Editorials and Opinion
Senate is to 'advise and consent,' not delay and obstruct (Bucks County Courier Times [PA], 08/24/16)
Guest Opinion by Gary Laitman: "Merrick Garland is by all measures highly qualified to be the next Supreme Court Justice but unfortunately Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and others on the Senate Judiciary Committee have refused to allow hearings to proceed.
Toomey has now succeeded in delaying the start of hearings for longer than at any time in American history!"
Vacancies create emergency in federal courts, by Sun Sentinel Editorial Board (Sun Sentinel [FL], 08/23/16)
"An emergency exists in Florida's federal court system and the group responsible for fixing the problem — the U.S. Senate — just yawns and shrugs its collective shoulders. .... And it's not just Florida that is suffering. More than 10 percent of the nation's 677 federal district judgeships are vacant, awaiting approval by the Senate. In Florida, five of 37 district judge slots, 14 percent, are unfilled. ... With a smaller number of judges taking on the growing responsibility, workloads increase, delays lengthen and costs rise.... "It's like an emergency room in a hospital," said Southern District Chief Judge Federico Moreno. " ... Eventually you burn out."... justice delayed is justice denied. It's now so bad in Florida that four of the vacancies have been declared "judicial emergencies." ... in states that have both a Republican and Democratic senator, it is easy for one of them to stop such a vote, which in Florida is what Republican Sen. Marco Rubio did on Southern District nominee Mary Barzee Flores"
The (Supreme) Courts of Texas: Judge’s Power Grab (Justice Watch, 08/22/16)
"Of course, these developments should come as no surprise if you step back and look at the disastrous state of the federal judiciary in Texas. Thanks to Republican obstruction led by Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Texas has the most federal judicial vacancies of any state in the country. Moreover, all twelve of Texas’s current vacancies (including two on the Fifth Circuit) have been declared judicial emergencies by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. That means Texas is home to more than a third of the 32 judicial emergencies nationwide.
Cruz and Cornyn have systematically delayed and obstructed filling federal vacancies in Texas for years. Two Texas seats on the Fifth Circuit have sat vacant for a combined total of 2,447 days—more than six and a half years. The Southern District of Texas, where Judge Hanen sits, has two vacancies, while the Northern District of Texas, where Judge O’Connor sits, has four vacancies. In fact, the Northern District of Texas has no Obama appointees whatsoever, with Republican appointees outnumbering Democratic appointees by three to one."
A sworn duty to act: In not holding hearings on Garland, Senate Republicans are causing grave damage to the nation (MinnPost [MN], 08/22/16)
Retired MN Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson: "The refusal of Senate Republicans to allow any hearing on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court is a reckless and dangerous act. The senators are shirking their duty to defend and support the Constitution and in the process are causing grave damage to our country. At best, the refusal to act is a violation of the senators’ sworn oath “to defend and support the Constitution.” At worst, it is an unpatriotic act."
Letter: Sweet also deserves a vote on nomination (Buffalo News [NY], 08/22/16)
Frank Housh, Esq.: "Merrick Garland has now been waiting longer than any other Supreme Court nominee. Garland deserves to be considered by the Senate, and so do the American people who need a functioning judiciary.
But Garland is not the only nominee waiting for the Senate to do its job. Buffalo attorney Kathleen Sweet, nominated by President Obama in March to fill the U.S. District Court vacancy in the Western District of New York, has been waiting since March 8. While the Supreme Court vacancy is devastating, the majority of cases never make it to the highest court; they are heard by the nearly 900 lower Federal Court judges nationwide. Ten percent of these seats sit vacant, however, because the Senate majority places ideology above the public good.... I urge the Judiciary Committee to report her nomination out of committee so Sweet can receive full consideration by the Senate as soon as possible. She – like all pending nominees – deserves a vote on the merits.
When it comes to confirming judges, the Senate needs to do its job."
Speak Out (Chicago Tribune, 08/22/16)
Ed: "To Republican haters of President Barack Obama who complain about what he hasn't done: I wonder where your head was when the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked everything our president tried to do. Obama came up with good ideas that were automatically shut down, just like his appointment of Merrick Garland, a moderate, to the U.S. Supreme Court, isn't being looked at. It's being laughed about by McConnell."
End logjam of gridlock, fill federal court slots: Where We Stand [Editorial] (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 08/21/16)
"An emergency exists in Florida's federal court system and the group responsible for fixing the problem — the U.S. Senate — just yawns and shrugs its collective shoulders. .... And it's not just Florida that is suffering. More than 10 percent of the nation's 677 federal district judgeships are vacant, awaiting approval by the Senate. In Florida, five of 37 district judge slots, 14 percent, are unfilled. ... With a smaller number of judges taking on the growing responsibility, workloads increase, delays lengthen and costs rise.... "It's like an emergency room in a hospital," said Southern District Chief Judge Federico Moreno. " ... Eventually you burn out."... justice delayed is justice denied.
It's now so bad in Florida that four of the vacancies have been declared "judicial emergencies." ... in states that have both a Republican and Democratic senator, it is easy for one of them to stop such a vote, which in Florida is what Republican Sen. Marco Rubio did on Southern District nominee Mary Barzee Flores"
Our view: Republican Senate should confirm Erie judge [EDITORIAL] (Erie Times-News [PA], 08/19/16)
"It has been three years now that citizens of seven northwestern Pennsylvania counties have gone without their own federal district judge .... But even though Toomey has called for a confirmation vote — at least on Baxter and Judge Marilyn Jean Horan, a Butler County Republican nominated for a federal judgeship in Pittsburgh — the Republican-controlled Senate has refused.... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invokes math as a flimsy rationale when it comes to nominations like Baxter's. Obama has had more federal judges confirmed than President George W. Bush did — a comparison that means little when Obama has faced more vacancies.... When the Senate goes back to work in the fall, it should act quickly to seat Baxter and the other Pennsylvania nominee, for no other reason than a fully functioning judiciary is key to a functioning democracy."
Time is Running Out to Confirm Judge Garland (Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, 08/19/16)
Edward A. Fallone: "the unjustified refusal to hold hearings on a highly-regarded and moderate Supreme Court nominee has the potential to dwarf every other political miscalculation that Republican leaders have made over the last eight years.
First of all, it is important to recognize that Judge Merrick Garland is a laudable nominee .... In addition, the refusal of the Senate to take up the nomination is a clear violation of the Constitution. ... The ongoing vacancy on the Supreme Court is causing real harm to the nation.... the Republican leadership in the Senate would be wise to act on Judge Garland’s nomination before the November election."
CommStock Report (Spencer Daily Reporter [IA], 08/18/16)
David Kruse, president of CommStock Investments, Inc.: "I think that Grassley used poor judgement in not holding Supreme Court hearings for Merrick Garland. I think he failed to do his constitutional duty for purely political reasons and it would appear today that decision will bite him, deservedly so. .... Obama fronted what was a "fair" nominee and Iowans are supposed to go with what is fair instead of what is grossly partisan. Grassley used to be fair and he has changed."
Why the GOP Should #GoWithGarland, Take 2 (Huffington Post, 08/17/16)
Jason P. Steed: "In essence, the GOP plan appears to be: (1) stall on Garland, hope to keep the senate, then hope to end up with...well, Garland; but also (2) stall on Garland, risk losing the senate, and risk ending up with someone much more liberal than Garland."
Our View: Beware of congressmen in pro-wolf clothing (Arizona Republic, 08/17/16)
Editorial board: "Beware of politicians in wolves’ clothing.
Two congressional efforts to seize control of the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program may pretend to be wolf-friendly. They aren’t.
The first is being pushed by Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar and New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce. Both previously have sought to kick the Mexican gray wolf off the endangered-species list.
Now, they are behind an amendment to the Interior Department appropriations bill that would defund the federal wolf-recovery effort. Pearce says states could do a better job.... The species is 97 times better off. And that’s because of a federally run effort that is guided by the federal Endangered Species Act, which established species diversity as a national value.... Ranchers and hunters have legitimate concerns, but those concerns do not outweigh the larger national goals outlined in the Endangered Species Act.... Yet, in the U.S. Senate, Arizona’s Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain are pushing an effort that would give states greater influence in decision making about wolf recovery and cap the number of wolves allowed in the wild.
This, too, is more about empowering those who oppose wolves than helping recovery.
Flake told The Republic’s Loomis that the goal of recovery should be a plan that reflects the will of the states, and cannot be reversed by a federal judge.
This is a step backward.... Only after environmentalists won a court settlement did wolf numbers begin to climb, reaching 110 by 2014.... Clearly, wolves need more protection, not less. They need federal protection that is guided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reflect the national values outlined in the Endangered Species Act."
Time to play hardball with Senate on Supreme Court nominee (Detroit Free Press [MI] , 08/17/16)
Aaron Kall: "If Obama were to expend some of his remaining political capital by demanding the start of Garland hearings by Sept. 6, Grassley would be forced into a tight political corner. ... In late June, the American Bar Association completed its months-long review of Garland’s professional qualifications and deemed him as “Well Qualified”, which is their highest possible rating. In addition to the ABA, a bipartisan coalition of politicians and legal aficionados have vouched for the qualifications and record of Garland."
Senate continues to disrespect Constitution, Obama and Supreme Court by not voting on Garland (The Hill, 08/15/16)
Richard A. Arenberg: "When the Senate returns from its August recess on Sept. 6, the nomination will have already waited 174 days for a vote.
This prolonged failure by the Senate to do its duty has no precedent in all of U.S. history. Every other nomination not withdrawn by a president has received a vote. The longest previous wait was 125 days for Louis Brandeis"
This Is What An Actual Functioning Democracy Looks Like: Canada is adorable! (Think Progress, 08/15/16)
Ian Millhiser: "Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin complained in a speech to the Canadian Bar Association that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t filled a vacancy on the nation’s supreme court that does not open up until next month. ... President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court of the United States in mid-March. Indeed, Tuesday marks the five month anniversary of this nomination .... Senate Republican leaders refuse to even hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination, much less an actual vote. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) even suggested that he will not allow any new justice to be confirmed if the nominee is opposed by the National Rifle Association."
In defense of inaction [EDITORIAL] (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 08/14/16)
"Republican Senator Chuck Grassley used his radio address Saturday to try to convince Iowans he’s getting the job done for us. ...Missing from his address was any reference to that nagging issue of his obstruction to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court, the eminently qualified Merrick Garland.... Despite the fact that it’s the president’s job to nominate replacements to the court — his term doesn’t end until next January — Grassley declared days after Antonin Scalia’s death in February that on this, the president’s term in office already had ended. ...A lot of Iowans take issue with his obstruction and want him to do his job.
And he said the Republican-led senate “hasn’t wasted time or resources” on partisan fights. But, common sense Iowans are smarter than that. Of course they’ve wasted our resources on partisan fights, especially when it comes to the vacancy on the court. ... he does get a thorn for his dereliction of duty on the Garland matter. Filling a vacancy on the court should be the committee chairman’s highest priority. It should take precedence over sentencing reform.
But, despite his claims to the contrary, he is playing partisan politics so, no, he’s not getting the job done for Iowans, or the nation on the matter that should be the top of his agenda. It’s not action, it’s inaction.
A 9-member court is essential for the nation. That’s just common sense."
Another Voice: Taking the judicial system for granted is folly (Buffalo News [NY], 08/14/16)
Vanessa Glushefski: "at the top of my list is the Supreme Court vacancy, as well as the hundred or so other federal district court vacancies plaguing our nation.
The United States Senate has a job to do. Actually, it has two. The Constitution requires that the Senate give its advice and consent as to federal judicial nominations. By failing to do either, the Senate, in essence, is infringing on the president’s Article II power to nominate candidates and, more importantly, the Judiciary’s Article III power to adjudicate cases and controversies.
Frankly, that is unacceptable. ... Without an adequately staffed judiciary, the balance contemplated in our Constitution comes under attack"
Letter: Disappointed in McConnell (Deseret News [UT] , 08/13/16)
Kent Fetzer: "I am deeply disappointed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s stonewalling of President Obama’s Supreme Court justice nomination. His adamant opposition to giving the man his due borders on incivility. This belligerent stubbornness typifies the obstructionist tactics of our intransigent Congress. Nor am I persuaded by the feckless arguments adduced in defense of his position. From all accounts, Merrick Garland is a fair and prudent jurist — just what is needed in a Supreme Court justice.... The American people have spoken, the president has nominated, and now it’s the Senate who needs to fulfill its constitutional duty by holding timely confirmation hearings and appropriately rendering a vote."
Letter: Garland would be safe choice for Supreme Court (Arizona Daily Star, 08/13/16)
Tim Ingraham: "As an attorney I have concerns with the Senate's failure to confirm Judge Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court Justice. I have shared my concerns with Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.
As a registered Republican since the early '70s, I wrote to encourage them to allow a confirmation vote for the appointment of Judge Garland.... The views of a Supreme Court Justice should be within the mainstream of political thought and Judge Garland is such a candidate. Unless his appointment is confirmed before the election, there is a real possibility someone with less centrist views could be appointed .... there is no downside to allowing a vote and a significant risk if that does not occur."
Letter: Senate should consider nomination of Garland (Buffalo News [NY], 08/13/16)
Sandra W. Myers: "The U.S. Senate will convene after its summer vacation on Sept. 6. It’s time for them to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.... A number of cases were left unsettled in the last session of the Supreme Court because of the tie vote. The Supreme Court convenes in October. It should have the full complement of judges (nine) so that issues argued in the coming session can be decided and resolved."
Republicans all about politics (Ironton Tribune [OH], 08/12/16)
Guest columnist Jim Crawford: "Republican’ refusal to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland is a poster for the failure to govern.
Garland is now the longest waiting nominee before the Senate without consideration, and he may yet represent the first nominee wherein the senate refused to honor its constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent. But the failure of the Republican senate here, while entirely political and completely disregarding to the
constitution, is far more foolish for its practical absurdity on the refusal to hold hearings on Judge Garland."
COMMENTARY: A former Minnesota high court justice steps into politics, on purpose Why? Because the Merrick Garland nomination is still in limbo. (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 08/12/16)
Lori Sturdevant, an editorial writer and columnist: " former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul Anderson ... plea to Grassley’s political opponents to keep pressing the senior senator to take up President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not after the election. Now.... If Grassley and his Republican-majority cohorts continue to stonewall — even if only until after the Nov. 8 presidential election — they will do lasting damage, Anderson says.
Their delay is “at best a dereliction of their sworn duty to support the Constitution and to make government work for the benefit of the people,” he said in Iowa. “At worst, it is unpatriotic.”
Anderson, a Republican before Gov. Arne Carlson made him a judge ... “The Senate is basically trying to rewrite the Constitution by inaction. They want to abbreviate the president’s term by nearly a full year,” he said. ... A national poll last month released by Hart Research Associates found that 50 percent of U.S. voters say the court is a “very important” consideration in their vote for president. That’s up 20 percentage points since 2012, and it’s a concern shared evenly by Democrats and Republicans.
Those poll results suggest Americans increasingly expect high-court appointees to be partisans — and “that’s a distortion of our system,” Anderson says."
Bill Straub: McConnell doesn’t even have the good sense to be embarrassed by his uncouth behavior (KyForward [Lexington, KY], 08/11/16)
"Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has finally cited an accomplishment that just makes him bust his buttons. ... the Louisville Republican made it clear to those assembled that one of his “proudest moments’’ came earlier this year “when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.'”
Is it any wonder that a great and glorious man like Mitch McConnell should take pride in refusing to fulfill his rather obvious obligations to the republic, rudely failing to even consider or meet with a fully competent and well-qualified nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, the chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and act like an ass about the whole thing because the selection was made by a president who has outmaneuvered the great McConnell and made him look like a patsy at nearly every turn? ... Think about it a moment – one of McConnell’s self-described “proudest moments’’ as a legislator comes from him acting in an uncouth, unprofessional manner regarding a nominee for the nation’s highest court. He doesn’t even have to good sense to be embarrassed."
Voters, legal experts agree: Tillis and Burr are simply wrong on Supreme Court blockade (Progressive Pulse [NC], 08/11/16)
Rob Schofield: "Not that it’s much of a surprise — polls have been consistent on this matter for months — but yet another one came out yesterday that shows overwhelming opposition amongst North Carolina voters to the U.S. Senate blockade (championed by Senators Tillis and Burr) of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. ... The new poll numbers come on top of countless editorials and op-eds from lawyers, law professors and historians highlighting the illogical and indefensible stances taken by Burr and Tillis ( a Judiciary Committee member) in refusing to give Garland a hearing."
The purpose of odd numbers and the obligation to appoint judges (Jewish Journal [CA], 08/10/16)
Laura W. Brill: "Since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February, of course, we have had an even number of Supreme Court justices, leaving the potential for ties .... President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy. No one disputes that he is exceptionally well qualified.... Deuteronomy 16:18, ... commandment ... “You shall appoint for you judges and officers in all your gates...”
The obligation to appoint judges doesn’t appear to be optional. We “shall appoint judges.” There is no exception when a president is in his last year of office .... The Talmud’s teaching on courts (Sanhedrins) provides for different courts with different roles, but they all had an odd number of judges .... the precedent set by the Senate’s refusal to move forward with the confirmation of Merrick Garland has set a precedent for dysfunction....we can point to Deuteronomy, as well as the Constitution, in pronouncing the Republican Senate out of order."