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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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Richard L. Mattingly letter: Debating Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch (Denver Post [CO] , 02/02/17)
"Democrats should corner Judge Neil Gorsuch on his siding with Hobby Lobby’s right to proselytize its employees as a condition of their having health insurance. His record as a jurist has its high points, but his stand on civil rights is poor, as he often complained that rights were being expanded, not contracted, by the courts that conservatives wanted."

Jimmy Margulies editorial cartoon "They told me the seat was vacant"

Letter: Republicans should be ashamed of nomination (INFORUM [ND], 02/01/17)
Terry Graff: The seat vacated by Judge Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016 already had a legitimate nominee. That nominee was named Judge Merrick Garland. ... The nomination of Judge Gorsuch was not Donald Trump's to make. If he is confirmed, he will forever have an asterisk by his name. It will be an asterisk denominating an illegitimate justice. Any judge worthy of sitting on the Supreme Court would have refused the nomination.a

Bagley Cartoon: Captain Orrin Underpants (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 02/01/17)
Pat Bagley editorial cartoon on Sen. Hatch, "No Merrick Garland," and Trump Supreme Court Nominee

Democrats should use the coming court fight to spotlight Trump’s authoritarianism. Here’s how. (Nel's New Day , 02/01/17)
Opinion by Greg Sargent: There are already widespread fears, including among some center-right writers, that the courts might not be up to the task of reining in Trump. Senators might ask Gorsuch for a general statement of principle here .... Trump’s refusal to divest from his business holdings sets up the possibility for unprecedented conflicts of interest. ... Trump’s bullying and hostility toward the media, and his hints at restrictions on them, raise questions about his respect for the First Amendment .... the very fact that so many questions like these need to be posed underscores what a unique and potentially threatening moment we find ourselves in right now.

ROD DRISCOLL Letter to the Editor: Neil Gorsuch and the Battle Ahead for the Supreme Court (New York Times, 02/01/17)
"Your opinion that Democrats should block Judge Neil Gorsuch is well founded. Though he is qualified, his views are far out of the mainstream on corporate, labor, religious and women’s issues. That can be fleshed out by senators before a cloture vote on a filibuster, allowing the public to see how far from the country’s moderate center this nominee is. Democrats shouldn’t fear wearing the collar of obstructionism. It certainly hasn’t hurt Republicans over the last eight years."

Sorry, Neil Gorsuch. The Supreme Court Vacancy Was Already Filled (TIME magazine, 02/01/17)
Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone: Chief Judge Garland should have been confirmed easily....Judge Gorsuch’s nomination should be withdrawn, and the President should nominate in his place a genuinely moderate justice who is acceptable to Democrats and Republicans alike. Only then can we move on with a sense of institutional integrity.

Scalia, the Sequel: An originalist like Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch is guided by 1787 thought processes, which made no provision for a right to privacy, or reproductive choice, or same-sex marriage. (American Prospect, 02/01/17)
ERWIN CHEMERINSKY: it will be necessary to scrutinize every aspect of Gorsuch’s writings and speeches, on and off the bench. Most troubling, are Gorsuch’s statements that he is an “originalist,” which means that he believes that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed at the time that it is enacted and can be changed only through the amendment process.... Robert Bork’s nomination for the Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate in 1987 precisely because of such originalist views. ... I would like to see the Democrats filibuster Gorsuch and all Trump nominees until he picks a moderate.

Budowsky: Dems filibuster for justice (The Hill, 02/01/17)
Opinion by Brent Budowsky: There is already movement among Senate Democrats, which I strongly support, to wage an all-out filibuster against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, to fill the seat I call the Garland seat because it should have been filled by the widely acclaimed Judge Merrick Garland .... For Senate Republicans to refuse to even consider the nomination of Garland was nothing less than a constitutional coup d’etat against justice in America that abused Senate rules to pack the court with conservative justices.

Siers cartoon: Trump Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 02/01/17)
Kevin Siers editorial cartoon

Gorsuch’s Approach to the Law Would Make Him a Dangerous Justice (People For blog, 02/01/17)
Paul Gordon: Judge Gorsuch has broached the possibility of limiting agency authority on a vastly broader scale. Under the Constitution, Congress cannot simply delegate its lawmaking authority to an agency without giving some parameters or guidance on how the agency should make its decisions. But how much authority Congress delegates to agencies is its decision. Only twice has the Supreme Court struck down a congressional delegation of authority, and that was under the anti-New Deal Supreme Court of 1935.... Gorsuch harshly criticized progressives who turn to the courts to vindicate their rights ....

TERRY SHAMES Letter: Neil Gorsuch and the Battle Ahead for the Supreme Court (New York Times, 02/01/17)
"n your editorial, you point out, rightly, that Senate Republicans took the Supreme Court hostage for a year, and that the seat that Judge Neil Gorsuch has been nominated for has been empty for a year because of Republican obstructionism. But then you caution that Democrats “should be wary of stooping to the Republicans’ level.” Why is that? It doesn’t seem to have hurt the Republicans at all in the 2016 election. What possible reason do Democrats have to roll over — except that that’s what they have always done?"

EDITORIAL: Will Sessions enforce Trump’s travel order? Senators must know before they vote. (Bangor Daily News [ME], 02/01/17)
"Rather than speculate about what Sessions would do, the full Senate should not move ahead with his nomination until Sessions answers those questions, not in writing, but in front the Judiciary Committee, where follow-up questions can be asked and answered.... Will Sessions, who helped craft Trump’s immigration policy, enforce, and allow other federal agencies to enforce, the president’s executive order? If his answer is yes, will he direct lawyers within the Justice Department to defend the order in court? Will he order government officials to violate temporary stays of the order that have been issued by federal courts? If the answers to these questions are yes, Sessions is not qualified to be attorney general because his allegiance would be to Trump and not to the Constitution and laws that he would swear to uphold. This is the conclusion Sen. Angus King has reached."

Is Sessions ready to say no to Trump? (Washington Post, 02/01/17)
Opinion by Victoria Bassetti and Caroline Fredrickson: Sessions must provide a more detailed explanation of how he will insulate the department and himself from improper interference, and the White House counsel’s office should make clear its rules for avoiding interference with the administration of justice. This week’s confrontation with Yates shows how high the stakes are.

The SCOTUS hostage situation is over (Washington Post, 02/01/17)
Ann Telnaes editorial cartoon

Why Democrats should hold the line and filibuster against Neil Gorsuch (Guardian News and Media, 01/31/17)
Opinion by Lucia Graves: Scalia’s successor should have rightfully been Obama’s to choose, and Democrats should return the favor by pushing Republicans to the legal limit ... Gorsuch’s record is surely as objectionable to any good Democrat as Scalia’s textualist approach to interpreting the constitution ever was. But in fighting Gorsuch, Democrats have a chance to highlight more than that. They have a chance to shed light on the fact that not only have Republicans successfully used gerrymandering and voter ID laws to skew electoral outcomes in their favor – they’ve also used every partisan trick in the book to get one more of their own in on the court that’s supposed to stand above partisan warfare.... Democrats would be fools to stand down now in hopes that Republicans, admiring their magnanimity and bipartisan spirit would somehow reward them at some unspecified future date. Caving to Trump’s interests without a fight would take a wind out of the sails of the nascent resistance movement rocking our country.

EDITORIAL: Neil Gorsuch, the Nominee for a Stolen Seat (New York Times, 01/31/17)
"It’s been almost a year since Senate Republicans took an empty Supreme Court seat hostage, discarding a constitutional duty that both parties have honored throughout American history and hobbling an entire branch of government for partisan gain. President Trump had a great opportunity to repair some of that damage by nominating a moderate candidate for the vacancy, which was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died last February. Instead, he chose Neil Gorsuch, a very conservative judge from the federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit whose jurisprudence and writing style are often compared to those of Justice Scalia.... The seat Judge Gorsuch hopes to sit in should have been filled, months ago, by Merrick Garland .... He is even more conservative than Justice Scalia in at least one area — calling for an end to the deference courts traditionally show to administrative agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, that are charged with implementing complex and important federal laws. Given the events of recent days, senators should press Judge Gorsuch on how he would approach constitutional questions that have already arisen out of Mr. Trump’s actions as president"

Editorial: Sessions isn't the attorney general we need (Los Angeles Times, 01/31/17)
"[W]e believe the Senate should reject the nomination. ... Civil rights groups are virtually unanimous in opposing Sessions’ confirmation because they fear that he won’t vigorously enforce those laws. We share their concern. ... Our concern is about what he’s done and where he stands on the issues. ... With Donald Trump in the Oval Office, it’s especially important that the attorney general be a figure with a reputation for independence and an unquestioned commitment to the cause of equal justice under law. Sessions falls short of meeting that job description."

[Editorial] Democrats shouldn’t go scorched-earth on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee (Washington Post, 01/31/17)
"We understand that there are many Democrats, still seething over the GOP’s nakedly partisan refusal to grant Mr. Garland so much as a hearing, who regard the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost a year ago as “stolen.”... let the Senate expeditiously but thoroughly probe that nominee on his or her legal qualifications, as well as jurisprudence. And then let the Senate vote"

Editorial When the GOP stole Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court seat, they set the stage for a miserable battle (Los Angeles Times, 01/31/17)
"Trump never should have been handed this opportunity. The seat was Obama’s to fill subject to Senate “advice and consent,” and he fulfilled his constitutional responsibility in good faith, only to be kneecapped by a body that would neither advise nor consent but merely gummed up the machinery in a transparent effort to preserve the court’s conservative majority."... What message do the Democrats send if they allow themselves to accept this theft supinely without exacting any punishment?"

Why Democrats Should Oppose Neil Gorsuch (New York Times, 01/31/17)
OP-ED COLUMNIST David Leonhardt: It’s important to remember just how radical — and, yes, unprecedented — the Senate’s approach to the previous Supreme Court nominee was.... When people hear the name “Neil Gorsuch,” as qualified as he may be, they should associate him with a constitutionally damaging power grab. Second, Democrats should not weigh this nomination the same way that they’ve weighed previous ones. This one is different. The presumption should be that Gorsuch does not deserve confirmation, because the process that led to his nomination was illegitimate.

Predicting How Neil Gorsuch Would Rule on Environmental Issues: If he’s ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate (Legal Planet: The Environmental Law & Policy Blog, 01/31/17)
Prof. Ann Carlson: Given his stated conservative judicial philosophy and his supposed commitment to “textualism,” though, it seems safe to be that he’ll be a reliable conservative vote and a foe of environmental protection most of the time.

Seat Merrick: Trump’s nominee shouldn’t get a hearing until Merrick Garland is seated. (, 01/31/17)
Dawn Johnsen: This seat was not Trump’s to fill. In fact, the U.S. Senate should refuse to confirm anyone President Trump nominates to the Supreme Court—until Trump renominates and the Senate confirms Judge Merrick Garland. On Monday, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said he would be leading a Senate filibuster of any Trump nominee until Garland is seated. This is the only correct approach.... the Senate should keep the current vacancy open until a second seat becomes vacant. It should then confirm Garland, followed by consideration of the Trump choice.

Time for outrageous obstruction against Gorsuch: Jason Sattler (USA Today, 01/31/17)
"Democrats in the chamber have the votes to hold up exactly one major appointment from President Trump without any Republican help. And they should fight Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court with every vote they’ve got ... Democrats need to do everything they can to stop Trump’s agenda, and their best tools for that are the courts — and the Senate, which has tools of obstruction that Democrats have not begun to explore."

Editorial: Gorsuch’s complex record deserves close scrutiny (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 01/31/17)
"Donald Trump’s nominee is, nevertheless, alarming for those who believe women’s rights to health care and other fundamental human rights are under siege by this court. He deserves thorough scrutiny — a duty and courtesy Republicans rejected for Barack Obama’s eminently qualified nominee, Merrick Garland .... The Republicans’ tactic was dead wrong — a break with historic precedent and an abdication of their duty to govern .... often, his rulings are unfriendly to individuals’ ability to right wrongs. Gorsuch is of the Citizens United school, endowing corporations with the rights of individuals in applying standards of religious liberty and free speech (or rather, free political spending)."

Say no to U.S. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions (Commercial Appeal [TN] , 01/29/17)
Bryce W. Ashby: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, has said all of these things and now wants to be our U.S. Attorney General. All of these positions are in direct conflict with the mission of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s objectives, legal precedent and factual evidence. It is because these beliefs and statements cannot be reconciled with the mission of the Department of Justice that the Tennessee Employment Lawyers Association (TENNELA) has sent a letter to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker on behalf of our members opposing Sen. Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General.

Trump’s hard-line actions have an intellectual godfather: Jeff Sessions (Washington Post, 01/29/17)
Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: President Trump’s signature was scribbled onto a catalogue of executive orders over the past 10 days that translated the hard-line promises of his campaign into the policies of his government. The directives bore Trump’s name, but another man’s fingerprints were also on nearly all of them: Jeff Sessions.

Law professor bashes Third Circuit’s Castro decision and calls Hardiman’s vote “close to being disqualifying” (CA3blog, 01/29/17)
"Professor Steve Vladeck posted this today at the Just Security blog, entitled, “The Muslim Ban, Judicial Review, and the Supreme Court.” ... 'one of the judges on the rumored short-list–Judge Thomas Hardiman–was part of the Third Circuit’s ruling in Castro, and, indeed, joined the majority opinion “in full.” (He wrote separately to suggest a different ground on which to deny access to judicial review to the petitioners.) In my view, at least, endorsing such a doctrinally flawed, analytically problematic, and poorly reasoned opinion on such a major constitutional question comes close to being disqualifying in its own right. But at the very least, it should provoke questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee for Judge Hardiman (or any nominee, for that matter) about the proper role of the courts in supervising detention within the United States–and in standing up to Executive Branch actions that, at least based on precedent, certainly seem to be unconstitutional.'"

[Editorial Board] A look back at Jeff Sessions and Alabama's schools (Anniston Star [AL] , 01/29/17)
""How Jeff Sessions helped kill equitable school funding in Alabama" is an awful example of the senator's AG legacy in our state. ... Sessions, Propublica wrote, "hired expensive private lawyers to fight the findings of the court — first at the district level, later at the state Supreme Court level. He succeeded in removing a judge sympathetic to the plight of poor students from the case. He filed appeal after appeal, insisting he be heard even after the state’s highest court issued final decisions. He fought every effort by the court to require that schools in the state’s poorer communities be funded at the same levels as its wealthier ones." ... Sessions' role in this dispiriting case is undeniable. And Alabama's public schools? That inequity still exists."