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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Letter to the Editor on Suprem Court justices (New York Times, 02/20/17)
ERIC LUKINGBEAL: Supreme Court justices first define the strike zone, and then they call a ball or a strike. Umpires don’t get to vary the strike zone, at least not to get a particular result. But Supreme Court justices do get to tinker with the legal strike zone to suit their judicial philosophies. And they get to do it in every case.

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch should not be confirmed (Citizens Voice [Wilkes-Barre, PA], 02/20/17)
John Wills: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch should not be confirmed for many reasons, but primarily his record suggests he will be a real threat to the legal protections for women, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, working men and women, broadly applied religious liberty and limits on money in politics.... In any case, no Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed until Merrick Garland is confirmed.... Democrats should insist that Trump nominate a moderate to the Supreme Court before they will vote to confirm a nominee. If they block Gorsuch, perhaps they can leverage Trump into doing so.

Letter: Should Judge Gorsuch Answer? (New York Times, 02/20/17)
JAMES NEUPERT: Judge Neil M. Gorsuch would not describe his views on a Muslim travel ban, executive power, voter fraud versus voting rights, Citizens United, the Bush v. Gore ruling or the Emoluments Clause in an hour discussion with Senator Charles E. Schumer. Should we assume that Judge Gorsuch had the same nonanswers when he talked with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Stephen K. Bannon before his nomination to the Supreme Court? Absolutely not.

Real People, Real Lives: The Harm Caused By Judge Gorsuch (People For blog, 02/19/17)
Paul Gordon: it is no surprise that Judge Gorsuch has a history of regularly finding ways to put corporations and the powerful first. ... Below are some of the cases Judge Gorsuch has been involved with and the people who have been affected by them—people who have been victimized outside the courtroom and, to the extent Gorsuch’s view prevails, are victimized again.... When Gorsuch’s view carry the day right now, the damage he does is limited to the states covered by the Tenth Circuit; he has also been limited by Supreme Court precedent he may disagree with. Were he to be elevated to the High Court, however, he would be in a position to overrule precedents that have gotten in his way over the past ten years, and the damage he would impose would be nationwide and unreviewable.

Letter: Burden of proof is on Gorsuch (INFORUM [ND], 02/18/17)
Elizabeth Wydra, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center: the independence of Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is essential. Does he read the Constitution not just as it was written in Philadelphia, but also as it's been amended over the centuries to extend "the Blessings of Liberty" to ever greater numbers of people? Does he protect the interests of the powerful or the interests of everyone? Will he stand up to President Trump, if necessary? The burden is on Gorsuch

Letter to the Editor: Re: “In Neil Gorsuch vote, will Michael Bennet be a partisan or a statesman?”  (Denver Post [CO] , 02/18/17)
Bruce Driver: What the court desperately needs is not an ideologue like Scalia but a mainstream thinker, one who can see both sides of the issues and who will not take us back decades or more simply because the founders could not have conceived of all the issues that arise in modern America. I’ve read several of his opinions, and I do not believe that Gorsuch, unlike Merrick Garland, fits that bill. So, if Bennet votes against Gorsuch, he will not be an obstructionist but someone who resists the easy and flawed dichotomy suggested by Gessler.

Former Sen. Gary Hart [on Supreme Court nominations] (Denver Post [CO] , 02/18/17)
Gary Hart, former U.S. senator from Colorado: Scott Gessler seeks to instruct Sen. Michael Bennet on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch without a sense of irony or a mention of the highly partisan, unstatesmanlike behavior of the Republican Senate majority in refusing even to hold hearings on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland throughout the entire year of 2016. To demand high non-partisan, statesmanlike behavior, it is helpful to exhibit it first.

If Michael Bennet opposes Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, is he being partisan? [Letter to the Editor] (Denver Post [CO] , 02/18/17)
Mark Moe: They stole the nomination from President Barack Obama, and now want Bennet to play nice. I say no way. Garland was in every way the equal of Gorsuch. Turnabout is not only fair play, it is necessary to teach Gessler and the Republicans that their miserable and dishonest obstruction is not going to go unanswered.

Letter: Luke Messer distorts truth (Star Press [Muncie, IN], 02/18/17)
ROGER O. SHERWOOD: Rep. Luke Messer wrote a paean to the Republican administration’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. ... One, he denies that Gorsuch’s appointment is a stolen nomination. But, it is exactly that. ... Second, Messer states that the voters “voted for President Trump.” Well, some did, but in truth almost 3 million more people voted for Secretary Clinton than voted for Trump. Clearly, the majority of American voters want a Democrat appointing the next Supreme Court justice. Judge Gorsuch clearly is not the peoples’ choice.

Gorsuch's ruling should disqualify him: Letter to the Editor (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 02/16/17)
Greg Coleridge, Director Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee: While on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch ruled in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case that a corporation, not its owners but the corporation itself, has religious beliefs and rights.... Gorsuch claims that judges should interpret the words of the Constitution at the time they were written. Corporations were not mentioned in the First Amendment

Why the ad campaign touting Gorsuch as justice? (Bozeman Daily Chronicle [MT], 02/16/17)
Lorraine Ekegren: While the ad touts his wonderful background growing up, it never once mentions his ultra-conservative views (and what impact they will have on us and future generations).... And remember, unlike a voted position that has a specific time limit, this powerful Supreme Court position is a lifetime appointment.

Letter: 6 reasons to oppose Gorsuch (Coloradoan, 02/15/17)
Bob Hoffert: Third, Gorsuch will be a real threat to the legal protections for women, reproductive rights, LGBTs, working men and women, broadly applied religious liberty, and limits on money in politics....

Nominee a danger to democracy (Missoulian [MT], 02/15/17)
Katie Carlson and Tyler Gernant, letter to the editor: As parents of two young children, proud Missoulians and attorneys who value the rule of law, we strongly believe that the United States must have an independent judiciary to serve as a check on extreme and unconstitutional policies that threaten our democracy. We urge U.S. Sen. Jon Tester to strongly oppose Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.... We are not convinced that Gorsuch would be able to put aside partisan ideology to dispense equal justice and serve as an independent check on the types of discriminatory attacks we’ve seen in the first two weeks of the Trump administration

The worst case scenario if Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is confirmed: A child-exploiting, racist, security state hellscape. (Think Progress, 02/15/17)
Ian Millhiser: What we do know about Judge Gorsuch, however, should trouble anyone who believes that America’s legal landscape is better today than it was 100 years ago. Despite his professed admiration for Justice Scalia, Gorsuch’s record is more consistent with Scalia’s much more conservative former colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas combines an extraordinary skepticism of the American regulatory state — he embraces the same reading of the Constitution that the Supreme Court once used to strike down child labor laws — with a broadly permissive view of the president’s power to curtail civil liberties in the name of national security.

Column: Why I oppose Gorsuch for Supreme Court (Detroit News [MI], 02/15/17)
Cortney Sanders: Time and time again, Gorsuch has put conservative ideology above fidelity to our core constitutional values — elevating ideology over the rights and well-being of those materially affected by his rulings.... I urge Stabenow to make her voice heard on my behalf and that of all Michiganians.

Neil Gorsuch could be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court (Washington Post, 02/15/17)
Analysis by Profs. Ryan Black and Ryan Owens: Our analysis suggests that if confirmed, Gorsuch might be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court. To determine this, we looked at the opinions decided by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, when Gorsuch joined that court. ... To make an apples-to-apples comparison between Gorsuch and the current Supreme Court justices, we examined cases where the justices reviewed decisions coming from the Tenth Circuit. ... We find that Gorsuch may be more conservative than Justice Clarence Thomas has been.... Gorsuch’s actual voting behavior suggests that he is to the right of both Alito and Thomas, and by a substantial margin. The magnitude of the gap between Gorsuch and Thomas is roughly the same as the gap between Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kennedy during the same time period. In fact, our results suggest that Gorsuch and Justice Scalia would be as far apart as Justices Breyer and Chief Justice Roberts.

Letter: Resist Gorsuch (Post Independent [CO], 02/14/17)
John Hoffmann, letter to the editor: The editors of the Post Independent want the Democrats to play nice after the right refused to even vet Merrick Garland ... I would say be mad as hell and resist the carnage of the right anyway we can.

Commentary: Originalism’s Constitutional Imaginary; Gorsuch's originalism cannot be divorced from its historical biases. (Guernica magazine, 02/14/17)
Derek Palacio: Scalia’s methods—and ergo Gorsuch’s—undoubtedly originate from a psychology of disenfranchisement, a mindset born within racist, sexist, and elitist cultural norms. If the goal of Gorsuch’s originalism is to interpret “legal provisions as their words were originally understood,” then, as Rankine, Loffreda, and Cap make clear, this is an exercise in adopting the mentality of an 18th-century, landholding, slave-owning white male. It is an exercise in reading the Constitution as a person of extreme privilege and without regard for citizens and rights not originally or directly addressed by our founding documents. It is to think like Senator Jefferson Davis, when he proclaimed on the senate floor in 1860 that “this government was not founded by negroes or for negroes, but by white men for white men.” ... the fight this time is about preventing the return to the bench of a perspective that understands the Constitution as a document drafted by and solely created for an insular community of privileged white males.

Dems should filibuster SCOTUS nominee (Mount Airy News [NC], 02/14/17)
Andy Winemiller, column: The U.S. Senate’s failure to act on Garland’s appointment is the greatest injustice of all these recent failed nominees. ... It’s time for Democrats to head to the trenches and filibuster."

Wednesday's letters: Troubling nominees (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 02/14/17)
Elton Fowler: while almost all of our elected Republicans are blindly acceding to Trump's wishes, including Marco Rubio, I urge both of Florida's senators, Rubio and Bill Nelson, to vote down Neil Gorsuch — a judge who believes a person's religious beliefs should supersede following the law of the land.

Lessons from the podium (Salisbury Post [NC], 02/14/17)
Post Opinion by Rob Schofield: For the denizens of the American far right — especially the religious right — the Gorsuch nomination is the vindication of their hypocritical and cringe-inducing embrace of Trump. It is their ultimate victory and the payoff they demanded for their essential assistance in electing a president whose personal character even they abhor.

Conservative Supreme Court justices are only concerned about calling balls and strikes, except when they are striking out (Washington Post, 02/14/17)
Tom Toles, The Washington Post editorial cartoonist's blog: The Clean Air Act defines pollution as a substance emitted into the air that “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” But for Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., this rather stark black-and-white definition is a definition he doesn’t like. ... he manages to overlook the entire — and I mean just about entire — body of scientific work on climate change .... Then he goes on with what apparently he considers compelling logic to say that carbon dioxide can’t be a pollutant because humans produce carbon dioxide naturally, and plants like it! By the same logic, it would not be pollution for people to pipe their toilets directly into lakes and rivers or neighbors’ gardens. And now we all are supposed to relax and be confident that the next “conservative” high court appointee will also only be showing up to call balls and strikes. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to nominee Neil Gorsuch to expect him to tell us if he understands this portion of the Clean Air Act the same way Alito does, which also is likely to be shared by the president who nominated him. Because, after all, to preserve the decorum and deference due to Supreme Court nominations, the stability of the climate of planet Earth is not too large a price to pay.

Letter: GOP’s partisan behavior (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 02/14/17)
Dawn Anderson: I would ask this letter writer to imagine how enraged she would feel if Democrats controlled the Senate and refused to even hold a hearing for a highly qualified Supreme Court nominee put forth by a Republican president — for nearly a year — until they could get a new, Democratic president, in office. What about calls from the Republican Senate to never hold a hearing to fill that vacant seat if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidency? Was that not “partisan behavior”?

Democrats must insist on 60 votes for Gorsuch (Herald-Palladium [MI], 02/14/17)
Melissa Clapper, letter to the editor: There should be tough questioning in Judicial Committee hearings on all of Judge Gorsuch’s positions, especially those pertaining to First Amendment rights (commitment to freedom of the press, protecting the rights of people of all faiths or no faith, and protection of LGBT rights), civil rights, and voter rights. Then, when full vetting has taken place, Democrats must filibuster to force a 60-vote approval on this nominee. This course of action follows standard Senate rules, unlike the egregious manner in which the Republican leadership ignored Obama’s nominee. McConnell and his Republican allies rejected Garland without so much as a Judicial Committee hearing, and essentially stole this appointment. Our country deserves a 60-vote threshold for approving this Supreme Court nominee. If Neil Gorsuch can get 60 votes he should be approved; if not, he should be rejected.

The Readers' Forum: Wednesday letters: Originalism (Winston-Salem Journal [NC] , 02/14/17)
Gary Bolick: Rendering a judgment in the 21st century based on the perceived perspectives of the 18th is not a manner through which one honors the Constitution, it is a way to subvert it. Neither Scalia nor Gorsuch could or can possibly know the world from which they claim to be rendering judgment. Original interpretation of what, exactly? When an individual claims he alone knows the intent, it is a manner through which his own particular view is forced onto the majority.

OPINION: A Threat to Democracy; Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch would be a gift to wealthy campaign donors. (U.S. News & World Report, 02/14/17)
Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause: A majority of voters – including 54 percent of Republicans – said it was "very important" to them that Trump's nominee be open to limiting the influence of big money in politics, ... his troubling concurring opinion in Riddle v. Hickenlooper suggests he is open to a higher level of constitutional protection to a donor's right to make political contributions than to every American's right to vote.

Inquirer Editorial: Trump cabinet, inner circle, raise concerns; not confidence (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 02/13/17)
"It's troubling enough that Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R., Ala.) was confirmed as attorney general, considering he was rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of his comments on race. ... As a U.S. attorney in Alabama, his office wrongly prosecuted three black community organizers for voter fraud. ... During his nomination for a federal judgeship, lawyers who worked with him testified that he made racially insensitive remarks, and called the NAACP "un-American." ... Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) was blocked from reading a letter on the Senate floor that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, Coretta, wrote in 1986. It said Sessions used the "awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens." That is a real concern. The silencing of Warren by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was an act of arrogance and intolerance"

Elections need oversight, not GOP deceit | Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 02/13/17)
Star-Ledger Editorial Board: Voter suppression efforts and the weakening of civil rights protections will go into overdrive with a new Attorney General on board, and Jeff Sessions will be eager to serve and to drive another nail in democracy's coffin: He has opposed the Voting Rights Act, and is clearly disinclined to enforce its remaining provisions.

The next GOP assault on voting rights (Washington Post, 02/13/17)
E.J. Dionne Jr., Opinion writer: The Senate rejected Sessions as a judge 31 years ago. But now that he is our chief law enforcement officer, holding him accountable for how he vindicates or undermines civil rights and voting rights is a central task. ... And the struggle for democracy is also at stake in the fight over President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week of “an eerie feeling” he had when he spoke with Gorsuch. “Here was a judge, well-groomed, intelligent, very polite, very, very articulate, who wouldn’t give his views on anything,” Schumer said. This reminded him of someone else. “Justice [John] Roberts, then-Judge Roberts, assured us he would call balls and strikes,” Schumer said. “He gets in office, and his court does Citizens United, a huge break with precedent that ruins, ruins the politics of America. He repeals, basically, the Voting Rights Act by eliminating Section 5 . . . and I am very worried that Judge Gorsuch is similar.” The court’s action on voting rights made it far harder to police abuses, while Citizens United undercut the regulation of big money in politics. So if you wonder why there is skepticism among liberals about Gorsuch, consider what conservative Supreme Court justices have already done.

Like DeVos, Gorsuch Fails to Understand Laws Protecting Students with Disabilities (People For blog, 02/13/17)
Sarah Lobe: Like DeVos, Judge Gorsuch has proven that he does not understand IDEA or how it should be applied. But that hasn’t stopped him from using it to make a bad judgement that seriously impacts students with disabilities.... To Judge Gorsuch, those educational benefits “must merely be more than de minimis.” But parents of children with disabilities, other circuit courts, disability rights NGOs, federal government education experts, and 118 members of Congress commenting on the intent of IDEA say that Judge Gorsuch is wrong to impose such a low standard. By incorrectly applying IDEA in Luke’s case, Judge Gorsuch set a harmful legal precedent for other students with disabilities that is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.