Editorials and Opinion
Grassley's SCOTUS delay sets a dangerous precedent (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/07/16)
Rick Smith, Letter to the Editor: "Sen. Chuck Grassley’s blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process sets in motion a dangerous precedent for future presidents. Grassley and his Republican allies claim they have the right to freeze the Supreme Court confirmation process and refuse to hold hearings.... his totally absurd claim that mid-term elections limit the president’s power to get his nominees confirmed is an extremely risky and unprecedented power grab by Grassley and the Republicans. Based on Grassley’s defective reasoning, what will prevent future opposition parties that take control of the Senate in a mid-term election from refusing to confirm any of that president’s appointments?
If Grassley continues to refuse to hold hearings, he will carry the full responsibility for this irreparable damage to more than 200 years of constitutional confirmation history."
Letter: 'Biden rule' is a farce (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 07/07/16)
Dick Koos: "Northwestern University law professor, Mr. Steven Calabresi, tried to justify U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s blocking of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland. ...There is no such “Biden rule” nor is there a long-standing practice.... Notably, President Ronald Reagan nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy and he was confirmed by a Democratic Senate."
The nation's legal system needs a full Supreme Court (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 07/07/16)
Prof. Miriam Seifter opinion column: "Since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the eight-justice court has struggled to do its job. This is a problem that affects the entire judiciary.... These deadlocks and remands underscore the need for a full Supreme Court. Back in March, President Barack Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland, my former boss, to the bench. Months later, the ball remains in the Senate's court. This is a role that the entire Senate, including Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, must take seriously.... One of the key benefits of having a Supreme Court, rather than simply a series of regional federal appeals courts, is the ability to provide uniformity on difficult legal questions. Without this feature, federal law may differ depending on which court you ask. ... The need for nine justices counsels strongly in favor of timely Senate hearings for duly appointed Supreme Court nominees.... Any further delay harms our courts and the rule of law."
EDITORIAL: No final answer (Storm Lake Times [IA], 07/06/16)
"There’s no question that immigrants feel deflated after the US Supreme Court last week effectively ended the Obama Administration’s attempt to shield several million undocumented people from deportation. ... The Supreme Court was deadlocked on whether the appeal should be heard. That’s because Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will not allow a hearing for Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.... Congress is not doing its job. It is not reviewing Supreme Court nominees. Grassley prefers to play games."
Senate inaction continues to cost the Supreme Court (Seacoastonline [Southern ME & NH], 07/06/16)
Gary Patton: "As I write this letter, 110 days have elapsed since the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. During this time U.S. Senate Republicans, including N.H. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, have blocked any action on Garland's nomination. In the history of the United States, 139 Supreme Court nominees have been confirmed or rejected by the Senate in 110 days.
The failure by Senate Republicans, including Ayotte, to hold hearings and vote Garland up or down has left the court with only eight justices, raising the possibility of four-to-four split votes which would leave the legal question under consideration unanswered.
Unfortunately, this unhappy possibility has become a reality"
EDITORIAL: State Republicans cast lot with pride and prejudice (Daily Reflector [Greenville, NC], 07/06/16)
"If Donald Trump does not win in November, Republicans might regret the decision of their leadership to withhold consideration of President Obama’s temperately conservative Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, should this case travel that far."
N.J. judge awaits GOP-delayed vote while your civil case remains on hold | Opinion (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 07/06/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "Among the country’s ten biggest federal courts, the District of New Jersey is second in weighted filings per district judgeship, a figure that assumes all seventeen authorized judgeships are filled. ... On June 11, 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Brian Martinotti,.... The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Martinotti on October 29 without dissent. However, the nominee has languished on the Senate floor ever since, principally due to Republican leaders’ refusal to allow his confirmation debate and vote. ... The District of New Jersey currently has three vacancies, so the court lacks seventeen percent of its active judicial complement, which frustrates district efforts to deliver justice. Chief Judge Jerome Simandle has been urging the Senate to quickly fill the openings ever since they arose. ... He concluded that the three “vacancies each at least one year old, [and the] enormous docket pressures make New Jersey a ‘’‘judicial emergency’ district three times over” and hoped for “Senate action soon.” ... Republican leaders have maintained that they are returning the Senate to “regular order,” however, Martinotti and many other competent, mainstream nominees have waited months for final votes."
In Our View: Courting the next president [EDITORIAL] (Santa Maria Times [CA], 07/06/16)
"Here’s a semi-rhetorical question — who is hurt by a U.S. Supreme Court with eight justices instead of nine? Here’s our non-rhetorical answer — just about everyone.
Our point was made clear last week when the short-handed court deadlocked 4-4 on President Obama’s de facto immigration reform executive order, thus sending the lower-court ruling against Obama’s law back into a state of legal limbo.... There is a fair chance the next president will have an opportunity to nominate two candidates for Supreme Court seats,.... That scenario alone is reason enough to vote in November."
Vail Daily column: Supreme Court deadlocks hinder us all (Vail Daily [CO], 07/05/16)
Rohn K. Robbins: "the Republican Senate is refusing to act on President Obama’s seemingly uncontroversial nominee, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Merrick Garland.... When the Supreme Court bench is short, then deadlocks simply can’t be broken. In the end, that disserves the interests of justice, the Constitutional intent and the welfare of us all."
I'm appalled by what's happening in the Senate right now (CNBC, 07/05/16)
Commentary by Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn: "instead of holding hearings in which to assess Judge Garland's suitability for the Supreme Court, McConnell and his colleagues are doing nothing.
If their obstructionism goes unchecked, it will continue harming American citizens in very tangible ways. Having only eight Justices on the bench increases the possibility of a deadlock.
When cases end in deadlock, nothing gets decided. Resources are expended, and the American public is left hanging until the Supreme Court can hear the case again or consider another case with similar issues....So let Mitch McConnell know that it's time to quit abdicating around. Tell him to do his job and schedule a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland now."
EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate, do your job — confirm judges (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 07/05/16)
"Nebraska got some good news from the U.S. Senate on June 27 when it voted 90-0 to confirm Robert F. Rossiter Jr. to the ... District of Nebraska to fill an emergency vacancy.
Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has been praised for her work to see that the Senate took this vote. But the 90-0 vote shows that there was no opposition to Rossiter, so why did it take this long?
And the filling of this one judicial vacancy just raises the question of why the Senate has been unable to fill dozens of other vacancies throughout the country. It has allowed just 21 judicial nominees to be confirmed since the start of this Congress, even though judicial vacancies have nearly doubled in the past 18 months and the number of judicial emergencies has increased from 12 to 29.... Vacancies are continuing to prevent our country’s justice system from operating smoothly throughout the country.
There are now more than 80 judicial vacancies in all, ... and 20 federal judicial vacancies that have nominees ....
When judicial vacancies go unfilled, Americans suffer through costly delays in trials. We have seen ... how critical the shortage caused by Antonin Scalia’s death is in the court’s efforts to make decisions.
With the Senate set to go on a seven-week break on July 15, it is time for our country’s senators to do one of the crucial tasks they were elected to do, vote on more of these judicial nominee[s]."
COLUMN: Happy Birthday, America (Star-Exponent [Culpeper, VA], 07/05/16)
David Reuther: "If government is seen as broken, it is because cooperation and compromise are no longer in favor. For example, the Senate refuses to act on a presidential Supreme Court nomination. The Republican blockade of Judge Merrick Garland is shameful, but it is only the most glaring example of what has been a historic slowdown in filing federal court vacancies across the country. Mitch McConnell’s Senate has confirmed only 20 of the President’s nominees since the Republicans took control of the Senate in January 2015. This is the slowest pace since the early 1950s.
As a result of the Senate’s blockage, there are now 83 vacant federal judgeships nation-wide — 30 of which have such overwhelming case backlogs that the court system has classified them as judicial emergencies."
Your 2 Cents’ Worth: Tuesday, July 5 (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/05/16)
"Sen. Grassley is confusing me. Is the November election to elect a president or a Supreme Court justice." — 50574 Senior
The Public Pulse, July 5: Fischer has given us a good judge (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 07/05/16)
Mary Lauritzen: "Robert Rossiter Jr. of Omaha confirmed to the federal bench. The final vote in the Senate was 90-0.
It was a good nomination that eventually, thanks to Sen. Fischer’s negotiations, resulted in a vote that unified the U.S. Senate"
Federal judicial vacancies in Texas still an emergency (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/04/16)
Hooman Hedayati, Commentary: "A year ago today on this page, I criticized the troubling obstructionism by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas.
They have repeatedly failed to fill vacated seats in our state’s federal appellate and district courts, including their opposition to potential nominations of qualified district judges originally recommended by Republicans.... Our state’s federal judiciary is in abysmal shape, as there are still two vacancies on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and 10 vacancies — three more than last year — in Texas’ U.S. District Courts. The oldest vacancy goes back to 2011. Additionally, several federal judges are expected to retire in the next few years.
In comparison, there are no appellate vacancies under Missouri and Louisiana, both part of the 5th Circuit. ... The Judicial Conference of the United States, headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, has marked all the Texas vacancies as a “judicial emergency,” accounting for 29 percent of the judicial emergencies nationwide .... there are 97 current and future vacancies. .... On March 15, President Barack Obama nominated five experienced individuals to fill some of the district court vacancies.
The Senate Judiciary Committee rules require both home state senators to sign a “blue slip” card, noting their approval, in order to schedule a confirmation hearing. So far, none has signed or indicated his intent to do so.
So much for working hard to fill the vacancies, Sen. Cornyn.
As long as Sens. Cornyn and Cruz continue to play politics and ignore their constitutional duty, Texans will suffer from this blatant obstruction.
Justice delayed is justice denied."
We’ve forgotten about GOP’s obstructionism amid gun-control debate (Seattle Times [WA] , 07/03/16)
Patrick J. Russell, Letter to the Editor: "Republicans have long been engaged in a coordinated effort to block administration appointments of all kinds. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has now sat in limbo for 100 days. And so have judicial appointments at all levels, all around the country, even including nominees sponsored and supported by Republicans."
Main Street opposes SCOTUS delay (Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA], 07/03/16)
Frank Driscoll, guest columnist: "I’ve found that easily 2/3rds of the small business owners I talk to think that Senator Grassley should get along with doing his job already, and a hold a hearing for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
To them it’s simple; when you are paid to do a job, you show up and do the work it involves. Many understand that Senator Grassley may not want to vote for Merrick Garland, and that is fine, he does not have to vote in favor of Merrick Garland, but that does not mean he can refuse to do his job and pretend there isn’t a vacancy on the Supreme Court. As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is his job alone to forward the hearing process so that the rest of the Senate can do its job in either voting for or against a nominee."
Iowa's small-business owners want SCOTUS hearing (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/03/16)
Frank Driscoll, Letter to the Editor: "I’ve found that two-thirds of the small business owners I talk to think that Sen. Chuck Grassley should get along with doing his job by holding a hearing for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.... Throughout Grassley’s many years of service to Iowa he has given us cause for pride, but now, that legacy is at risk of being overshadowed by his obstruction. With an even number of justices on the Supreme Court, the court will be unable to effectively pass rulings, forcing many cases to be reheard at a later date, and more will simply go unheard. This will become Sen. Grassley’s legacy if he does not heed the advice of Iowa’s main streets."
Republicans not allowing elderly a ‘voice’ (Iowa City Press-Citizen, 07/02/16)
John Menninger, Letter to the Editor: "President Obama, following the U.S. Constitution, nominated Merrick Garland of the D.C. circuit appeals court to fill the vacated seat but the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has vowed to block the nomination. Our own Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has refused even to hold hearings on the Garland nomination .... Why, you might ask, is the Senate not doing its constitutional duty in considering the nomination and voting to consent or reject it? McConnell has stated the answer succinctly — the American people should have a “voice” in the process — and Grassley apparently agrees.
But some American people won’t have a “voice,” namely those who voted for the current president in 2012 but who won’t be able to vote in November’s election. These voiceless are voters who will have died since the nomination in March. ... So, what do Senate Republicans have against elderly voters? Why won’t they do what the Constitution says is their job?"
Editorial, 7/2: Immigration reform is up to Congress (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 07/02/16)
"The American system of government works when policy on controversial major issues is hammered out in Congress.
These days major issues don’t even reach the voting stage.
The high court’s 4-4 tie and the lack of any statement on the merits of the case spotlighted the refusal of Republican leaders in the Senate to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee. The U.S. Supreme Court could be forced to operate without its ninth justice for months or years."
Hansen: Though it acting at all is cause for celebration, Senate’s slow going on Rossiter is just sad (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 07/02/16)
Matthew Hansen / World-Herald columnist: "The Senate actually did do something important Monday when it confirmed Omaha lawyer Robert Rossiter as Nebraska’s newest U.S. District Court judge.
Rossiter’s confirmation offered a common sense solution to a real problem — namely, that our state’s federal district court has been understaffed for nearly two years, creating a logjam of cases.
And it served as a rare moment of good, bipartisan feeling, a unanimous vote applauded by Republican Sen. Deb Fischer .... federal district judicial nominees are rarely controversial. ... That line is so long because Senate leaders simply refuse to make it shorter. As recently as 2008, the Senate would speed the process by lumping together a bunch of non-controversial nominees like Rossiter and confirming them all at once. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has done away with that practice, .... This willfully ignores that in June there were 67 vacant U.S. court judgeships, nearly double the number of vacancies at the same point during President George W. Bush’s presidency and way more than at any point during the Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush administrations.
It also continues to morph this once-common sense process into more and more of a political game .... The end result: It took the Senate more than a full year to take a vote — a 90-0 vote — and confirm Rossiter.
That delay matters.... what suffers are the civil cases."
Letters: IMPROPER PRECEDENTS (ABA Journal, 07/01/16)
Ilya Shlyakhter: "Regarding “Holding Court,” May, about the refusal to hold hearings on the nomination of Merrick Garland: The premise of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s “principle” is that the nearest election best reflects voters’ voice. The principle would apply in the third year of a president’s term, since at that point the nearest election is the next one.
This would mean that Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony M. Kennedy were improperly nominated. ... McConnell suggests that a president should not make an appointment that “will affect the Supreme Court for probably a quarter of a century” beyond his term. President Ronald Reagan did exactly that with his appointment of Justice Antonin Scalia."
Letter to the editor: Confirm Merrick Garland (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 07/01/16)
Brian Hoffman: "I’m feeling especially sad and fed up. For the fourth time since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the nation’s highest court has deadlocked because Senate Republicans have refused to even hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy.... As Ohioans, we must demand that U.S. Sen. Rob Portman urge his Republican colleagues to stop their obstructionism and hold confirmation hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, the supremely qualified Judge Merrick Garland."
If Paul Ryan likes order, he should encourage a Senate vote on court nominee (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 07/01/16)
George Bedo, Letter to the Editor: "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan labeled the protest by House Democrats regarding gun control proposals as a high-profile stunt... saying, “We can disagree on policy, but we do so within the bounds of order and respect for the system, otherwise it falls apart.”
So with that in mind, why can’t the Republican House speaker encourage Republican senators to sit down, interview and vote for or against Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, within the bounds of order and respect for the system? Why? Because the speaker is a hypocrite!"
EDITORIAL: End the Senate’s useless judicial obstructionism (Butler Eagle [PA], 06/30/16)
"President Barack Obama nominated Judge Horan for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania nearly a year ago. She would fill one of three seats on the court which have been vacant since 2013. A fourth seat became vacant this year .... there’s been no timetable put forward for a full vote by the Senate to send her or any of the dozens of other judicial nominees awaiting confirmation to the federal bench.
That’s a shameful and harmful state of affairs which Pennsylvania voters shouldn’t tolerate. District courts across the country hear hundreds of thousands of cases annually, and need a full complement of judges to function properly.... this U.S. Senate is allowing an entire corner of Pennsylvania to go without a sitting federal judge.... In the case of Judge Horan and district court nominees like her, the Senate’s obstructionist tactics aren’t just harmful, they are nonsensical. These appointees aren’t political statements by the president or even generally controversial in any way. Both Horan and Baxter have been endorsed by Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat.
Yet the Senate’s destructive behavior, meant to harm Obama but managing only to punish sitting federal judges and the citizens these courts are meant to serve, continues."
LinkedIn founder: if Senate were more like Silicon Valley, we'd have a full Supreme Court by now (Vox, 06/30/16)
Tara Golshan: "When President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court of the United States, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it explicitly clear the nomination would go nowhere, the Democrats’ response to Senate Republicans was simple: Do your job.... In a call for action, Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, a voice from Silicon Valley, put it this way: If institutions in other industries tried to pull this kind of thing — delay basic responsibilities to their liking — it would be "corporate suicide""
What about the Other Judicial Nominees? (Boston's Blog, 06/30/16)
Jim Boston: "It finally happened.
372 days after President Barack Obama nominated him to serve as a district judge for the US District Court for the State of Nebraska, Robert F. Rossiter Jr. finally got the gig.... the US Senate voted, 90-0, to confirm Rossiter .... Now it's time for the two dozen other district-judge nominees to get their confirmations.
In fact, it's long been time. One of the reasons Rossiter's got a new job is US Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), ... On the other side of the coin...Fischer's one of the US senators fighting like you-know-what to prevent Merrick Garland from even having a hearing as Obama's nominee to replace the now-deceased Antonin Scalia.... 1988 was also the year where, 49 days into the year, a 51-year-old Californian named Anthony Kennedy became the newest SCOTUS justice.... Isn't it time to give Garland his due?"
Confirmation hearings are a must (Daily Record [Wooster, OH], 06/30/16)
Brian Hoffman: "Because the Supreme Court does not have its full complement of nine justices, it failed again to deliver a definitive ruling in another case of national importance.
Regardless of one's views on immigration, America must unite on the need for the nation's highest court to have the vacancy filled. And Ohioans must demand that Sen. Rob Portman urge his Republican colleagues to stop their obstructionism and hold confirmation hearings on President Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland."