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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Editorials and Opinion


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EDITORIAL: Our view: Carbon debate is ready to heat up (Roanoke Times [VA], 06/01/14)
"Rather than shoring up the wall of resistance, political and industrial leaders should be actively engaged in finding ways to keep the economy running and the lights on while reducing greenhouse gases. Congressional inaction has left it to the Environmental Protection Agency to act."

EDITORIAL: Climate inaction (Free Lance-Star [VA] , 06/01/14)
"Without a doubt, the sooner such deniers either change their minds or get out of the way, the sooner unified, meaningful action can be taken. Well-known columnists and commentators George Will and Charles Krauthammer continue to deny the role of climate change in the increasing severity of winter and summer storms, droughts and floods, temperature extremes and wildfires—despite hard, incontrovertible data to the contrary. They cite old research and take the statements of scientists and climate change advocates out of context— deepening the well of disinformation and contributing to conservative intransigence on the issue. Time is of the essence here, and they are helping to waste it.... In areas of key state and national economic and strategic impor tance, such as southeastern Virginia, more jobs are created and preserved once it’s determined which areas are practical to protect and which must be abandoned. There is much work to do and we must begin now."

Editorial: Breathe deep (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA] , 06/01/14)
"President Obama will announce carbon emission standards that will mark a historic advance for environmental regulation and air quality. ...Because Pennsylvania is downwind from coal-fired power plants in other states, the new regime will have vast benefits for public health. The state government should embrace the initiative and develop an innovative plan for compliance, using a commitment to leave behind its history of industrial pollution."

First female American Indian federal judge quietly confirmed (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 06/01/14)
Elaine Ayala column: "it's important to celebrate the great news in the U.S. Senate's confirmation of Diane Humetewa to the federal bench in Arizona. A member of the Hopi Nation, Humetewa, 49, made history May 14 by becoming only the third American Indian federal judge in U.S. history, and the first woman....Observers noted Humetewa will be the only American Indian on a bench that has almost 900 federal judges. The National Congress of American Indians praised Obama and the Senate but noted many other “qualified, talented people like Diane Humetewa in Indian country ... able and willing to serve.”"

Christie boxes himself into a corner on climate pact: Editorial (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 06/01/14)
"So you’d think that Christie would reconsider his decision to pull us out of the popular Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as “RGGI.” But no. The governor casually dismissed the role of climate change in Sandy and continues to insist that this respected, greatly improved multi­state program doesn’t work — despite all evidence to the contrary.... appellate judges recently ruled that the Christie administration had acted illegally, and ordered it to allow public comment, and — even more important — to formally repeal the state’s rules if it doesn’t want to obey them."

Chris Rickert: Walker right to risk principle purity in exchange for John Doe compromise (Wisconsin State Journal, 05/31/14)
Column: "Meanwhile, a purist interpretation of states’ rights has of late been responsible for a spate of embarrassing right-wing positions. The resurgence of the court-invalidated theory of nullification — basically, the belief that states have the legal right to ignore federal law — is one. Another is this idea — recently on display at the state Republican convention — that the 10th Amendment to the Constitution allows states to secede from the union."

EDITORIAL: Batten down the hatches - Obama's new war starts Monday; Our View: A new EPA rule is expected change the energy game. What that means for Arizona (Arizona Republic, 05/31/14)
"In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the EPA wide latitude at regulating carbon-dioxide emissions. Monday's decision is expected to embody the president's most muscular embrace of that power.... With recent court decisions largely on the EPA's side, Monday's announcement very well may evolve into the anchor of Obama's legacy."

EDITORIAL: Carbon dioxide; New limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants take a broad approach (Durango Herald [CO], 05/29/14)
"The EPA is within its authority to regulate greenhouse gases: A 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling clarified that. Nevertheless, it is a sure bet that the agency’s new rule will face legal challenges from those whose interests are threatened by it. That should not deter the EPA from doing what is right. The rule, which is expected to be announced Monday, is a significant move in that direction."

Louisiana House should kill bill intended to nullify levee lawsuit against oil, gas: Editorial (Times-Picayune [LA] , 05/28/14)
"What the legislation does is severely limit which agencies can file suit and for what sort of damages....and would leave residents in greater New Orleans with no practical remedy for the increased risk of storm damage caused by coastal erosion....SB 469 would take away the rights of other local government entities to pursue "any right or cause of action arising from any activity" involving permitting under the Coastal Zone Management program and some provisions of the federal Clean Water Act and the federal Rivers and Harbors Act. ... Those residents and the levees and pumps built to protect them are threatened by the wetlands loss created by oil and gas pipelines. Why shouldn't the industry be asked to pay part of the cost to repair it?"

EDITORIAL: In Our View: A Coal-Free Washington? Changes are coming to the way electricity is produced, and state is preparing itself (Columbian [WA], 05/28/14)
"Coal is messy to extract in a process that leaves scars upon the landscape, and the burning of it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.... whether or not the burning of coal contributes to climate change — a vast majority of scientific research says that it does — the fact is that Washington would be wise to position itself for the future. ...The Clean Air Act of 1970, signed into law by Richard Nixon, requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate pollution that threatens public health and welfare."

Editorial | Well-deserved honor for ‘Fitz’ (Courier-Journal [KY] , 05/26/14)
"Consider the Cincinnati-based federal agency with a clunky name, ORSANCO, and a big mission to keep cleaning up the Ohio River.... President Barack Obama has just appointed Tom FitzGerald.... Mr. FitzGerald, a Louisville attorney and director of the Kentucky Resources Council, has made a career out of representing people on the receiving end of pollution. He has fought fearlessly for enforcement of clean air and clean water laws, using a science-based and fact-based approach that has earned him respect from all sides. He sweats the details, poring over the arcane language of environmental laws and rules, with an eye toward justice, fairness and a cleaner world. And he can’t be fooled. Most recently, Mr. FitzGerald won an important court case that preemptively blocked the developers of the private, natural gas liquids Bluegrass Pipeline from using the power of eminent domain to buy easements in Kentucky. President Obama’s appointment of Mr. Fitzgerald is well-deserved national recognition. We are glad he accepted."

Editorial: Phasing out coal for energy is right — and smart (News Tribune [WA] , 05/23/14)
"Among sources of energy, “coal” is the four-letter word. It’s often dangerous to extract from the ground. Its shipment on coal trains clogs traffic in urban areas. And when it’s burned to produce electricity, either here or when shipped abroad, it adds to the greenhouse gases that scientists say contribute to global warming.... taking steps toward a coal-free future is a wise path for Washington."

EDITORIAL: A salute to our graduates and Memorial Day (Powell Tribune [WY], 05/22/14)
"Thumbs up to Diane Humetewa, who was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Humetewa, a member of the Hopi tribe, is the first Native American judge elevated to the federal bench. She is a former U.S. attorney in Arizona and is considered an expert on Native American legal issues. It’s fitting that Humetewa received her law degree in 1993 from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. O’Connor was the first woman named to the U.S. Supreme Court and even now, during her very active “retirement” from the high court, she inspires other women to follow in her footsteps."

Six Months Later, Filibuster Reform Means Republicans Delay Nominees They Confirm Anyway (Huffington Post, 05/21/14)
Jennifer Bendery: "So what's happened since then? Two things: The president's nominees have largely been confirmed, and Republicans wasted hours of Senate floor time delaying those nominees before voting to confirm them anyway. At least 126 hours, to be exact.... Republicans have voted to block 30 of President Barack Obama's nominees whom they ultimately ended up voting for. Thirteen of those nominees were even confirmed unanimously."

Editorial: Climate change is church's No. 1 pro-life issue (National Catholic Reporter, 05/20/14)
"The Catholic church should become a major player in educating the public to the scientific data and in motivating people to act for stands uniquely in a position to not only aid the science but also to engage in the ethical discussions essential to any consideration of global warming....Its solution lies as much in people of faith as in scientific data, as much or more in a love for God's creation as it does in our instinct for self-preservation."

Editorial: The Native American story you don't know (but should) (Arizona Republic, 05/20/14)
"Diane Humetewa just became the first Native American woman confirmed to sit on the federal court bench, and she'll do it in Arizona. ... While representation of Native American women in the professions is far lower than it should be, Humetewa is evidence that the highest success is within reach....Humetewa will be the only active Native American judge on the bench ... Her judicial skills are critically needed to help lower the federal judicial workload in Arizona. Our state includes great swaths of federal land and an international border that keep our federal courts among the busiest in the nation. Also confirmed as federal court judges last week were Steven Paul Logan, Rosemary Marquez, John Joseph Tuchi, Douglas L. Rayes and James Alan Soto. These judges will help assure justice is not delayed in Arizona, which earned "judicial emergency" status in 2011 because of crushing workloads due to a shortage of judges. What's more, our state has 21 tribal reservations, and all felony offenses committed there are tried in federal court, according to former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton. Humetewa will make the bench a little more reflective of the community it serves....We are proud of what this daughter of Arizona has accomplished."

Confirmation of Diane Humetewa and Hope for a New Era of Diversity in the Federal Courts (American Constitution Society Blog, 05/19/14)
Mary Smith, enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, President of the National Native American Bar Association: "On May 14, 2014, history was made with the confirmation of Diane Humetewa to be a district court judge in the United States District Court for the District Court of Arizona. Ms. Humetewa, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe, is the first Native American woman in the history of our nation to serve on the federal judiciary, and will be the only American Indian serving as an Article III judge in the federal judiciary.... it is long overdue to have American Indian representation in the U.S. district courts as an Article III judge. This lack of diversity on the federal judiciary is felt profoundly throughout the Native American legal community and throughout Indian Country.... There are currently many Native American lawyers who are qualified and seeking nomination to serve in the federal judiciary. Hopefully, Ms. Humetewa’s confirmation will be the first of many to come, including on the federal appellate courts. Ms. Humetewa’s service will bring much-needed expertise on federal Indian law and tribal sovereignty to the federal courts."

Editorial: Global climate change is local, too (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 05/19/14)
"While it is a global phenomenon, people, and the animals and plants around them, will experience climate change locally, as well. Indeed, they are experiencing it now."

Editorial: More Specious Attacks on Reform (New York Times, 05/19/14)
"Conservative critics of President Obama’s health care reforms are engaged in two long-shot lawsuits to overturn the Affordable Care Act or disable one of its central provisions. Both lawsuits should be recognized for what they really are — attempts to use the courts to scuttle a law that Congressional Republicans have repeatedly tried, but failed, to repeal through the political process. One case, now before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, makes the specious argument that the entire law should be overturned because the bill did not “originate” in the House."

Please, Liberals: Don't Fall for Rand Paul's Latest Filibuster; David Barron would be a fantastic federal judge (New Republic Online, 05/19/14)
Sam Kleiner: "Paul has decided to go after Barron, a law professor at Harvard, who has been nominated for the First Circuit Court of Appeals ...he directed the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. Contrary to what Paul has said, that office is not in charge of making any kind of policy. The only thing the office does is respond to requests from members of the executive for opinions on whether certain actions would be constitutional.... Even critics of the drone program and the secrecy surrounding it have supported Barron’s nomination. Professor David Cole of Georgetown University, one of the most fervent critics of the administration on civil liberties grounds, has said that Barron is “a highly qualified lawyer who I know personally to be thoughtful, considerate, open-minded, and brilliant. His confirmation would put in place a judge who will be absolutely vigilant in his protection of civil liberties and his insistence that executive power be constrained by the rule of law.” I am amongst those who has criticized the administration’s secrecy on the drone program but I understand that we should not try to hold Barron’s nomination hostage over the administration’s decision on whether to release this memorandum, a decision that he has no control over. Paul’s filibuster is the latest in a series of Republican attempts to misconstrue the work of a lawyer to keep them off the bench."

Editorial: Senate Democrats should quit stalling on two judicial nominations (Washington Post, 05/17/14)
David "Barron, whom the president picked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, seems to be in less trouble, but his nomination has still been hobbled by concerns over memos he wrote at the Justice Department defending Mr. Obama’s policy on targeted drone killings. By various accounts, they are not nearly as controversial as, say, the Bush-era “torture memos” were. Nevertheless, activists and senators from both sides have been squabbling about getting full access to the classified documents as they consider Mr. Barron’s nomination, which has been associated with the broader political battle about U.S. drone policy. That conflation is not fair. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has set a vote on Mr. Barron in the coming days. Senators should confirm him."

Editorial: Thanks for saving forests, wildlife; mountain trail helps fight climate change (Lexington Herald-Leader [KY] , 05/16/14)
"As we contemplate the expected slow slipping away of Antarctica's ice, Kentuckians can take some solace in the slow steady amassing of forest in a 120-mile Pine Mountain Wildlife Corridor....Recent scientific studies have more deeply documented the effects of climate change caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including what scientists say is the now unavoidable melting over the next century of an ice shelf in western Antarctica and resulting rise in sea levels. Preserving forests provides a bastion against climate change and leaves a legacy for which future generations will be even more grateful."

Ronnie White gets a rare second chance (Kansas City Star, 05/16/14)
Steve Kraske: "Someone ought to write a folk song about Ronnie White. This is a man who reached the height of his profession, got kicked to the curb, then rose again. On Tuesday, a U.S. Senate committee will consider White’s nomination a second time for a lifetime appointment as a Missouri federal judge. ... The Senate rejected White on a party-line vote after Ashcroft opposed him, saying White was pro-criminal and weak on death penalty cases.... White went on to become the first black chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, which happens to be housed in a building where slaves were once sold on the steps.... Historians said it was unprecedented for a president to renominate someone the Senate had once rejected. Look at it this way: Obama is righting a wrong."

Editorial: Climate change demands response and adaptation (Knoxville News Sentinel [TN] , 05/15/14)
"Tennessee and the rest of the Southeast will see erratic weather patterns and numerous environmental changes in the coming decades, according to a recently released federal report on climate change."

Rubio's climate-change doubts ignore science: Editorial (Orlando Sentinel [FL] , 05/15/14)
"[T]he freshman Republican senator from Florida discountedthe views of the vast majority of the world's climate scientists, who say human activity is contributing to climate change and rising sea levels.... Leaders face problems. They don't duck them."

Editorial: Rubio wrong on climate change denial (Palm Beach Post [FL], 05/15/14)

Editorial Don't hold David Barron's judicial nomination hostage (Los Angeles Times, 05/14/14)
"[C]oncerns are threatening to derail the appointment of David J. Barron, President Obama's choice to serve as a judge on the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ...If senators want to read Barron's actual legal analysis, the administration has said they may peruse his writings privately before voting on the nomination. Instead of blocking Barron's nomination, they should take the administration up on its offer and move to a vote."

Editorial: NC needs a stronger response to climate change (News & Observer [NC], 05/14/14)
"The message behind that evidence is clear: Reduce the release of gases that are warming the earth and get ready to cope with the effects of climate change that are already in motion and inevitable. ... Despite the emerging threats, North Carolina’s leaders from the governor through the General Assembly down to many coastal communities are not sufficiently focused on preparing for climate change."

David Barron should be confirmed to US Court of Appeals (Boston Globe, 05/13/14)
Charles Fried and Laurence H. Tribe: "ALTHOUGH THE two of us frequently approach legal questions from different perspectives, and just as often disagree about the best answers to those questions, we share a respect for our Constitution and a reverence for the judicial process. That’s why, in spite of our disagreements, we agree that Harvard Law School professor David Barron is exceptionally well-qualified to hold a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and that the Senate should promptly confirm him."

David Barron, Targeted Killing, and Rand Paul’s Wrongheaded Oped (Lawfare, 05/12/14)
Benjamin Wittes: Sen. "Paul’s oped at several points, including his opening sentence, conflates the asserted need to see the memos with both the substance of the issues in question and with Barron’s fitness to be a judge. It’s worth keeping these separate.... The problem, rather, is the combination of the imputation of presidential policy to Justice Department lawyers asked to evaluate legal questions and the willful misrepresentation of the legal views those lawyers generate to make what is actually cautious and restrained seem lawless and enabling of unbridled presidential power."