Editorials and Opinion
Chuck Grassley Sets All-Time U.S. Record For Obstruction (Iowa Starting Line, 07/20/16)
Pat Rynard: "Tuesday marked 125 days since President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, with Senator Chuck Grassley still refusing to hold a hearing for him. ... Senator Grassley will now be forever known as the worst obstructionist in all of American history on the courts process. ... Brandeis believed the big banks needed to broken up, not just regulated .... Garland was selected precisely because he lacked any major ideological leanings. Obama put him forward for his record of being a fair, thoughtful jurist, typically the kind of nominee that both political parties can get behind. Which is what makes Grassley’s opposition to holding hearings all the more noteworthy. It’s not about the ideology or resume of the actual nominee. It’s solely about which party the president nominating him belongs to. And the refusal to hold a hearing reflects that – what Republicans likely truly fear is a public examination of Garland, which would simply reinforce how qualified he is to serve."
History in the Making! Republican-Led Senate Breaks 100-Year Record for Congressional Ineptitude! (Portland Mercury [OR], 07/20/16)
Bobby Roberts: "Today is the 126th day since the President nominated Merrick Garland on March 16th, 2016, to fill the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia's death. There have been zero Senate hearings since. This breaks the record for longest span of time between Presidential nomination and either approval or dismissal, previously belonging to President Woodrow Wilson's nomination of Louis Brandeis, which ended at 125 days.... In 1916, a period in American history not particularly known for its cultural enlightenment, the Senate spent the better part of 125 days arguing about—and ultimately admitting to the Supreme Court—a Jewish Social Justice Warrior.
100 years later, our Senate has yet to hold a single hearing on Garland."
Letter, 7/19: On opinion and the Supreme Court (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 07/19/16)
Larry McClung: "The Republican controlled Senate’s stubborn refusal to conduct Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearings, so their nominee can be considered, is unseemly on its face and does more to dishonor the court than a Justice’s honest and candid opinion publicly expressed."
Daily Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest (The White House, 07/19/16)
"Leader McConnell, Chairman Grassley, and the Senate Republican caucus are setting records for inaction as they fail to fulfill even their most basic constitutional responsibilities.
Today marks 125 days since President Obama fulfilled his constitutional responsibility and nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the United States Supreme Court. ... the President lent his support to an idea that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, also supported -- namely, that the Senate should commit to giving qualified Supreme Court nominees a hearing and a vote within an established time frame."
Commentary: Powerful essay underscores absurdity of Burr/Tillis judicial blockade (Progressive Pulse [NC], 07/19/16)
Rob Schofield: "the essay below ... does a great job of explaining the outrageous nature of the ongoing blockade of Judge Merrick Garland and numerous other Obama judicial nominees by the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate — a blockade in which both of North Carolina’s senators — Richard Burr and Thom Tillis — continue to play a sadly prominent role."
GOP's Record-Breaking SCOTUS Obstruction (People For blog, 07/19/16)
And at Day 125 of the nomination, the GOP has set a shameful record: D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland is now the longest pending Supreme Court nominee in American history, and he still has not been allowed to have a committee hearing....So on this record-breaking 125th day of the GOP’s refusal to do its job, let us hope that Senate Republicans will move to hold a hearing and vote on Judge Garland as soon as they return in September"
Like It Or Not, The Left Still Loves The Supreme Court (Above the Law, 07/19/16)
Joe Patrice: "certain populations, in particular those important to progressives, can’t quit the Supreme Court. ... Perhaps the synthesis of the two panels was put forward by Anisha Singh, noting the importance of the judiciary to progressive reforms, but warning against fixation on the Supreme Court when the judiciary as a whole is understaffed (100 vacancies as of today, with 30 courts having declared judicial emergencies), and critically important to vindicating citizen rights."
America, Out to Sea: Are we witnessing the unraveling of the United States? (U.S. News & World Report, 07/19/16)
Jamie Stiehm, Contributor: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown a mule's stubborn streak in refusing to hold hearings for President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. Since February, that has set a defiant tone for working together. That is "supreme" disrespect to a president. It's never been done before."
The Ties That Bind (Medium, 07/19/16)
Alvaro Moises Huerta: "The Senate has gone a record-breaking 125 days without granting a hearing to determine whether President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia is fit to serve on the nation’s highest court. That is downright shameful.... We need a full Court in order for justice to be realized. The Senate must fill the vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s death more than five months ago. As the 4–4 tie in Texas proves, the political dog-and-pony show currently playing itself out in the Senate and being pushed by Republicans who will go to great lengths to stymie the president’s nominee has tied the hands of the Supreme Court. Justice, and all of us, suffer for it."
Obstructionist Tom Cotton: Speech light on Trump references (Arkansas Times, 07/19/16)
Max Brantley: "A legal website, Law360, wrote this week about Cotton's continuing obstruction of judicial appointments, particularly to the federal court of claims. The article demolishes Cotton's pretexts for refusing to fill seats on the important court and again raises an implication that he might be serving the special interest of a former law firm in doing so. ... court with a rising caseload isn't getting the help it needs. Tom Cotton stands in the way, despite multiple approvals of bipartisan-approved nominees for vacancies. "The ability of the court to decide cases is being inexcusably harmed by Sen. Cotton's failure to do his job," said Glenn Sugameli, founder of Judging the Environment and a senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. "There's an advise and consent duty." A prominent example of the problems the court faces without a full bench came in Judge Mary Ellen Coster Williams' comments at an October scheduling conference, in a case filed by the Jicarilla Apache Nation, according to Sugameli. While noting she could possibly hand trial off to another judge, Judge Williams said that she would otherwise have to move a trial originally scheduled for November back to July, her earliest available opening, with "a lot" of emergency cases to resolve first. "There's real, specific evidence that this is hurting the ability to resolve cases," Sugameli said."
Senate puts politics above Constitution (Columbia Daily Tribune [MO] , 07/19/16)
Prof. Gregory P. Magarian Op-Ed: "President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional duty to nominate a candidate to break the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock. Bearing in mind the need to work with the Senate, he has resisted liberals’ calls to nominate a young, left-wing firebrand. Instead he has chosen in Merrick Garland an older, moderate federal judge with impeccable legal qualifications, a man whom numerous Republicans have praised.
Yet within hours of Scalia’s death, before the nation could even catch its collective breath to mourn his loss, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell had proclaimed the Senate wouldn’t so much as hold hearings on anyone President Obama might nominate to fill the seat. Sen. McConnell and his Republican forces have stuck to their guns, even in the face of the most moderate Supreme Court nomination by any president of either party in at least 30 years.
Senate Republicans’ obstruction of the Garland nomination sends a clear message: Party above country."
Let’s keep our convention attacks in perspective, shall we? (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 07/19/16)
Steve Sebelius, Review-Journal political columnist: "Why don’t we start by simply holding votes on the nominations the president has already made, such as U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, a man praised by both Republicans and Democrats as a fair-minded and well-qualified jurist. To simply ignore that nomination and refuse to hold a vote is an utter failure to live up to the oath of office for senators, yet the Republican-controlled Senate has done just that.
In fact, there was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the stage Tuesday evening, boasting of his promise to not allow the president of the United States to exercise his powers to fill up vacancies on the Supreme Court, because McConnell said he had promised that honor to the next president. And the delegates cheered! This was possibly the lowest point of the convention thus far."
Commentary: 125 days of not doing their jobs; Senators set new record of inaction on Garland nomination (Progressive Pulse [NC], 07/19/16)
Rob Schofield: "The U.S. Senate is setting a new record for inaction on a Supreme Court justice nomination this week. Today marks 125 days since President Obama submitted the name of Merrick Garland .... Here in North Carolina, we are, sadly, home to two of the chief obstructionists. Senator Richard Burr has not only refused to even address the Garland nomination in anything approaching a thorough way, he has been blocking nominees to the federal court in the state’s eastern district for a full decade now. Meanwhile, Burr’s junior partner, Thom Tillis made national headlines last week (see the cartoon below) with his asinine comment that Senate consideration of judicial nominations has “nothing to do with us doing our jobs.” The bottom line: North Carolina’s U.S. senators are not only not doing their jobs, they clearly don’t even understand what their jobs entail."
Edit Memo: Senate Republicans, Exhausted From Not Doing Their Jobs, Take a 7-Week Vacation, the Longest in 60 Years (People For blog, 07/19/16)
Paul Gordon: "Last week, the GOP-controlled Senate explained why there supposedly wasn’t enough time before an extensive summer recess, the longest in 60 years, to confirm numerous long-standing consensus judicial nominees. In fact, they spent more time making excuses than it would have taken to actually confirm the nominees.
The exchange revealed new depths to which Senate Republicans will sink in order to avoid doing their jobs and voting on the president’s nominees to our lower federal courts, in addition to their unprecedented refusal to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court."
Decoding the Thurmond Rule (American Constitution Society Blog, 07/19/16)
Harsh Voruganti: "approximately one in ten federal judgeships is currently sitting vacant, leading to judicial backlogs in the affected courts. Unfortunately, due to an obscure Senate theory called the Thurmond Rule, this vacancy rate will only increase in the coming weeks.
Despite its moniker, the Thurmond Rule is not a formal Senate rule, but rather an informal theory. ... Regardless of the rhetoric on the issue, there is virtually no precedent for a complete shutdown of judicial nominations upon the summer recess.... In 1980, when the Thurmond Rule was supposedly first invoked, the Senate confirmed two circuit court judges and eleven district court judges after the August recess. In 1988, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed two circuit court judges and nine district court judges after the August recess. In 1992, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed three circuit court judges and nine district court judges post-August. In 2000, a Republican-majority Senate confirmed four district court judges in October. In 2008, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed ten district court judges in late September. ... there is no reason why President Obama cannot see similar confirmation rates.
Additionally, many of the nominees confirmed in previous Congresses were nominated and processed late in the Presidential election season. ... In contrast to 68 judges confirmed by a Democratic Senate in the last two years of the Bush presidency, only 20 judges have been confirmed by the Republican Senate this Congress. ... the Senate maintains a responsibility to continue processing judicial nominations into late September and October. If the Senate fails to meet that goal, it cannot rely on the Thurmond Rule as a defense."
A spotlight on the Supreme Court, and its vacancy (The Hill, 07/19/16)
Geoffrey McGovern: "Before Garland was nominated, a majority of respondents (56 percent) said the seat should be filled before the next president takes office in January. That puts them at odds with the Senate, where there are no signs of movement. In a time of fiercely divided politics about nearly all aspects of American life, a clear majority wants a full bench, but appears unlikely to get it soon."
Letter: Grassley doesn't stand for Iowa values (Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA], 07/19/16)
Natalie Harwood: "Sen. Chuck Grassley no longer represents Iowans by refusing to act on replacing late Justice Antonin Scalia.... The Constitution lays out the roles of the president to nominate and the Senate to “advice and consent.” ... The American people elect their legislators, but they don’t elect judges."
Letter: Extending GOP logic (Concord Monitor [NH], 07/18/16)
Dale Vincent: "The Republican Party’s contention, endorsed by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, is that no U.S. Supreme Court justice proposed by the sitting president should have a hearing this year because it’s an election year.... If that’s what they really believe, then it follows that Ayotte and the remaining third of U.S. senators up for election in November, should have immediately gone home and stayed there until after the election."
The Republicans waged a 3-decade war on government. (Vox, 07/18/16)
Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann: "The Young Guns and their allies, including McConnell, also blew up a series of governing norms.... This "new nullification," as we call it, has left President Obama’s nominee to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, Merrick Garland, drifting in limbo."
Congress’ current ‘August recess,’ which started today, is record-longest… (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 07/18/16)
Betsy Z. Russell: "While Idaho’s two GOP senators were excited to get Idaho U.S. district judge nominee David Nye approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, that Thursday committee vote came at a time when there was virtually no chance of a full Senate vote before September, at the earliest."
Everything You Need To Know About The Republican Party’s Recalcitrance, In One Chart (Think Progress, 07/18/16)
Ian Millhiser: "Nor did the Senate perform much of its other core function — confirming presidential nominees. The Senate’s Republican majority has thus-far kept to it’s promise not to even hold a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. And its hardly used the time freed up by not confirming Garland to move forward on other judicial nominations. To the contrary, the Senate confirmed fewer judges since Republicans gained the majority in 2015 than in any comparable period in a two-term presidency since Harry Truman — and the drop-off from recent presidents is quite stark.
Lest anyone conclude that the current Senate merely returned to a confirmation rate that was normal in our grandparents’ heyday, it is important to note that the size of the federal judiciary has grown tremendously since the Truman presidency. On the day that Truman left office, only 291 life-tenured judges were authorized by federal law. Today, that number is 860. Thus, the Senate confirmed nearly as many judges in the comparable period in the Truman administration as it has confirmed under President Obama, despite the fact that there are now more than three times as many judgeships to fill.
Under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, moreover, the Senate confirmed significantly less than half of the number of judges confirmed during the comparable period in President George W. Bush’s presidency, and about a third of the judges confirmed during similar periods in the Clinton and Reagan presidencies. Notably, Reagan, Clinton and Bush all faced senates that were controlled by the opposite party during their final years in office."
Merrick Garland Deserves a Vote—For Democracy’s Sake: Playing political football with a Supreme Court nomination erodes the rule of law and leaves major issues in limbo (Wall Street Journal, 07/18/16)
President Obama: "Every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 who hasn’t withdrawn from the process has received a hearing or a vote. ... Chief Judge Garland isn’t controversial. ... First, a functioning judiciary—at every level—is essential to the business of the nation. For example, last month, a deadlocked Supreme Court was unable to reach a decision on several major issues, leaving the law itself in limbo. Across the country, judicial vacancies are leaving some lower courts so overwhelmed they can barely make it through their dockets. Twenty-nine judicial emergencies have been declared by lower courts across the country. This has real implications for jurisprudence, real financial costs to the judicial system and real consequences in the lives of people awaiting the outcomes of those cases.
Second, treating the Supreme Court like a political football makes the American people more cynical about democracy. ... So here’s an idea. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate could agree to give Chief Judge Garland a hearing when they return from their extended recess, while also committing to give every future qualified Supreme Court nominee a hearing and a vote within an established time frame. It’s a good idea that my predecessor, President George W. Bush, suggested during his time in office."
Op-Ed: Ruth Bader Ginsburg has nothing to apologize for in her criticism of Donald Trump. (Los Angeles Times, 07/18/16)
Erwin Chemerinsky: "She praised President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, and said that the court’s work is hindered by the Senate’s failure to consider him. I wish more of the justices would explain that the Senate’s refusal to consider this nomination, as well as nominations for lower federal court judgeships, is seriously interfering with the functioning of the courts."
Obama Nominees Caught Between Judicial Dreams, Practice Realities (National Law Journal, 07/17/16)
Zoe Tillman: "after the summer recesses in 2000 and 2008, the Senate did confirm a small number of judges... As is true now, the Senate was controlled in those election years by a different party than the president. [Chart shows 10 for George W. Bush] ... In 2000, there were 38 federal district and circuit court nominees pending at the start of the summer recess and 62 vacancies, according to federal judiciary records. At the same juncture in 2008, there were 37 nominees pending and 41 vacant judgeships.
As of July 15, there were 49 nominees for 80 vacancies. Twenty-six of those nominees have had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and 20 have been sent to the full Senate for a vote. Those numbers don’t cover the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of International Trade and U.S. Court of Federal Claims—eight nominees are pending for nine vacancies on those courts. ... There are 29 vacancies that the federal judiciary considers “judicial emergencies,” due to heavy caseloads in those districts. Nominees are pending for 19 of those seats."
Bill Whitaker: Can Republicans heal our nation’s festering racial wounds? (Waco Tribune-Herald [TX] , 07/17/16)
Tribune-Herald Opinion editor: "Many African Americans deeply resent what they view as racism by Republican lawmakers showing a decided lack of respect for Obama as president. This arose recently in the Senate’s unprecedented refusal to hold hearings or an up-or-down vote regarding the president’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court — ironically, a white moderate, a highly reputable jurist once embraced by many of these same Republicans and an obvious olive branch by Obama to his unforgiving GOP critics.
Some African Americans note how Republican refusal to consider Obama’s nominee essentially treats the chief executive as a “three-fifths president” — an ugly historic reference to how slaves were regarded in census materials in the early days of the republic. ... Confirming Merrick Garland to the high court ought to be a no-brainer for conservative Republicans in the Party of Lincoln. They should fear a Supreme Court pick by political chameleon Donald Trump as much as one by liberal Hillary Clinton. (Ironically, Obama has taken some political heat from the far left for not picking a minority nominee.) If Clinton wins in November and picks a more liberal nominee for the court, Republicans should blame their own leadership for the court’s political drift."
Sen. Ayotte has failed to live up to standards ... (Bedford Journal [NH], 07/16/16)
Ralph Sidore, Letter to the Editor: "Whether it is new policies on immigration, education or the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, refusing to deal with important matters is simply wrong."
Ayotte puts her party before NH citizens (Seacoastonline [Southern ME & NH], 07/15/16)
Peter Coffin, Letter to the Editor: "her obstruction of the Supreme Court confirmation process shows that there is nothing she won’t do for her party leaders."