15/16)
BY HERMAN SCHWARTZ AND WILLIAM YEOMANS: "Senate Republicans have become experts in dysfunction. They seem intent on spreading the contagion to the U.S. Supreme Court.... its inability to decide other important issues bring into stark focus the damage that Senate Republicans have inflicted on the court by refusing to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat. ... Though the GOP had virtually declared a halt to confirmation of Obama-nominated judges, the heightened politicization of the Supreme Court still seems stunning."
The Problem With Congress Might Not Be Fixable (Bloomberg News, 06/15/16)
Cass R. Sunstein: "Congress is in the midst of a breakdown in longstanding institutional norms. The latest example is the Senate's refusal to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court -- a refusal that is probably without precedent.... With the Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on Garland, we’ve entered uncharted territory. The GOP would like to say that the norm for which they are speaking is quite narrow: No Supreme Court confirmations in an election year.
But their behavior is fully consistent with a much broader one: If a party can get away with refusing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee chosen by a president of the opposing party, that’s exactly what it will do. If so, appointments to the high court will become mired in the crassest form of partisan politics.... if a president’s judicial nominees are not confirmed, because the opposing party disagrees with their likely votes, federal courts will lack sufficient personnel to proceed expeditiously."
Study Calls Snub of Obama’s Supreme Court Pick Unprecedented (New York Times, 06/13/16)
Adam Liptak: How unusual is the Republican blockade of the nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court? After a comprehensive look at every past Supreme Court vacancy, two law professors have concluded that it is an unprecedented development.... In every one of the 103 earlier Supreme Court vacancies, the professors wrote, the president was able to both nominate and appoint a replacement with the Senate’s advice and consent. This did not always happen on the first try, they wrote, but it always happened."
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"
Henry: Stalling GOP members defile Constitution (Mason City Globe Gazette [IA], 06/13/16)
Reg Henry column: "The Constitution assumes action one way or the other; it does not demand a rubber stamp on any nomination. If senators do not like the president’s nominee, they can give critical advice and withhold their consent — and their constitutional duty is done.
The trouble for would-be naysayers is that president’s nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is objectionably unobjectionable."
In support of judge Garland (Daily Nonpareil [Council Bluffs, IA], 06/12/16)
K.O. Myers, Letter to the Editor: "President Obama has nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Garland has nearly two decades of experience as a federal judge, and received bipartisan support when he was first appointed to the bench.
There is no question that Judge Garland deserves a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote, a courtesy that both parties have always extended to Supreme Court nominees."
Why today’s political climate scares judges (Denver Post [CO] , 06/12/16)
John Ingold: "Imagine, at this moment in American politics, that you are a judge.... To your east, in Washington, you see a U.S. Supreme Court hobbling along with only eight justices because of a standoff over who should appoint the ninth. You see political gridlock that has left unfilled 80 other vacancies on the federal bench across the country, according to legal scholar Carl Tobias."
Grassley's SCOTUS delay is hurting Republicans (Des Moines Register [IA], 06/12/16)
Chelle Stoner, Letter to the Editor: "I would like to urge Sen. Grassley to reconsider his stance on allowing a vote on Justice Merrick Garland. I think what he is doing is exactly why so many people are simply fed up with the hard-line intransigence on both sides of the aisle.
The choice to not move forward is hurting Republicans, which in turn is hurting Americans, especially younger Americans, and any faith they may have in the process that our federal government can ever work. That is more important than whether it is or isn’t Justice Garland in the end."
Conner Eldridge is trucking (Arkansas Times, 06/10/16)
Max Brantley: "Sen. John ... Boozman has some explaining to do. He is derelict along with colleague Republican Sen. Tom Cotton in adequately responding to the party's abuse of the rule of law in politicking of judicial nominations"
Senators Embedded Within a Brain Fog (Democratic Daily, 06/10/16)
Walter Brasch: "The U.S. Senate—under the leadership of Mitch McConnell ... continues to be one of the nation’s leading obstructionists. This time, the Senate isn’t meeting to advise or consent to the President’s nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court."
Rubio's flip-flop (Miami Herald, 06/10/16)
Ronald Newman, Letter to the Editor: "It is an understatement to attach the phrase “small-minded” to Rubio’s recent opposition to a federal judicial candidate whom he had supported, Mary Barzee Flores (Rubio blocks confirmation of judge he recommended, June 5).
Extreme political partisanship is almost always small-minded, and Rubio’s degeneration into opposing Flores just because she is not decidedly right-wingish will stand as a shameful keynote of his legacy"
Senate obstructionism is snarling the federal trial courts (Washington Post, 06/10/16)
Kyle Barry, Letter to the Editor: "along with vacancies and “judicial emergencies,” the number of pending judicial nominees has spiked as a result of a stagnant confirmation process. There are 54 judicial nominees waiting for confirmation, including 46 to the trial courts, and hardly any are the least bit controversial. By contrast, in June 2008, President George W. Bush had only 22 trial court nominees awaiting action in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Second, the Republican leadership is blocking even nominees who have bipartisan support, including those selected and recommended by their home-state Republican senators. All 17 of the pending judicial nominees who have passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee did so by voice vote with support from the committee’s Republican members. Moreover, there are at least 25 trial court nominees who are both from states with at least one GOP senator and have home-state GOP support."