Editorials and Opinion
The Wrong Path on Judicial Nominees (Huffington Post, 07/25/16)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: "Unfortunately, Judge Garland now has another distinction: due to unprecedented inaction by Senate Republicans, he has waited longer for a vote than any other Supreme Court nominee.... Republicans are setting another dangerous precedent: lower-court confirmations have slowed to a trickle in the final two years of a presidency.
While this obstruction receives far less attention than the Supreme Court vacancy, it has a far-reaching effect on the ability of our lower courts to deliver justice.
Confirming well-qualified nominees to these positions is one of the Senate’s most important responsibilities, as district and circuit courts handle the vast majority of federal cases. But this job is not getting done.
During the last two years of the George W. Bush administration, a Democratic Senate reduced the number of vacancies. Sixty-eight district and circuit court nominees were confirmed. The number of vacancies was reduced to 34 by October 2008 — the month before the election.... But in the last two years of the Obama administration, just 20 district and circuit court nominees have been confirmed. The last time so few nominees were confirmed was 1952 — when the federal judiciary was one-third of its current size.
Vacancies are skyrocketing due to the Senate’s inaction. Eighty-six judgeships are vacant, about 10 percent of the federal judiciary. There will be eight more vacancies by the end of the year — nearly three times as many as there were in October 2008.
According to the Judicial Conference of the United States, 29 of these vacancies are judicial emergencies."
Letter: What will you do, Senator (Concord Monitor [NH], 07/24/16)
Peter Hoe Burling: "This is a letter to Sen. Ayotte, who has said she will not hold a hearing or a vote on the nomination of Chief Justice Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
More than 130 days have expired since Judge Garland was nominated, the longest period of inaction on an appointment to the court in the history of our nation."
EDITORIAL: Sad record (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 07/24/16)
"Judge Merrick Garland became the Supreme Court nominee to wait the longest time without a Senate confirmation hearing.... A century ago, the reasons for the Brandeis delay were obvious. He was the first Jewish nominee for the Supreme Court and the country was infected with a virulent strain of anti-Semitism. ... Today’s Republican obstructionists in the Senate are just as shameful .... The script they read from holds that there should be no hearing because Mr. Obama is in the last year of his last term and “voters should have a say.” That is preposterous. Voters expressed their view in electing Mr. Obama twice.... The Senate Republican majority’s refusal to engage in that process is a hypocritical and historic dereliction of constitutional duty of which they should be ashamed"
PD Editorial: Senate’s new record for dysfunction (Press Democrat [CA] , 07/23/16)
"Wednesday was the 126th day since President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. More than four months have passed, and the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to vote on the nomination or even schedule a confirmation hearing. Some senators refuse to meet with Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Never in the 225-year history of the republic has the Senate neglected for so long its constitutional duty to advise and consent on a Supreme Court appointment.... If McConnell keeps his word, it will be the first time that the Senate has ever refused to consider a Supreme Court nominee. That would be a dangerous precedent.... McConnell disingenuously insists it would be inappropriate for senators to vote on a Supreme Court nomination during the final year of Obama’s term.
Obama, like all presidents, was elected for four years, not three....Obama, in his commentary, urged not only a vote on Garland but a commitment from senators in both parties to guarantee a hearing and a vote on all Supreme Court nominees within a fixed period of time. The idea originated with President George W. Bush.
It’s an idea worthy of a bipartisan compromise."
Editorial: 125 Day Delay on Supreme Court Nominee Prompts Citizens to Act (Milwaukee Courier [WI], 07/23/16)
"Last week marked 125 days since President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
This is the longest-ever in the history of the United States Supreme Court that a nominee has had to wait for a fair hearing or a vote. Concerned citizens went to Sen. Ron Johnson’s Milwaukee district office to present him with a leadership award for his unprecedented Senate obstructionism. The award is an act to get Sen. Johnson and other Senate Republicans to give a fair vote and a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland.... Chief Judge Merrick Garland has wide bipartisan support"
EDITORIAL: Top picks clear in most races (Salina Journal [KS], 07/22/16)
"We were disappointed in [Sen. Jerry] Moran, however, when he bowed to pressure from the right and decided not to support holding hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, after initially saying he would support hearings."
Grassley’s big blunder on health care law (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/22/16)
Op-Ed By David Balducchi and Jack Hatch: "Sen. Chuck Grassley and Senate Republicans have been justly castigated for botching their jobs and not giving President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee an honest vote. But this display of obstruction may not be Grassley’s biggest blunder."
Congress hurts Florida Courts (Cape Coral Daily Breeze [FL], 07/22/16)
Deborah Green, Letter to the Editor: "It has now been over 155 days since President Obama put forth a Supreme Court Justice nominee so Congress can fix our broken judicial system. The nominee is Judge Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. The republican party is refusing to fulfill their constitutional duty of voting up or down for this well suited judge .... In fact, there are still 60 state federal vacancies and 30 federal emergencies in our courts across the country that Republicans have yet to nominate, that are currently crippling our United States Court systems."
Editorial: Poll finds Missouri voters more open to change than politicians (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 07/22/16)
"Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., last week issued a head-scratcher of a Missouri political poll…. surprising findings: … Fifty-nine percent of Missouri voters want the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court."
Editorial: GOP senators taking huge risk with standoff over nominee (Longmont Daily Times-Call [CO], 07/22/16)
"Senate inaction on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland is not unconstitutional per se. But clearly, it's political — and, for the body given the power of "advice and consent," is more glaringly wrong-headed and impractical as this impasse stretches.
As of this week, Judge Garland has gone longer than any other Supreme Court nominee without being confirmed or rejected.... Republicans in the Senate are taking a risk — a huge risk — in planning on a holdout that could last 11 months.... As part of their constitutional charge to provide advice and consent, these senators should do their job and begin the confirmation process for Merrick Garland. Vet this judge and vote on him"
Supreme Court vacancy watch Day 159: Meet Inga Bernstein, another blockaded nominee (Daily Kos, 07/21/16)
Joan McCarter: "Day 159 since Justice Antonin Scalia died and Mitch McConnell laid down his Supreme Court blockade: No meetings, no hearings, no votes on his replacement. It's also Day 122 since President Obama named Merrick Garland ... Meanwhile, here's a federal judicial nominee they're keeping off the bench: ... Despite the fact that the Republicans on the committee had a major problem with her sexual orientation, they approved her and sent the nomination on to the full Senate. Where it's stalled.
Because Mitch McConnell is refusing to do his job."
How the G.O.P. Outsourced the Judicial Nomination Process. (New York Times, 07/21/16)
Linda Greenhouse Op-Ed: "The N.R.A.’s instant and evidence-free denunciation of Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy, may have appeared to be just piling on, since Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, had already announced that no nominee would even be granted a hearing. But in fact, it was merely the tip of the iceberg.... Senator McConnell, who was then the minority leader, went to his friends at the N.R.A. to ask a favor: oppose the Sotomayor nomination and “score” the vote....The scenario was repeated the following year with the nomination of Elena Kagan .... The N.R.A. was also largely responsible for the defeat of Caitlin J. Halligan, a distinguished Obama administration nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The president submitted her name three times, but she never got a vote.... And what about Merrick Garland, whose nomination to the Supreme Court passed the four-month mark the other day? The N.R.A. objects to his vote on the D.C. Circuit, where he is chief judge, to give a full-court rehearing to a three-judge panel’s opinion that the District of Columbia’s strict gun-control law was unconstitutional. He was joined in that unsuccessful vote by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of the more conservative judges ever to sit on the appeals court."
Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 7/21/2016 (The White House, 07/21/16)
"Well, we’ve reached an unfortunate milestone, as I noted earlier this week, that Chief Judge Garland has now gone longer without a hearing than any other Supreme Court nominee in history that wasn’t later withdrawn. And that’s rather unfortunate when you consider that Chief Judge Garland has another distinction, which is that he is arguably the most experienced Supreme Court nominee in American history. He has served more years on the federal bench than any other individual who’s ever been nominated for the Supreme Court.
When you couple that with the highest possible rating that he received from the nonpartisan ABA and from the clear assessment of Republican senators, including Orrin Hatch, who described him as a unanimous -- or a consensus nominee, I think that’s an indication that he’s not being treated fairly by Republicans. I think it’s a clear indication that Republicans are not doing their job."
EDITORIAL: It's the court, stupid (Gazette (Colorado Springs), 07/20/16)
"This election is about a choice of lesser evils and the havoc either could wreak.
At stake for Republicans is the Supreme Court of the United States. If Clinton wins, she may appoint up to five judges .... At stake for Democrats is . the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump has assured conservatives he will appoint originalist justices, first screened by the right-of-center Federalist Society."
EDITORIAL: Zika threat gets worse, Congress skips town (Miami Herald, 07/20/16)
"In fact, and as shameful, Congress left a long list of unfinished business before lawmakers went off to campaign for reelection and attend the political conventions: a measure to prevent terrorists from acquiring firearms, scores of judicial confirmations, a broad criminal justice reform bill, basic appropriations bills and much more. And, of course, the Supreme Court nomination the Senate refused to hear."
Editorial: Congress skips out on vital business (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 07/20/16)
"The fact remains they left important business hanging as they headed for the airport.
For instance, Idaho is awaiting confirmation of David Nye as federal judge. He was nominated to be the state’s second federal district judge, replacing Judge Edward Lodge who took senior status last July. The state has been getting by with just one federal district judge for a year. Now it will wait another seven weeks, at best.
The Senate Judiciary Committee finally voted to confirm Nye on Thursday, but he can’t begin work until the full Senate takes a vote. Seventeen other judges have been waiting even longer to be confirmed. Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, can’t even get a hearing.
Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Z. Russell, who covers Idaho politics, conducted research on “August” recesses and found this to be the longest one since they began, in 1971."
Commentary: With Merrick Garland obstruction, U.S. Senate sets sad milestone (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 07/20/16)
Frederick Lawrence: "Judge Merrick Garland has set a record he never sought and one of which no one, certainly not the U.S. Senate, should be proud. July 19 marks 125 days since President Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The nomination passes the record for delay that the Senate set a century ago with the nomination of Louis D. Brandeis to the court.... Even the battle over the Brandeis nomination a century ago culminated in a vote on the floor of the Senate. ... Today marks a new low - the Senate refuses even to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland. I join lawyers and scholars from across the political and legal spectrum in observing that Garland is an exceptionally qualified nominee ... The constitutional responsibility of the Senate to provide advice and consent is clear.... the institution whose credibility is most at risk from this obstruction is the U.S. Senate itself."
Leo Almeida (Opinion) (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 07/20/16)
Leo Almeida: "While the Supreme Court is not solely to blame for the broken state of immigration, this decision brings to light a glaring problem with our current court. The Supreme Court is meant to be a nine-justice court to prevent exactly this type of gridlock, and we are starting to see the negative effects an eight-justice court has on our country. Because of political maneuvering by Senate Republicans, we are now seeing partisan congestion in the one institution that was created to alleviate such inaction and ambiguity: the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, decided to put politics ahead of doing their job and now more families across Ohio will face the impacts of an eight-justice court. By refusing to hold hearings for President Barack Obama's current Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, they are not only disregarding their duties to uphold the Constitution but also their duties to their constituents. Because, while immigration may be the most recent example of the negative consequences of the Supreme Court's 4-4 decisions on the lives of Ohioans, it certainly won't be the last."
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."
EDITORIAL: The Report Card for July 21 (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 07/20/16)
"Staff grades: F to the continued logjam on judicial appoints in the U.S. Senate, which of course includes a Supreme Court nominee who’s been languishing without a hearing for more than four months. Last week a batch of other nominees were presented for votes, only to be shot down by N.C.’s junior Senator, Thom Tillis, saying that “What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs.’’ ... considering the stonewalling on judges, it is in fact easy to say the Senate isn’t doing its job. One of the vacant seats, for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, has been empty for 10 and a half years."
Why 2016 may actually be the most important election of our lifetime (The Hill, 07/20/16)
Evan Berryhill: "Once the new Senate is sworn in, they will have a very important duty to fulfill; the duty of confirming the new presidential appointment to the Supreme Court. The Senate has already made clear they have no intentions of taking up a vote on President Obama nominee Merrick Garland, but they will certainly be taking up a vote on the choice by the new president. Currently, the court sits at a 4-4 split, making this next presidential appointment one that will sway the balance of the court. However, while the new president is likely to take office with one Supreme Court appointment to make, there is a chance that the next president could have one or even two additional appointments to the high court before their time as president is up, even if they only serve one term. This could ultimately end up being a presidency that sways the balance of the court for the next 20 years."
Editorial: 'Full Grassley' isn't all that it's cracked up to be (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/20/16)
"Progress Iowa is correct to question whether “The Full Grassley” is all that it’s cracked up to be.
Case in point: In late March, amidst the furor over Grassley’s refusal to hold confirmation hearings on the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, the senator met with hundreds of constituents across western Iowa. But only three of his 19 planned events during that congressional spring recess were publicly announced town hall meetings — and those were in the three most heavily Republican counties in the state."
Judge Garland’s Nomination, Day 126 (New York Times, 07/20/16)
Jeffrey Rosen, Op-Ed: " on March 16, Merrick B. Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court. Today, therefore, he surpasses the record previously held by Louis D. Brandeis .... There’s reason to believe that Judge Garland, if confirmed, would also be a unifying figure. ... If Judge Garland is confirmed, he could be just what America needs to help bring us together at a time when justices and citizens of different perspectives have never seemed so far apart."
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."
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."