Editorials and Opinion
Democrats Protested in the Wrong Chamber: The Supreme Court’s deadlock on immigration suggests that the protest should have been in the Senate, not the House. (Atlantic, 06/24/16)
Alex Wagner: "President Obama offered this assessment: “The Court’s inability to reach a decision is a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the court to have a full bench.”
The president was referring, of course, to his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, to fill the seat left empty after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland—who just three days ago won an assessment from the American Bar Association so sterling that it included someone saying, “He may be the perfect human being”—is not a controversial candidate. He has won praise from Orrin Hatch and Jeff Sessions, and even from the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley—the architect of Garland’s limbo.
And yet, as the president pointed out, Republicans in the Senate have been delaying his nomination indefinitely."
Damage from Supreme Court blockade continues; Large majority of North Carolinians want it to end (Progressive Pulse [NC], 06/24/16)
Rob Schofield: "The fallout from the U.S. Senate’s disastrous blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland continued yesterday as the Court was forced to issue several new and momentous rulings without its full complement of justices. The lowlight occurred, of course, when the Court deadlocked 4-4 on a critically important immigration law decision. ... Meanwhile, at the same time that the Supreme Court was issuing its short-staffed rulings, new polling confirmed once again how opposed North Carolina voters are to the blockade of Garland that Senators Burr and Tillis continue to help prop up."
Atkins: Justices did nothing with immigration decision (Boston Herald, 06/24/16)
Columnist Kimberly Atkins: "For all the Republican claims of victory over yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s immigration executive order, the truth of the matter is the justices did absolutely nothing. But I guess for House and Senate leadership, doing nothing must feel comfortably familiar.... The ruling may as well have read: “We couldn’t do our jobs, because Senate lawmakers haven’t.”... But there is one thing the court can’t do: give itself another member to ensure it can function and give clarity to the rule of law. No, that’s the job of the president and the Senate. The president did his part, nominating a well-respected candidate to fill the court’s vacancy. Unfortunately, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell continues to block him."
Mercury News editorial: Immigration ruling hard on Silicon Valley families (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 06/23/16)
"Thursday's non-decision by a paralyzed U.S. Supreme Court on President Obama's immigration policy reflects congressional failure on two levels.
One is Senate Republicans' refusal to even vote on Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. The vacant seat leaves the court doomed to tie votes on divisive issues that should be resolved either way.... it's no way to run a three-branch system of government."
Editorial: Immigrants End Up in Limbo (La Opinión, 06/23/16)
"Such is the result of the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock caused by Antonin Scalia’s death and by the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to consider the judge nominated by the White House to occupy his seat. Thus, the dispute ends without resolution regarding whether the president’s decision to place dangerous undocumented people at the top of the priority list and take other immigrants out of it exceeds his powers."
Senate must act on Supreme Court vacancy (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 06/23/16)
Column by O. Ricardo Pimentel: "It has been more than three months since President Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the month before. And the GOP-controlled Senate, playing pure politics, has refused to act on the nomination until after the November election.... The deadlock brings into stark relief the failure of the Senate to exercise its constitutional obligation to deny or confirm a nominee for the high court. It has refused to give Garland a hearing at all.... there is also the injury caused simply because the court cannot do its job without a tie-breaking vote. Laws and actions go uninterpreted and this lack of clarity disrupts lives.
The Senate must do its job. Give Garland a hearing."
EDITORIAL: High court’s immigration ruling underscores Congress’ failures (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 06/23/16)
"In a nine-word order, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday underscored Congress’ multiple failures.
As the Senate departed Washington for yet another break, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained steadfast in his refusal to convene confirmation hearings on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February.
The short-handed court deadlocked 4-4 and failed to resolve important questions of executive powers."
EDITORIAL: Impasse and Heartbreak on Immigration (New York Times, 06/23/16)
"With a maddening 4-to-4 nondecision announced Thursday, the Supreme Court failed to decide the fate of President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration. ... The Supreme Court took the case, and deadlocked because the Republican Senate has refused to allow Mr. Obama to fill the seat left open by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. The 4-to-4 vote sets no precedent"
EDITORIAL: Immigration reform stalls at the Supreme Court (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 06/23/16)
"For the Supreme Court, the upshot is an unsettling reminder of the need to fill the vacancy resulting from the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The court is split evenly along liberal and conservative lines, as reflected in this 4-to-4 nondecision. That means that appeals courts — the next step down the legal ladder — have the final say because a tie vote by the high court justices leaves the last decision intact.
Senate Republicans are refusing to allow Obama to fill that post. Because of this contrived stubbornness, the legal wheels aren’t turning in the nation’s third branch of government. The White House nominee, Merrick Garland, can’t even get a full Senate hearing, much less a confirmation vote. A close case will need to wait until next year and possibly months after the next president’s term begins.
This is a prime example of how Washington gridlock undermines the nation’s interest."
Editorial: Supreme Court now our junior branch of government (Chicago Sun Times, 06/23/16)
"If Congress won’t do its job, the Supreme Court can’t do its job.
That’s been the warning since the Republican-controlled Senate made it clear in March it won’t even consider filling a vacancy on the Court while Barack Obama is president — and that damage has come in no time at all. On Thursday, the short-handed Court, stuck in a 4-4 tie, was unable to deliver a definitive ruling in one of the most pressing issues facing our nation, whether to grant temporary protections against deportation to more than 4 million undocumented immigrants so that they can live stable and productive lives.... Our Constitution provides for three branches of government — the executive, the legislative and the judicial. But what we’ve got in practice, so long as an evenly divided high court is unable to rule on key constitutional issues, is about 2 1/2 branches of government.... The minute Senate Republicans announced they would not even consider the credentials of Obama’s nominee to the Court, Judge Merrick Garland, they guaranteed that filling this vacancy — and every future vacancy — would be politicized to the extreme."
Editorial: Separation of powers prevails (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 06/23/16)
"Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court has deadlocked on permitting the president to grant amnesty to more than 4 million illegal immigrant .... this deadlock again highlights the ramifications of not filling the Scalia vacancy and living with an evenly divided eight-member high court .... An unelected Supreme Court has had a lot of clout — some would argue too much — but we'd still prefer one that can provide the nation a direction, even if we don't always agree with it."
Editorial: Court punts on immigration, ensuring more deadlock to come (St. Louis Post-Dispatch [MO], 06/23/16)
"If Texas and its allies truly want justice, they should now find a way to sue Congress. That’s the body responsible for the impasse on immigration. (It’s also responsible for the court deadlock, since the Senate refuses to consider Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, for the vacant ninth seat created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February.)"
Editorial: A deadlocked Supreme Court has real consequences for 4 million people (Los Angeles Times, 06/23/16)
"Here is a real-world consequence of the Senate Republican leadership’s refusal to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court: the dashed hopes of more than 4 million immigrants living in fear of deportation.
Thanks to yet another 4-4 deadlock among the justices Thursday, Obama’s “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents” still will not go into effect, and the immigrants who would have been protected by it will not, at least for the moment, be permitted to remain in the United States legally. ,,, while we wait for it to work its way through the courts, we have a Republican-led House that won’t address immigration reform, a Republican-led Senate that has paralyzed a divided Supreme Court,"
EDITORIAL: The Supreme Court leaves undocumented immigrants in the shadows (Washington Post, 06/23/16)
"The icing on the cake of misgovernance is the refusal of Senate Republicans to take up Mr. Obama’s nomination of highly qualified judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Their excuse was the upcoming presidential election, but their action essentially decrees that a president can exercise his constitutional authority to name judges for only three-quarters of his constitutional term. The result is an evenly numbered court prone to deadlock.
The standoff heightens the stakes of the presidential election."
Our View: Blame Congress for failed immigration court ruling; Editorial: The Supreme Court's non-ruling on Obama's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans is a national tragedy. (Arizona Republic, 06/23/16)
"A short-handed Supreme Court deadlocked on one of the most pressing national issues, once again highlighting the failure of Congress to do its job.
The 4-4 tie on the legality of President Obama’s executive action on immigration leaves millions of undocumented parents of U.S. citizen or legal resident children in limbo.... But significant legal questions about whether Obama’s actions exceeded his authority remain unanswered by the highest court in the land. This case will provide no guidance to future presidents.... that’s an unfortunate outcome that reflects the challenges faced by a court that’s been one justice short since the death of Antonin Scalia.
It points to the failure of Congress to even consider a highly qualified Supreme Court nominee from a two-term, sitting president.... Republicans who control Congress should not be crowing about the court victory by default over a Democratic president. They should be telling the American people their plans for immigration reform and restoring the court to nine justices."
Supreme Court Breakfast Table Entry 3: The forces of obstruction and chaos win big. (Slate.com, 06/23/16)
Dahlia Lithwick: "How quickly we have all simply normalized the fact that there are eight justices on the court, and this is the immutable truth, and it will be this way for most of next term, and that everyone—including millions of Americans awaiting definitive answers on crucial questions—is simply watching how the court plans to brazen through that challenge without ever breaking a sweat. What a rout for the forces of obstruction and chaos!"
Editorial: Casualties of a broken Congress, Supreme Court (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 06/23/16)
"It's up to voters in November to send a message that they want Congress to act on bipartisan immigration reform and the Supreme Court to be fully functioning rather than held political hostage.... Senate Republicans are blocking confirmation hearings for Obama's Supreme Court nominee, federal appellate Judge Merrick Garland. The Supreme Court remains one justice short since the death of Antonin Scalia earlier this year, unable to break 4-4 deadlocks.
Because of the obstructionist tactics of congressional Republicans, the nation still has a broken immigration system. It has a Supreme Court incapable of reaching final decisions on key issues."
EDITORIAL: Congress just can’t get its act together on anything except discord (Miami Herald, 06/23/16)
"Where’s a ninth Supreme Court justice when you need one? There is little doubt if the late Justice Antonin Scalia had voted, a 5-4 vote would have been a simple, declarative ruling, likely finding the president’s action unconstitutional. Of course, the result might have been the same if Senate Republicans had done the responsible thing and held hearings and a vote on Mr. Obama’s eminently qualified nominee, Merrick Garland. But their leaders have refused, to their shame.
▪ With the Supreme Court’s majority obviously in play, voters this year will have a huge say in its direction"
BREAKING: Tie Vote In Supreme Court Deals Devastating Blow To Millions Of Immigrants (Think Progress, 06/23/16)
Ian Millhiser: "In light of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) promise to confirm no one Obama nominates to the Supreme Court, that means that DAPA and expanded DACA are almost certainly dead for the duration of the Obama presidency.
Whether they can be revived in the next presidency, moreover, will depend as much on who controls the Senate as it will on who controls the White House. Because if a ninth justice cannot be confirmed next year, it is unlikely that any current member of the Court will change their mind about this case."
This Is Precisely the Right Time for the Senate to Consider Judge Garland’s Supreme Court Nomination: The American Bar Association has given President Obama’s pick its highest rating. (Nation, 06/22/16)
John Nichols: "ABA President Paulette Brown said Tuesday, “It is now imperative that the Senate fulfills its constitutional responsibilities to consider and act promptly on the Supreme Court nominee.”... Democratic and Republican presidents have frequently made Supreme Court nominations in presidential election years, and senators have frequently upheld their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent in those election years. Precedent is on the side of action on the nomination of Obama’s pick. When Mitch McConnell argues otherwise, he is spinning a partisan fantasy.
In the real world, the Senate acts, even when it is not easy.
And it was not easy 100 years ago.... Two Supreme Court justices were nominated, considered, and confirmed in a presidential election year—one of them replacing the nominee of the Republican Party for president. "
What Republicans' Obstruction Costs Them (Bloomberg News, 06/22/16)
Jonathan Bernstein: "normal opposition includes at least the possibility, and sometimes the reality, of cutting deals giving both sides something. And it has never in the past precluded a certain amount of government business getting done.... Republicans have routinely filibustered against (or, under Republican majorities, simply refused to consider) the confirmation of district court judges, even when Obama’s nominees are not controversial at all."
Letter: Encourage Sen. Grassley’s Court [nomination] (Ames Tribune [IA], 06/22/16)
Gordon Lundberg: "As a volunteer with the League of Conservation Voters, I am encouraged that their Iowa Climate Action staff met with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s staff in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss the fact that he refuses to proceed with a vote on the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
L.C.V.’s interest in having a full and functioning Supreme Court relates to the fact that it will be hearing arguments next year regarding the “Clean Power Plan.” Judge Garland would respect the role of scientists in that discussion.
Iowans, please encourage Sen. Grassley to hold a Supreme Court nomination hearing as he is elected to do."
As I see it: Who's (left) to judge? (Telegram & Gazette [MA], 06/22/16)
Thomas Tobin: "The well-publicized vacancy on the Supreme Court isn’t the only one facing the federal judiciary. Right here in Massachusetts, the retirement of Judge Douglas Woodlock has left a vacant seat on the state’s federal district court. ... The Senate has been mulling over his proposed replacement, Inga Bernstein, for over 300 days and counting.... While Inga Bernstein and another 59 nominees across the country await further action by the U.S. Senate, judicial vacancies have myriad real-world consequences. The fact that there are a total of 89 judicial vacancies to the federal bench is indicative of the gridlock .... In one jurisdiction, North Carolina, there's a judicial vacancy that's been open for more than a decade.... Professor Carl Tobias found that judicial vacancies undermine the ability of the federal courts to provide “expeditious, inexpensive, and fair case resolution.” Put simply, vacancies in the federal judiciary “erode justice.”
Fewer judges mean that available resources are further constrained, especially that of arguably the scarcest resource of all -- time. In thirty jurisdictions across the country, dockets are so backlogged that they have been declared judicial emergencies.... more than 10 percent of more than 800 lifetime-appointment judicial posts within the federal judiciary are currently unfilled."
Editor's Notebook: Grassley must agree: The Supreme Court says we can ban assault rifles (Storm Lake Times [IA], 06/22/16)
Art Cullen: "The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal of state laws banning military-style assault rifles. That means that bans in New York and Connecticut may stand, because the Supreme Court can’t decide much of anything these days. It is deadlocked between four liberal justices and four judicial activists posing as conservatives. Grassley refuses to give a hearing to President Obama’s nominee, whose judicial record looks more like John Roberts’ than Thurgood Marshall’s.
So the reason that the assault weapons bans will stand is because of Chuck Grassley and no one else. Garland could have voted his way."
Letter: Don't let politics stand in way of Justice Garland (Dispatch [Moline, IL], 06/22/16)
Rick Sundin Jr.: "By arrogantly refusing to even consider Judge Merrick Garland, our high court has only eight members. Tie votes have already happened and seriously limit the court's effectiveness.“But until now only six presidents since 1900 had outstanding court vacancies in an election year, and in every case the vacancy was filled” (Eugene Kiely).... There is no rational reason that the U.S. Senate should not be doing advise and consent now and conscientiously try to fill the high court vacancy -- just like those previous presidents."
Supreme Court Breakfast Table Entry 2: Wither the full court. (Slate.com, 06/22/16)
Dawn Johnsen: "Senate Republicans’ refusal even to provide Judge Merrick Garland a hearing is an unprecedented shirking of a vital constitutional duty .... blocking an enormously qualified, noncontroversial Supreme Court nominee.... we should not be suffering these effects of a Supreme Court (and lower courts) diminished in numbers. And if we fail to keep the issue front and center, our collective passivity will prolong the harms to the proper functioning of our independent judiciary and thus the American people."