Editorials and Opinion
Iowa U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (Des Moines Register [IA] , 05/02/13)
"The average voter doesn’t appreciate the significance of federal judicial confirmations in their lives. The federal judges, the district court, the appellate level and the Supreme Court have an enormous impact on the lives of Americans and Iowans.... we’ve got this incredible backlog due to obstructionism by the Senate Republicans that’s keeping these nominees from getting an up or down vote. And so we have vacancies, and that denies people justice."
Moran, Roberts can help on judicial vacancies (Wichita Eagle [KS] , 05/02/13)
WE Blog, The Wichita [KS] Eagle Editorial Department Blog By Rhonda Holman: "the bigger problem is Republican senators quietly refusing to recommend potential judges in the first place.” Two of those mentioned GOP senators are Kansas’ Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts, “neither of whom has put forward nominees for a district court slot there that has been vacant for 1,246 days.""
On the Importance of Judges (Environmental Forum, 05/01/13)
John C. Cruden, President, Environmental Law Institute: "At a recent meeting for environmental leaders held at the White House, we were asked whether our organizations really understand the importance of judges. I responded for everyone that you could not be in the environmental community without recognizing the critical importance of a well-informed judiciary in the upward trajectory of environmental policy....the United States has a staggering number of federal court vacancies: 68 in district courts and 17 in courts of appeal. Some 29 of these vacancies are considered to be emergencies. ... While all federal courts are important to environmental practitioners, the D.C. Circuit has a special place in our history and future."
Broken Circuit: Obstructionism in the Environment’s Most Important Court (Environmental Forum, 05/01/13)
Doug Kendall and Simon Lazarus: "the D.C.
Circuit’s conservatives, particularly its farthest-right new members, Kavanaugh and Brown, may be responding to the signals sent by their allies on the Supreme Court ...Several recent decisions evince an uptick in the D.C. Circuit conservatives’ willingness to imperil major regulatory initiatives, and even undermine the institutional capacity of agencies to function ... There remain four vacancies on the D.C. Circuit. Protracted struggle will determine how many of those seats President Obama fills in the nearly four years remaining in his second term."
Obama agenda slowed by delayed nominations and confirmations (NBC News, 05/01/13)
Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer: "Other important nominations are waiting in the pipeline or not yet made:
• Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan to serve as a judge on the powerful Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit - -the court which among other power decides the fate of many rules issued by the EPA, the FCC and other federal regulators. Although Srinivasan had a very successful Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing three weeks ago, no date has yet been set by the committee for a vote to move his nomination to the Senate floor. So far, after nearly four and a half years in the White House, Obama has not gotten to see any nominee confirmed to that influential court."
Severely Conservative Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ban On Gun Sales To People Under 21 (Think Progress, 04/30/13)
Ian Millhiser: "Beyond the fact that two Bush-appointees voted to uphold this law, the judges who called for it to be struck down include some of the most severely conservative judges in the country.... Judge Priscilla Owen once took thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions from Enron when she sat on the Texas Supreme Court, and then wrote a key opinion reducing Enron’s taxes by $15 million."
Obama's Judicial Nominees Blocked On All Sides By Senate Republicans (Huffington Post, 04/30/13)
Jennifer Bendery: "It's bad enough that there are 82 vacant federal judge slots around the country, a level so high that many observers have deemed it a crisis situation.
But perhaps even more startling is the fact that of those 82 vacant slots, 61 of them don't even have a nominee....a closer look at data on judicial nominees, and conversations with people involved in the nomination process, reveals the bigger problem is Republican senators quietly refusing to recommend potential judges in the first place....since Obama took office, senators from some states -- particularly those represented by two Republicans -- have simply refused to make recommendations"
Senate Republicans totally boycott judicial nominee process (Daily Kos, 04/30/13)
Joan McCarter: "It's no secret that Senate Republicans have one purpose in political life: total obstruction of President Obama's and Senate Democrats' agenda. It's no secret that to do so, they've ground the work of the Senate to a halt with the filibuster, blocking an unprecedented number of bills and nominations, including judicial nominations. The judiciary crisis is no secret, either:... Republicans point the finger at President Obama, saying that out of the 82 vacancies, 61 don't even have a nominee. How, they say, can we be responsible for this crisis when the President won't even make the nominations. Well, it turns out, Republicans are even blocking that process: they're refusing to allow the simple process of nominations go forward."
Slowing Judicial Nominations Right from the Start (American Constitution Society Blog, 04/30/13)
Jeremy Leaming: "Grassley and others, however, should take a look at the work of Jennifer Bendery at The Huffington Post, who notes, like other honest observers of the fight over judicial nominations, that the obstruction is and always has been the product of Republican senators. A careful look at the judicial nominations process reveals, she writes, “the bigger problem is Republican senators quietly refusing to recommend potential judges in the first place.”
Make ‘Em Plead? The House's “Gang of Eight” immigration compromise may require 11 million court dates. (American Prospect, 04/30/13)
Harold Meyerson: "At a time when the backlog of cases before the courts has reached staggering proportions, Republicans on the House immigration working group have come up with a proposal to lengthen judicial waits beyond all imaginable horizons.... even if the number of immigrants who must show up is reduced by half, that’s still a lot of people who’ll be lining up at federal courthouses if and when a bill requiring such pleas is enacted. And this at a time when the courts are already swamped, and when Republicans are either taking forever to confirm, or using the filibuster to reject, President Obama’s judicial appointments.
So here’s my own proposed compromise, which I have vetted with absolutely nobody. If the price for a Republican sign-on to immigration reform is to drown the courts in pleading immigrants, Democrats should link that to the GOP agreeing to stop filibustering Obama’s judicial appointees.... You want ‘em to plead? Then give the courts enough judges they can plead to."
A challenge to Sen. King (Portland Daily Sun [ME], 04/29/13)
Columnist Robert Libby: "Filibuster has continued to block appointment of President Obama's nominee to the [D.C. Circuit] Court of Appeals; this court considers more cases of regulation of industry than any other court in the country. Senator Collins stated her opposition to Ms. Halligan's nomination was based on the adequate number of judges on the panel, no vacancy needed to be filled. So presently that court operates with fewer judges than ever and President Obama has not been able to seat a single nominee on that court in five years."
Grijalva: My Colleagues Want to Gut Endangered Species Act (Roll Call, 04/29/13)
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva: "This landmark law — signed by President Richard Nixon when protecting the environment was less controversial in Washington — has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals under its protection because it takes a big-picture approach. When we protect species, we also protect the wild forests, deserts, rivers and streams where they live. This means more biological diversity, cleaner air and water, a healthier climate and more sustainable natural resources for which future generations will thank us.
Sustaining rivers, forests and deserts is good for our economy. ... The Endangered Species Act is too valuable to shred for the sake of a pesticide company’s bottom line, a sweetheart mining deal or any other grab for money at the environment’s expense. Let’s keep up the good work rather than turning back the clock."
EDITORIAL: Wolves need more time; Feds should abandon planned delisting in Lower 48 (Register Guard [OR] , 04/27/13)
"The recovery of the gray wolf is a success story that illustrates the effectiveness of the federal Endangered Species Act. But the Obama administration fails to see that it’s a story whose final chapters have yet to be penned. ... The Fish and Wildlife Service is under intense pressure from ranchers, hunters and some federal and state officials to remove the remaining protections. As Jamie Rappaport Clark, the former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and now the president of Defenders of Wildlife, notes, the agency’s latest delisting decision “reeks of politics.”"
Editorial: Earth Day (Darien Times [CT], 04/27/13)
"The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. ... So for the benefit of all living things, including humanity, let’s focus on giving back to our planet which has given to us in such abundance."
EDITORIAL: Earth Day unnoticed at our perilmad (Madison Eagle [NJ], 04/26/13)
"The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge gyre of plastic, chemical sludge and debris washed out to sea and concentrated by the North Pacific’s currents, is deadly to sea turtles and sea birds. ...A majority of biologists conclude that worldwide, a mass extinction of species is under way – due to human activity – that will dwarf the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.... That first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts ... Citizens who care about the Earth and future generations must redouble their efforts to make a difference."
Why The Confirmation Of An Outstanding Judge Still Proves The Senate Is Terrible (Think Progress, 04/25/13)
Ian Millhiser: "It is fantastic news that Kelly is now a judge. Beyond the fact that she is talented and that she adds another name to the short list of potential Supreme Court nominees in a Democratic administration, former public defenders are very rare on the federal bench ... But a person shouldn’t have to be friends with a guy who is friends with Chuck Grassley in order to avoid a grueling confirmation process."
Ongoing Obstruction in Senate Rekindles Calls for Filibuster Reform (American Constitution Society Blog, 04/25/13)
Jeremy Leaming: "Republicans have crafted a new norm of requiring a supermajority to end debate and allow up-or-down votes on legislation and nominations. ... Since the deal Republicans have blocked President Obama’s nomination of Caitlin Halligan to a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, threatened to scuttle his nominations to the National Labor Relations Board and undermine the operation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The lame filibuster deal and the ongoing obstruction by Republican senators have spurred a coalition of public interest groups to pressure the Senate to change its ways."
Confirming Eighth Circuit Judge, Sen. Leahy Blasts Effort to Hobble D.C. Circuit (American Constitution Society Blog, 04/24/13)
Jeremy Leaming: "Senate Republicans led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) have stuck to agenda of obstruction.... Grassley unveiled his plan to keep the D.C. Circuit from shifting much in ideology – currently the court tilts rightward and has proved hostile to federal regulations, such as efforts to enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water laws. Grassley claims the D.C. Circuit has too many judges and a light caseload. He has introduced a bill to slash the number of judges to eight. If Grassley and the other obstructionists have their way, Obama will be fortunate to get one nominee confirmed to the D.C. Circuit.... The Judicial Conference of the United States, chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. in an April 5 letter, Leahy noted, recommended keeping the D.C. Circuit’s 11 judgeships. Moreover, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has noted the Circuit’s caseload has “increased by 50 percent since 2005.”
Regarding caseloads of the federal appeals court circuits, Leahy noted that with Kelly’s confirmation, the “Eighth Circuit will have the lowest number of pending appeals per active judge of any circuit in the country. Yes, lower than the D.C. Circuit.”
Leahy then rattled off the scores of judicial nominations the Senate obstructionists have delayed or scuttled during Obama’s presidency, leading to a vacancy rate that has hovered at 80 or above for several years now."
Confirm the judges (The Hill, 04/24/13)
Brent Budowsky: "It is time to end the obstruction against justice committed by Senate Republicans who first abuse the senatorial courtesy known as blue slips, which gives senators a voice in presidential nominations of federal judges, and then abuse the Senate filibuster rules, to obstruct confirmation of judicial nominees ... a growing number of Senate Republicans are abusing this extra-constitutional and non-statutory blue-slip practice with a contempt for courtesy that obstructs the pursuit of justice. They prevent the confirmation of federal judges with one-senator or two-senator vetoes. They willfully and deliberately keep large numbers of judicial posts vacant ... If this abusive contempt of senatorial courtesy does not end promptly, the blue-slip practice should be ended."
Don't weaken the successful Endangered Species Act (Mercury News [CA] , 04/24/13)
Jeff Miller, director of the Alameda Creek Alliance in Niles: "regionally significant stream restoration has been driven by Endangered Species Act protections for steelhead trout, ... The Endangered Species Act is the main reason we now have abundant and healthy populations of brown pelicans and peregrine falcons in the Bay Area. ... A full 99 percent of the more than 1,400 plants and animals protected under the act have been saved from extinction, and hundreds of them are on the road to recovery."
How the Senate cheats New York: We cede our power to Wyoming (New York Daily News, 04/22/13)
Norm Ornstein: "it now means that even when a clear majority of senators favor a bill or a nominee for executive or judicial posts, that is not enough. And in an era of partisan polarization, where minority Republicans act regularly as if they were a parliamentary minority, reflexively voting together in opposition, it means that a majority party is routinely stymied."
Editorial; What We Think: A day to save the planet (Valdosta Daily Times [GA], 04/22/13)
"The first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
There are those who will claim these acts have hindered human ambition and endeavor rather than help the planet. But these acts may well save the life-support system for our children and their children and all of our descendants to come."
Prioritize appointing U.S. judges (Cincinnati Enquirer [OH] , 04/21/13)
By Laurel Bellows, president of the American Bar Association: "With 86 (one in 10) vacancies on our federal bench and with 37 vacant judgeships qualifying as judicial emergencies, the time for collaboration and compromise is now."
Senate epitomizes do-nothingness (Atlanta Journal Constitution, 04/20/13)
Jay Bookman: "The U.S. Senate is a broken institution, and for that its members have no one to blame but themselves and their inflated sense of self-importance and privilege. The problem is, the consequences of that breakdown are becoming increasingly unsustainable.... the Founders never contemplated that individual senators, or a minority of senators, would be given the power to permanently block presidential nominations. It throws the entire mechanism out of whack, especially now that such power is being used so routinely."
A 21st-century blueprint for saving Oregon species from climate change: Guest opinion (Oregonian, 04/20/13)
Bill Bradbury, former Oregon secretary of state: "the Endangered Species Act.... which turns 40 this year, is not without its critics, and I can be frustrated by how long it can take to get protection for critically imperiled species and, once they're listed, how long it can take to get a recovery plan in place.
Yet, when we use it as intended, the law can have a tremendous impact. More than 90 percent of the species it protects have been saved from extinction, and hundreds are on the road to recovery. Here in Oregon, some of our most cherished species -- from coho salmon to gray whales and bald eagles -- owe their existence to the Endangered Species Act."
Seib & Wessel: What We’re Reading Tuesday (Wall Street Journal, 04/20/13)
Recommended reading from around the Web, by Gerald F. Seib and David Wessel: "Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) looks at the rash of vacant federal judgeships around the country–82 vacant federal judge slots—and notes that for a startling 61 of them there hasn’t even been a nominee put forward to the Senate. But she says that isn’t simply because President Obama isn’t moving; a large part of the problem is that Republican senators aren’t nominating judges for district court nominees, which by tradition, they recommend. [Huffington Post]"
The Register editorial: Grassley wants to whittle down court (Des Moines Register [IA] , 04/20/13)
"U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has gotten a lot of attention for his proposal to reduce the size of the second most powerful federal court from 11 judges to eight. ... Grassley insists he just wants to redistribute court resources without increasing the judiciary budget. Maybe, but we don’t remember Grassley having these budget concerns when Republican presidents were packing the court."
Editorial: Help wanted: Judges; Federal benches: Empty (Free Lance-Star [VA] , 04/18/13)
"Now, 87 of 874 federal judgeships are vacant, causing trials postponements and the shuttling in of judges from neighboring courts.... Justice is served when the judiciary is adequately staffed. The president should step up the pace of nominations; the Senate should swiftly approve all but the ethical stinkers or the grossly unqualified. ... Four vacancies exist on the D.C. bench--one since 2005. Mr. Srinivasan, a moderate nominated 10 months ago, is about to come under full Senate scrutiny. Will the merry-go-round stop spinning and allow his confirmation? Let us hope."