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AG pick Sessions should moderate his approach to marijuana [Editorial] (Orange County Register [CA] , 11/23/16)
By ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER EDITORIAL BOARD: President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to be attorney general of the United States rightly has proponents of marijuana legalization troubled. Sessions, who at an April congressional hearing remarked that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and joked in the past that he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan were “okay until I found out they smoked pot,” is a hard-line drug warrior at a time when most of the nation has signaled a willingness to permit marijuana use.... Going on his record and past statements, the prospects of a hands-off approach to marijuana under a Sessions-led DOJ seem dim. “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger,” said Sessions at a hearing in April.... Allowing states greater freedom to experiment with differing approaches to complex problems is often desirable, and this is certainly the case with respect to marijuana.

Commentary: Where have all the judges gone? Unfilled seats on the federal benches obstruct justice: Congress needs to stop dawdling and restore a functional judicial branch by approving new judges. (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 11/23/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.... The courts desperately need these openings filled, and most of the nominees are capable and uncontroversial. ... Both parties should work together in these final weeks of 2016 to cut down this backlog of vacancies for the good of the courts, the Senate and the country.

COMMENTARY: The courts: It's not just that Scalia opening at issue: Vacancies on the federal circuit and district courts are inexcusably high.  (Star Tribune [MN] , 11/23/16)
Carl Tobias Los Angeles Times (TNS): With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began in mid-November.

FRIDAY'S LETTERS: END DELAY ON JUDICIAL NOMINEE  (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 11/23/16)
Nominee deserves Senate vote, by Prof. Carl Tobias: In April, President Barack Obama nominated William Jung ... for a federal court judge vacancy in the Middle District of Florida. ... The district has two openings among 15 active judgeships.... These judges manage caseloads that are 50 percent higher than the national average, so the U.S. courts have designated the vacancies as "judicial emergencies." Jung is a well-qualified mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of Florida Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican. However, the nominee has languished since April mainly because Republican leaders did not furnish him a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, a panel vote or a final debate and ballot. Because Jung is an experienced consensus nominee and the Middle District of Florida requires all of its vacancies filled, the Senate must expeditiously provide the nominee's hearing and committee vote and his confirmation debate and ballot.

Fill federal court vacancies now (Record [NJ] , 11/23/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.

Garland should get a vote, or Trump’s court picks should be blocked (Washington Post, 11/23/16)
Gary Rucinski, Letter to the Editor: Democrats could take a principled position on Supreme Court nominations under a President Donald Trump. They should offer that either hearings are held and an up-or-down vote taken on the Garland nomination in the lame-duck session or Democrats will filibuster all future nominees to the court until after the next presidential election. Several Republican senators were threatening to filibuster a President Hillary Clinton’s appointments, so Democrats could use their own words against them to justify their action.

Opinion: Fill vacant federal judgeships (Evansville Courier Press [IN] , 11/22/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.... The courts desperately need these openings filled, and most of the nominees are capable and uncontroversial. ... Both parties should work together in these final weeks of 2016 to cut down this backlog of vacancies for the good of the courts, the Senate and the country.

Editorial: Pop culture should reflect a country, not the other way around. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 11/22/16)
"But far more important is the fact that Trump has nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. The Southern Poverty Law Center has extensively documented Sessions’ ties to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim groups. He has spoken fervently about the need for a religious test for immigrants. He called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive legislation.” Trump regards this man as fit to head the Justice Department. And Sessions is just one of Trump’s spectacularly controversial picks."

If Jeff Sessions Opposed Lurleen Wallace, Who Did He Support? Republicans have said that Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee began his career fighting against a segregationist in Alabama. The truth is more complicated. (Atlantic, 11/22/16)
Adam Serwer: this telling elides an important fact: Jim D. Martin, the Republican candidate running against Wallace, was also a segregationist. It’s unclear whether Sessions’s staff is claiming Sessions worked on Martin’s behalf or campaigned against Wallace in some other capacity––they have declined repeated requests for clarification or comment.

Fill federal courts now (Circleville Herald [OH], 11/22/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.... The courts desperately need these openings filled, and most of the nominees are capable and uncontroversial. ... Both parties should work together in these final weeks of 2016 to cut down this backlog of vacancies for the good of the courts, the Senate and the country.

Confirm Florence Pan for D.C. District Court (Washington Post, 11/22/16)
Carl Tobias: Judge Pan is a highly qualified mainstream nominee who enjoys the strong support of D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. ... She also would be the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve on the D.C. District.... On Sept. 15, the panel reported her on a voice vote .... It is past time for senators to vote on Judge Pan. She is an experienced, moderate nominee. The District needs all of its judges to deliver justice. The District’s judiciary and federal court litigants deserve a full bench, and Pan merits a final vote. Thus, senators must conduct her floor ballot when they reconvene for the lame duck session.

FEATURED EDITORIAL: Wrong choice for AG (Toledo Blade [OH], 11/22/16)
"The attorney general of the United States should be someone above politics. Especially now. Instead, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the first senator to endorse him for president and a key policy adviser and political ally."

Opinion: Fill vacant federal judgeships (Gleaner (Henderson, KY), 11/22/16)
Carl Tobias: With just a modicum of cooperation, Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week.... The courts desperately need these openings filled, and most of the nominees are capable and uncontroversial. ... Both parties should work together in these final weeks of 2016 to cut down this backlog of vacancies for the good of the courts, the Senate and the country.

Editorial: Trump’s new team designed to take the low road (Chicago Sun Times, 11/22/16)
"Then there is Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Putting aside for the moment Sessions’ history of racist remarks, here is a fellow who would throw away the Bill of Rights and impose a religious test — no Muslims — on who could enter the country. He is among the most strident anti-immigration voices in the Senate, opposed to any bill that would allow undocumented immigrants, including those brought here as babies decades ago, even the most limited legal status."

Why I told the Senate that Jeff Sessions thought civil rights groups were ‘un-American’ (Washington Post, 11/22/16)
J. Gerald Hebert: I met him while I was handling a major voting rights case in Mobile, and I relayed a rumor I’d heard: A federal judge there had allegedly referred to a civil rights lawyer as “a traitor to his race” for taking on black clients. Sessions responded, “Well, maybe he is.”... he referred to the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American.” As he saw it, by fighting for racial equality, these groups were “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”

Senators Must Vote ‘No’ To Jeff Sessions As Attorney General: Senators could diligently review the record and vote their conscience. (Huffington Post, 11/22/16)
Christopher Kang: Senate Democrats can not stop this nomination unless Republicans join them, and based on the public statements of support so far, that doesn’t seem likely. Then again, I imagine this was also the analysis in 1986, when a Republican-controlled Senate considered Sessions’ nomination to the district court—before the Senate Judiciary Committee held two sets of hearings. Before Senator Howell Heflin (also of Alabama) withdrew his support, stating “fairness and impartiality go to the very heart of our justice system...as long as I have reasonable doubts, my conscience is not clear, and I must vote no.” Before two Republicans joined every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee in opposing his nomination. Before the Judiciary Committee rejected a lower court nomination for the first time in nearly half a century. What happened in 1986 could happen again today: Senators could diligently review the record and vote their conscience.

The Signal Sent By Picking Jeff Sessions for Attorney General: The United States’s top law-enforcement official possesses sweeping discretionary power—and the Alabama senator’s record suggests how he’ll use it. (Atlantic, 11/21/16)
GARRETT EPPS: Jeff Sessions’s chief distinction to date is his rejection by the Senate Judiciary Committee—run at the time by the Republican majority—as a nominee for the federal district bench. ...what no one denied was his use of the power of the U.S. attorney’s office in Alabama to humiliate and intimidate African American voters.... Sessions went on to become attorney general of Alabama and then U.S. senator. And in those roles, he has fought tooth and nail against advances for racial equality, women’s rights, due process for immigrants, or voting rights.

The for-profit presidency [Editorial] (Baltimore Sun, 11/21/16)
"[T]he jaw-dropping nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as attorney general, the 69-year-old Alabama senator deemed too racist during the Reagan era to be a federal judge. Yes, America, that's the man who could be enforcing voting rights and civil rights for the next four years. (Or not enforcing them, that is.)"

Trump Picks a Climate Skeptic to Enforce Environmental Laws: Trump Picks a Climate Skeptic to Enforce Environmental Laws (Scientific American, 11/21/16)
Camille von Kaenel, ClimateWire: Sen. Jeff Sessions, whom President-elect Donald Trump put forward Friday as his choice for attorney general, has questioned mainstream science on man-made climate change and attacked U.S. EPA for regulatory outreach.

Jeff Sessions’ long perversion of justice: Trump’s pick for Attorney General has waged a 30-year battle against voting rights: In 1986, Sessions was deemed too racist to serve as a federal judge by a GOP-led senate — what will he do as AG? (Salon.com, 11/21/16)
Gary Legum: Sessions has championed voter-ID and other laws designed to subvert minority voting rights while continuing to claim that voter fraud is a major problem nationwide, with no evidence to back him up.

Jeff Sessions: Trump's attorney general pick accused of racial slur in 1981: Sessions offered a false explanation when later questioned by Senators about the alleged incident involving Democratic county commissioner Douglas Wicks (Guardian News and Media, 11/21/16)
Jon Swaine: “My point is there was not a black county commissioner at that time,” Sessions said, in response to questions from Joe Biden, then a senator for Delaware. “The black was only elected later.” But this was not true.

Editorial: ‘Hamilton’ owes no apology to Trump or Pence (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 11/21/16)
"[T]he message, a hope that the new leaders will represent all Americans, was not wrong. Millions share the fear implicit in Dixon’s statement, and with reason. In the past week, Trump appointed Jeff Sessions, a politician once deemed too racist for a judicial appointment, as U.S. attorney general to uphold civil rights laws of the land."

Making a Judge: A vacancy in Idaho more than 50 years ago illustrates how the confirmation process once worked (Blue Review journal [Boise State University School of Public Service, ID], 11/21/16)
Marc C. Johnson: The U.S. Senate may finally consider the president’s nomination of David Nye, an Idaho state district court judge from Pocatello, during the post-presidential election lame duck session of Congress, but even under that best case scenario it will have taken more than two years to fill the Idaho vacancy. Meanwhile, the mounting caseload confronting Idaho’s only other federal judge, B. Lynn Winmill, has prompted the declaration of a “judicial emergency.” This situation represents a dramatic departure from historic norms and it is fair to say nothing like this has happened before in Idaho. In addition to the Idaho vacancy there are nearly 100 other vacancies in the federal judiciary, including a high profile vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate confirmation process has slowed to a crawl

Confirm Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl for the Eighth Circuit (The Hill, 11/21/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: This year, Obama has proffered seven highly qualified, mainstream circuit nominees, but none received a hearing until May 18 and none has realized appointment. ... The Judiciary Committee, which Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley chairs, has fully evaluated Puhl and conducted her hearing on June 21. When introducing Puhl, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) glowingly praised her excellent qualifications and emphasized Puhl’s long record of public service. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) similarly lauded Puhl’s lengthy experience in the U.S. Attorney’s office. ... The panel easily approved Puhl on a voice vote with no dissent.... Because she is an experienced, moderate nominee and the court needs every jurist, the Senate must promptly confirm her.

Op-Ed: Federal courts need 94 judges. The Senate should vote on qualified nominees now (Los Angeles Times, 11/21/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: Republican and Democratic senators could restore some of the judicial resources courts desperately need. There are, most notably, 20 well-qualified, mainstream district court nominees whom the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote without dissent. A majority of them were recommended for the bench by their Republican home-state senators. They should get a final confirmation vote during the lame-duck session that began last week. A failure to consider these nominees during the lame-duck session means that whole process will have to start over — a waste of effort exactly when the new Trump administration needs to fill a Supreme Court vacancy and create a new government.

Jeff Sessions’ Other Civil Rights Problem (New York Times, 11/21/16)
Thomas J. Sugrue, Op-Ed: Sessions was elected Alabama’s attorney general. While he held the position for only two years — using it as a steppingstone for his campaign for the Senate — he left an indelible mark. He used the power of his office to fight to preserve Alabama’s long history of separate and unequal education.

Editorial: Trump's fringe loyalists take over (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 11/21/16)
"Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who will be nominated by Trump to become attorney general, was an early supporter of the campaign and an outspoken advocate of the harshest treatment of undocumented immigrants. He was among those Trump followers who were open to a ban on Muslim immigrants, which surely would be unconstitutional. His hostility toward gay marriage and voting rights is well-documented and prehistoric. Three decades ago, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm Sessions after President Ronald Reagan nominated him to be a federal judge following testimony by former colleagues that he had made racially insensitive comments. Now a man who has derided the Voting Rights Act, continued to support tough prison sentences for minor drug offenses and would not look favorably on the decision by Florida voters to approve medical marijuana is poised to become attorney general? The Senate should be just as skeptical of Sessions and his ability to treat all Americans equally as it was in 1986."

Thomasson: Trump making bad choices (Evansville Courier Press [IN] , 11/21/16)
Dan K. Thomasson opinion column: Then there is Sessions, a Republican who once was rejected by a Republican Senate after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a federal judgeship.... His nomination to be the nation’s top lawyer, while not all that surprising, might face a confirmation challenge given his hard-nose attitude toward immigration and lingering suspicions of him harboring anti-civil rights inclinations.... The fact is, neither he nor Bannon should be anywhere near the new administration.