Editorials and Opinion
EDITORIAL: Unions Win, but the Court Is Still Hobbled (New York Times, 03/30/16)
"Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has said his party’s attitude is “about a principle, not a person.” Yet at the same time he has rejected Mr. Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit, on the grounds that he is opposed by the National Rifle Association. The Washington Post reported on Monday that a longtime lawyer for the N.R.A., Charles Cooper, is a great admirer of Judge Garland, who he once said would be “among President Clinton’s very best judicial appointments.” It’s no surprise that other Republicans are also struggling to defend their do-nothing stance, and bungling their messages in the process. ...Every day that Senate Republicans refuse to give Judge Garland the consideration he is due, they are embarrassing themselves and ignoring the voices of the people."
A Supreme Breakdown: The Supreme Court's 4-4 rulings are leaving a legal muddle that only the Senate can fix. (U.S. News & World Report, 03/30/16)
Alicia Bannon: "As the Senate showdown continues over Merrick Garland's nomination, these split rulings show how a vacancy can prevent the court from doing its job. They highlight why Senate Republicans should give fair consideration to President Barack Obama's nominee, as the Senate has consistently done throughout history – even in election years.... If the Senate continues to stall Garland's nomination, more and more cases could be left undecided, creating confusing and conflicting legal standards nationwide.... It's time for the Senate to do its job, so the Supreme Court can do its job and interpret the laws of the United States."
EDITORIAL: Burr, Tillis snub nominee and law (News & Observer [NC], 03/30/16)
"Now it is simply embarrassing. Are North Carolina’s Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis so fearful — and so rude — that they are afraid to be in the same room with Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland? No, they’re just going along with the GOP leadership in saying they don’t want Garland to have a hearing and a vote on his nomination.
It’s not unanimous among Republicans.... Garland is one of the most respected judges in the country, and as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia already has passed muster with the Senate, with the support of Republicans.... Other senators should have risen in defense of the constitutional process and of the president’s right to nominate someone and the Senate’s duty to give the person a hearing. But no, Burr and Tillis are meekly going along with it."
FEATURED EDITORIAL: Judge the person (Toledo Blade [OH], 03/30/16)
"Judge Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, is a Supreme Court nominee almost too good to be true.... The President still has almost 9 months to serve and this nominee is the epitome of prudence, balance, and qualification.
And that should be the point: the qualifications of the particular nominee.... Judge Garland is highly and uniquely qualified for the Supreme Court. Republican senators such as Rob Portman, who generally try to uphold comity, should do the self-evidently right thing and give him a hearing.
This is America. Judge the person."
EDITORIAL: Gardner weighs in (Daily Sentinel [CO], 03/30/16)
"“To me it says Washington continues to face challenges it hasn’t addressed,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, told the Sentinel’s editorial board Tuesday.
One of those challenges is coming to some accord on filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Despite national polls indicating that even a majority of Republican voters say the Senate should hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, Gardner remains steadfast in his belief that confirmation should wait until after the election.... We disagree with Gardner’s stance on the Senate’s refusal to hold hearings. It’s an abuse of process established in the Constitution and leaves a deadlocked court in place for far too long."
Guest column: An impasse in liberty and justice for all (Missoulian [MT], 03/30/16)
James C. Nelson, retired Montana Supreme Court justice: "The partisan cancer affecting the other two branches has now metastasized to the Supreme Court. Like a tumor invading an otherwise healthy organ, the Senate majority party’s decision to withhold consideration of President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, threatens to severely cripple the operations of the Supreme Court.... litigants have real legal problems. And, they have a fundamental right to have their cases decided by a fair, independent and impartial court with all nine sitting justices.... President Obama’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court, Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland, of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is well credentialed and eminently qualified to serve as a justice. He is a centrist, and is well respected by members of both political parties and by the bench and bar.
Judge Garland deserves a prompt Senate hearing and vote. The Senate has no right to create an impasse in liberty and justice for all."
EDITORIAL: Test for Toomey: Do your job ... (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 03/30/16)
"Despite the fact that Judge Garland is a former prosecutor who has been tough on criminal justice and earned the past praise of Republicans, Mr. Toomey and his GOP colleagues are pursuing a brazenly political gambit. Instead of doing their duty by holding a hearing and voting Judge Garland up or down, they are blocking his appointment .... Mr. Toomey, your meet-and-greet with Judge Garland isn’t enough. Pennsylvanians want you to consider him on the merits, then vote. In other words, do your job"
Legislators voice support for Hughes (Times Leader [Princeton, KY], 03/30/16)
Letter to the editor Rep. Jeff Donohue, Chair Rep. Tom Burch Rep. Larry Clark Rep. Dennis Horlander Rep. Joni Jenkins Rep. Mary Lou Marzian Rep. Reginald Meeks Rep. Charlie Miller Rep. Darryl Owens Rep. Steve Riggs Rep. Tom Riner Rep. Jim Wayne re. Lisabeth Hughes Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals nomination
Sen. Patrick Leahy: U.S. Senate needs to act on high court nomination (Oklahoman, 03/30/16)
"In these highly charged moments, we must temper our partisan impulses and listen to each other, looking for a way to keep doing the work of the people.
That is exactly the path the president has chosen in nominating Judge Garland to the Supreme Court.... In 2010, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Judge Garland would be “a consensus nominee” and there was “no question” he could be confirmed for the Supreme Court.
Every time a president has made a Supreme Court nomination, the Senate has given the nominee full and fair process. And here, President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty to nominate by actively consulting with the Senate. He listened to Senate Republicans, and he selected an individual repeatedly described as a consensus nominee. So it is not surprising that more and more Republican senators are now expressing their willingness to meet with Judge Garland as a first step.
The American public overwhelming supports an open and public confirmation process."
EDITORIAL: An empty seat on the Supreme Court leaves law unsettled (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 03/29/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court is entering no-man’s land, a place where key legal issues aren’t resolved and political paralysis reigns. The high court found itself tied 4 to 4 .... President Obama’s pick for the high court, Merrick Garland ... remains stalled by obdurate Republican senators who want to wait until after the November election, hoping to give a GOP president a chance to make the pick. That strategy denies Obama his right to make a choice, one of his duties of office.... Unless the Senate’s Republican leadership relents, this might be just the first in a series of deadlocks that effectively prevent the high court from having the final say on significant matters of constitutional law."
Wrong court, Senator Cotton (Arkansas Times, 03/29/16)
Max Brantley: " Sen. Tom Cotton is so consumed with joining the blockade of President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court that he — or his staff — got a little foggy on another piece of judicial obstructionism.
Roll Call reports on a letter to Cotton by Washington lawyer Louis Weiner, who urged Cotton to stop blocking votes on five nominees to vacancies the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Cotton has been holding up those slots for more than 20 months now....Cotton has suggested all those claims court judges aren't needed — a point on which there is bipartisan disagreement. Others have suggested politics are at work in behalf of some former colleagues of Cotton."
EDITORIAL: Critics of Moran are off-base, foolish (Hutchinson News [KS], 03/29/16)
"Republican Party criticism of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas for saying that senators need to fulfill a job requirement and have a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee is terribly off-base and myopic.... Moran recognizes that the U.S. Constitution requires the Senate to execute the confirmation process for nominees to the federal judiciary.
No one should fear, however, that Moran will vote to confirm Garland. Last week, Moran issued a statement that indicated he already had prejudged the nominee .... Maybe Moran is just politically astute enough to realize that the Senate refusing even to have a hearing on the nomination is a suicide strategy .... Garland had plenty of Republican support when he was confirmed for his current position as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.... Moran hasn’t gone rogue on his party by any stretch. He’s far more politically savvy than the peanut gallery in Kansas. And he just might actually remember that he did take an oath of office to a constitutional duty as a U.S. senator, an oath that isn’t wise to discard haphazardly."
The GOP's Supreme Court Riddle: Orrin Hatch shows just how nonsensical the opposition to Obama's nominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is. (U.S. News & World Report, 03/29/16)
Robert Schlesinger, managing editor for opinion: "Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch's op-ed in Monday's New York Times contains a nugget that so perfectly encapsulates the intellectual dishonesty and hackishness coming from the right in regard to Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court that it merits special attention.... 'Throughout its history, the Senate has never confirmed a nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that occurred this late in a term-limited president's time in office.' ... He's talking about the six-and-a-half decades since the 22nd Amendment – which limits presidents to two terms – was ratified. ... And since February 1951, how many vacancies have occurred this late in a term-limited president's time in office? None. Zero. Zip. Hatch, in other words, is basing his opposition to even considering Obama's nominee on the fact that the Senate has never before done something it has never had the opportunity to do."
Empty Suits, Empty Seats (Texas Observer, 03/29/16)
Christopher Hooks: "Two vacancies on the 5th Circuit have gone unfilled since 2012 and 2013, and there are nine empty seats on district courts in Texas, some from as long ago as 2011. ... Vacancies in other states, even very conservative ones, are still filled pretty quickly. Louisiana, also part of the 5th Circuit, has two district court vacancies to Texas’ nine, but both seats came open less than a year ago and nominations are pending. Mississippi, also in the 5th, has no vacancies.... With the 5th Circuit, they accelerated a slowly mounting constitutional crisis."
EDITORIAL: Tie Supreme Court vote illustrates Senate GOP’s folly (San Diego Union-Tribune [CA] , 03/29/16)
"The expected 4-4 Supreme Court deadlock in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case is a fresh reminder of the folly of Senate Republicans refusing to take up Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for the high court. We need to have a fully staffed court to resolve important legal questions of the day, not have them trapped in limbo because of a stalemate .... How absurd. But unless the Senate does its job, such absurdities may become common. This is already a national embarrassment."
Today's Editorial: Meet nominee and cast vote (Daily Item [PA], 03/28/16)
"Shame on Sen. Toomey.
The American people have twice entrusted Barack Obama to make this decision. ... At the very least the Senate should bring Garland before the entire body. If the GOP-controlled Senate wants to reject Garland – a tough sell considering he was called a “consensus nominee” by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) after he was overwhelmingly confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals nearly two decades ago – then it can proceed.
Toomey’s belief that waiting for a new president “is the best approach” to overcome what could be a potential shift in the “balance” of the court” isn’t what’s best for the people of America, and his constituents in Pennsylvania.... We hope the meeting leads the senator to a change of heart and a shift toward doing the job Pennsylvania voters sent him to Washington to do."
Through the looking glass with Thom Tillis (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 03/28/16)
Gene Nichol Op-Ed: "the Constitution demands advice and consent without any listed exceptions for election years or right-wing icons.... Tillis argued that declining to hold hearings and vote on a nominee is, after all, an appropriate exercise of “advise and consent.” So, a Senate which flatly refused to even consider any presidential appointments – thus incapacitating the operation of two branches of government – would be carrying out its obligations rather than nullifying them. Refusing to offer advice and consent, in other words, constitutes advice and consent.... our founders thought much about the notion of electing judges, giving the “people their say.” But they rejected it out of hand"
Editorial: Sen. John Cornyn should steer party away from obstructionist path (Dallas Morning News, 03/28/16)
"Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has done the right thing -- and the smart thing, politically -- by bucking the example of his party’s bosses, including our own Sen. John Cornyn. We urge Cornyn, who is this state’s senior senator and a former member of the Texas Supreme Court, to find his own voice and set a new course for his party. ... When voters made the GOP the majority, the Senate’s new leaders immediately pledged to return the senate to “regular order.”... But the party’s recalcitrance on the Supreme Court threatens to obliterate any claim to a return to civility and respect for the institution.
We feel this course risks ruin for the Senate GOP .... Consider the op-ed Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote .... He said Democrats have no right to complain because they opposed past nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. And as senator, Obama had opposed John Roberts and Samuel Alito, too.
What he left out was that each and every one of those nominees had been given a hearing, a debate and a vote. Only Robert Bork, the most extreme nominee put forth by a president in modern era, was denied a seat on the court.
Hatch’s arguments follow on weeks of statements from Cornyn and McConnell about the so-called ‘Biden Rule.’ There is no such thing and never has been."
EDITORIAL: Doing his job (Hays Daily News [KS], 03/28/16)
"When Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said last week: “I would rather have (constituents) complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” we stood ready to applaud him.
After all, there simply aren’t many Republican senators showing interest in providing advice and consent on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. ... ultraconservative groups unabashedly prefer gridlock over governance — and apparently have little respect for the Constitution they say they cherish.
Moran, on the other hand, earned his law degree at the University of Kansas. He also learned common sense growing up in Plainville and residing in Hays for years.
And, as he told the Rotary Club in Cimarron, he wants to do his job.... Before the furor even subsided, however, Moran’s office issued another press release. This one was unequivocal.
“I am opposed to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee and this administration’s attempt to put another liberal judge on the Supreme Court,” the statement reads.
So much for wanting to do his job. Having a hearing is worthless if one’s mind already is made up.... The retraction does, however, close the door on a majority of constituents who simply would like Moran and his colleagues to get on with their constitutional duty to give the president’s nominee a hearing. We were hoping the senator saw us as the ones he worked for"
EDITORIAL: More women, smarter organizations (Lexington Herald-Leader [KY], 03/28/16)
"This matters for a lot of reasons but one of the most compelling is the abundant evidence that things run better when more women are involved.... Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged to block the recent nomination of Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes — twice appointed by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher to judgeships — to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Why? Because President Barack Obama didn’t talk to McConnell first about the nomination.... public leaders should also resolve to raise government’s collective intelligence by recruiting more women."
EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate's judicial stalling harms federal courts; Eighth Circuit nominee is among those in a troubling holding pattern. (Minneapolis Star Tribune [MN], 03/28/16)
"The Senate’s failure to even consider confirming President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is by itself a lapse in constitutional duty and an extreme exercise in partisanship.
But Judge Merrick Garland isn’t the only Obama nominee to the courts who’s getting a cold shoulder. A near-complete shutdown of judicial confirmations seems to be in effect .... In addition to Garland, 41 nominations sent to the Republican-controlled Senate by the Democratic president are in a holding pattern. As of March 25, the judgeships they were nominated to fill had been vacant for an average of 564 days.
Eleven of the 41 have been vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and sent to the Senate floor .... In all of 2015, the Senate acted on just 11 judicial nominees.
One of the nominees waiting for committee action is Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl, a 14-year federal prosecutor from Fargo, N.D. She was tapped by the president in January to fill a seat on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals .... the busy Eighth Circuit’s need for her service is great. What’s more, she represents the chance to bring needed diversity to a court that saw the appointment of only its second woman in history in 2013. ... Making an appellate-court nominee of Puhl’s caliber wait for confirmation until after this fall’s election — or longer — serves no good purpose and risks a number of bad results."
EDITORIAL: Moran’s take: Tea-party faithful overreact to Kansas senator’s thoughts (Garden City Telegram [KS], 03/28/16)
"“I would rather have you (constituents) complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” Moran told listeners. “I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria, but I have my job to do. I think the process ought to go forward.”...overreaction to Moran suggesting that he and fellow senators should do their job was ridiculous, especially as Moran never said he would embrace Obama’s nominee.
That said, our senator hardly deserves applause for wanting to do his job....Garland is far from liberal (some Democrats decried Obama’s choice). Garland also was confirmed for his current federal bench post with high praise from conservative Republicans.
Republicans’ mistake was in declaring its opposition before a nominee even was named.... U.S. senators should, as Moran said, just do their job."
Commentary: Sen. Kirk, here's how you can persuade the GOP to consider Merrick Garland (Chicago Tribune, 03/28/16)
Geoffrey R. Stone, professor of law, University of Chicago: "The supposed justification Mitch McConnell, Charles Grassley and other Republican senators have put forth for refusing to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities has three elements .... Each of these arguments is disingenuous, hypocritical and inconsistent with well-established constitutional traditions.
It is true that vacancies do not often arise in the final year of a president's term. But, as history teaches, when this situation does arise, the president has unhesitatingly put forth a nominee, and the Senate has routinely considered and, when appropriate, confirmed the nominee. ... The president's responsibility and authority continue under the Constitution until his term ends. ... of the 16 Supreme Court justices who have been confirmed since 1968, eight of them substantially altered the ideological balance on the court. What is striking is that every one of those eight justices was nominated by a Republican president and every one of them, predictably, moved the court in a more conservative direction.... In the last half-century, the Senate has confirmed every single nominee who was well-qualified and reasonably moderate."
Editorial: Supreme Court stalemate needs to be broken (Times-News [Burlington, NC], 03/27/16)
"Last month, in remarks delivered before Scalia’s death, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lamented the politicization of the confirmation process....It’s better for the Senate generally to focus on qualifications and accept that every president, by virtue of his election, has the right to try to shape the court. Presidents, meanwhile, should realize that if they put forward nominees who are too far outside the mainstream, the Senate will put up a fight.
Based on his comments last month, it would seem that the chief justice agrees. He would be doing his court and the Constitution a favor by explicitly calling on the Senate to do its job and give Garland a fair hearing."
Editorial: Let's hear from Justice Roberts (Milford Daily News [MA], 03/26/16)
"The excuses Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are making for their refusal to let the Senate perform its constitutional responsibility range from tenuous to absurd. “The people” should determine the next justice in the November election, say these self-described strict constructionists, ignoring the logic of the Constitution. If the Founders had wanted the people to choose federal judges, they wouldn’t have given them lifetime appointments.... Bork was given a hearing and a vote in the Senate (he was rejected by a bipartisan, 58-42 vote), a courtesy McConnell refuses to grant President Obama’s nominee.... Chief Justice Roberts surely understands the flaws in McConnell’s argument,... He should say it again in Washington, and demand the confirmation of Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee, proceed in the dignified manner precedent and the Constitution prescribe."