Editorials and Opinion
How the G.O.P. Outsourced the Judicial Nomination Process. (New York Times, 07/21/16)
Linda Greenhouse Op-Ed: "The N.R.A.’s instant and evidence-free denunciation of Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy, may have appeared to be just piling on, since Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, had already announced that no nominee would even be granted a hearing. But in fact, it was merely the tip of the iceberg.... Senator McConnell, who was then the minority leader, went to his friends at the N.R.A. to ask a favor: oppose the Sotomayor nomination and “score” the vote....The scenario was repeated the following year with the nomination of Elena Kagan .... The N.R.A. was also largely responsible for the defeat of Caitlin J. Halligan, a distinguished Obama administration nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The president submitted her name three times, but she never got a vote.... And what about Merrick Garland, whose nomination to the Supreme Court passed the four-month mark the other day? The N.R.A. objects to his vote on the D.C. Circuit, where he is chief judge, to give a full-court rehearing to a three-judge panel’s opinion that the District of Columbia’s strict gun-control law was unconstitutional. He was joined in that unsuccessful vote by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, one of the more conservative judges ever to sit on the appeals court."
EDITORIAL: Zika threat gets worse, Congress skips town (Miami Herald, 07/20/16)
"In fact, and as shameful, Congress left a long list of unfinished business before lawmakers went off to campaign for reelection and attend the political conventions: a measure to prevent terrorists from acquiring firearms, scores of judicial confirmations, a broad criminal justice reform bill, basic appropriations bills and much more. And, of course, the Supreme Court nomination the Senate refused to hear."
Editorial: Congress skips out on vital business (Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA], 07/20/16)
"The fact remains they left important business hanging as they headed for the airport.
For instance, Idaho is awaiting confirmation of David Nye as federal judge. He was nominated to be the state’s second federal district judge, replacing Judge Edward Lodge who took senior status last July. The state has been getting by with just one federal district judge for a year. Now it will wait another seven weeks, at best.
The Senate Judiciary Committee finally voted to confirm Nye on Thursday, but he can’t begin work until the full Senate takes a vote. Seventeen other judges have been waiting even longer to be confirmed. Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, can’t even get a hearing.
Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Z. Russell, who covers Idaho politics, conducted research on “August” recesses and found this to be the longest one since they began, in 1971."
Commentary: With Merrick Garland obstruction, U.S. Senate sets sad milestone (Philadelphia Inquirer [PA], 07/20/16)
Frederick Lawrence: "Judge Merrick Garland has set a record he never sought and one of which no one, certainly not the U.S. Senate, should be proud. July 19 marks 125 days since President Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The nomination passes the record for delay that the Senate set a century ago with the nomination of Louis D. Brandeis to the court.... Even the battle over the Brandeis nomination a century ago culminated in a vote on the floor of the Senate. ... Today marks a new low - the Senate refuses even to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland. I join lawyers and scholars from across the political and legal spectrum in observing that Garland is an exceptionally qualified nominee ... The constitutional responsibility of the Senate to provide advice and consent is clear.... the institution whose credibility is most at risk from this obstruction is the U.S. Senate itself."
Judge Garland’s Nomination, Day 126 (New York Times, 07/20/16)
Jeffrey Rosen, Op-Ed: " on March 16, Merrick B. Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court. Today, therefore, he surpasses the record previously held by Louis D. Brandeis .... There’s reason to believe that Judge Garland, if confirmed, would also be a unifying figure. ... If Judge Garland is confirmed, he could be just what America needs to help bring us together at a time when justices and citizens of different perspectives have never seemed so far apart."
Leo Almeida (Opinion) (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH], 07/20/16)
Leo Almeida: "While the Supreme Court is not solely to blame for the broken state of immigration, this decision brings to light a glaring problem with our current court. The Supreme Court is meant to be a nine-justice court to prevent exactly this type of gridlock, and we are starting to see the negative effects an eight-justice court has on our country. Because of political maneuvering by Senate Republicans, we are now seeing partisan congestion in the one institution that was created to alleviate such inaction and ambiguity: the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, decided to put politics ahead of doing their job and now more families across Ohio will face the impacts of an eight-justice court. By refusing to hold hearings for President Barack Obama's current Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, they are not only disregarding their duties to uphold the Constitution but also their duties to their constituents. Because, while immigration may be the most recent example of the negative consequences of the Supreme Court's 4-4 decisions on the lives of Ohioans, it certainly won't be the last."
EDITORIAL: It's the court, stupid (Gazette (Colorado Springs), 07/20/16)
"This election is about a choice of lesser evils and the havoc either could wreak.
At stake for Republicans is the Supreme Court of the United States. If Clinton wins, she may appoint up to five judges .... At stake for Democrats is . the Supreme Court of the United States. Trump has assured conservatives he will appoint originalist justices, first screened by the right-of-center Federalist Society."
EDITORIAL: The Report Card for July 21 (Asheville Citizen-Times [NC] , 07/20/16)
"Staff grades: F to the continued logjam on judicial appoints in the U.S. Senate, which of course includes a Supreme Court nominee who’s been languishing without a hearing for more than four months. Last week a batch of other nominees were presented for votes, only to be shot down by N.C.’s junior Senator, Thom Tillis, saying that “What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs.’’ ... considering the stonewalling on judges, it is in fact easy to say the Senate isn’t doing its job. One of the vacant seats, for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, has been empty for 10 and a half years."
Why 2016 may actually be the most important election of our lifetime (The Hill, 07/20/16)
Evan Berryhill: "Once the new Senate is sworn in, they will have a very important duty to fulfill; the duty of confirming the new presidential appointment to the Supreme Court. The Senate has already made clear they have no intentions of taking up a vote on President Obama nominee Merrick Garland, but they will certainly be taking up a vote on the choice by the new president. Currently, the court sits at a 4-4 split, making this next presidential appointment one that will sway the balance of the court. However, while the new president is likely to take office with one Supreme Court appointment to make, there is a chance that the next president could have one or even two additional appointments to the high court before their time as president is up, even if they only serve one term. This could ultimately end up being a presidency that sways the balance of the court for the next 20 years."
Editorial: 'Full Grassley' isn't all that it's cracked up to be (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/20/16)
"Progress Iowa is correct to question whether “The Full Grassley” is all that it’s cracked up to be.
Case in point: In late March, amidst the furor over Grassley’s refusal to hold confirmation hearings on the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, the senator met with hundreds of constituents across western Iowa. But only three of his 19 planned events during that congressional spring recess were publicly announced town hall meetings — and those were in the three most heavily Republican counties in the state."
Chuck Grassley Sets All-Time U.S. Record For Obstruction (Iowa Starting Line, 07/20/16)
Pat Rynard: "Tuesday marked 125 days since President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, with Senator Chuck Grassley still refusing to hold a hearing for him. ... Senator Grassley will now be forever known as the worst obstructionist in all of American history on the courts process. ... Brandeis believed the big banks needed to broken up, not just regulated .... Garland was selected precisely because he lacked any major ideological leanings. Obama put him forward for his record of being a fair, thoughtful jurist, typically the kind of nominee that both political parties can get behind. Which is what makes Grassley’s opposition to holding hearings all the more noteworthy. It’s not about the ideology or resume of the actual nominee. It’s solely about which party the president nominating him belongs to. And the refusal to hold a hearing reflects that – what Republicans likely truly fear is a public examination of Garland, which would simply reinforce how qualified he is to serve."
History in the Making! Republican-Led Senate Breaks 100-Year Record for Congressional Ineptitude! (Portland Mercury [OR], 07/20/16)
Bobby Roberts: "Today is the 126th day since the President nominated Merrick Garland on March 16th, 2016, to fill the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia's death. There have been zero Senate hearings since. This breaks the record for longest span of time between Presidential nomination and either approval or dismissal, previously belonging to President Woodrow Wilson's nomination of Louis Brandeis, which ended at 125 days.... In 1916, a period in American history not particularly known for its cultural enlightenment, the Senate spent the better part of 125 days arguing about—and ultimately admitting to the Supreme Court—a Jewish Social Justice Warrior.
100 years later, our Senate has yet to hold a single hearing on Garland."
Letter: Grassley doesn't stand for Iowa values (Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA], 07/19/16)
Natalie Harwood: "Sen. Chuck Grassley no longer represents Iowans by refusing to act on replacing late Justice Antonin Scalia.... The Constitution lays out the roles of the president to nominate and the Senate to “advice and consent.” ... The American people elect their legislators, but they don’t elect judges."
Daily Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest (The White House, 07/19/16)
"Leader McConnell, Chairman Grassley, and the Senate Republican caucus are setting records for inaction as they fail to fulfill even their most basic constitutional responsibilities.
Today marks 125 days since President Obama fulfilled his constitutional responsibility and nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the United States Supreme Court. ... the President lent his support to an idea that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, also supported -- namely, that the Senate should commit to giving qualified Supreme Court nominees a hearing and a vote within an established time frame."
Commentary: Powerful essay underscores absurdity of Burr/Tillis judicial blockade (Progressive Pulse [NC], 07/19/16)
Rob Schofield: "the essay below ... does a great job of explaining the outrageous nature of the ongoing blockade of Judge Merrick Garland and numerous other Obama judicial nominees by the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate — a blockade in which both of North Carolina’s senators — Richard Burr and Thom Tillis — continue to play a sadly prominent role."
GOP's Record-Breaking SCOTUS Obstruction (People For blog, 07/19/16)
And at Day 125 of the nomination, the GOP has set a shameful record: D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland is now the longest pending Supreme Court nominee in American history, and he still has not been allowed to have a committee hearing....So on this record-breaking 125th day of the GOP’s refusal to do its job, let us hope that Senate Republicans will move to hold a hearing and vote on Judge Garland as soon as they return in September"
Like It Or Not, The Left Still Loves The Supreme Court (Above the Law, 07/19/16)
Joe Patrice: "certain populations, in particular those important to progressives, can’t quit the Supreme Court. ... Perhaps the synthesis of the two panels was put forward by Anisha Singh, noting the importance of the judiciary to progressive reforms, but warning against fixation on the Supreme Court when the judiciary as a whole is understaffed (100 vacancies as of today, with 30 courts having declared judicial emergencies), and critically important to vindicating citizen rights."
America, Out to Sea: Are we witnessing the unraveling of the United States? (U.S. News & World Report, 07/19/16)
Jamie Stiehm, Contributor: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shown a mule's stubborn streak in refusing to hold hearings for President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. Since February, that has set a defiant tone for working together. That is "supreme" disrespect to a president. It's never been done before."
The Ties That Bind (Medium, 07/19/16)
Alvaro Moises Huerta: "The Senate has gone a record-breaking 125 days without granting a hearing to determine whether President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia is fit to serve on the nation’s highest court. That is downright shameful.... We need a full Court in order for justice to be realized. The Senate must fill the vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s death more than five months ago. As the 4–4 tie in Texas proves, the political dog-and-pony show currently playing itself out in the Senate and being pushed by Republicans who will go to great lengths to stymie the president’s nominee has tied the hands of the Supreme Court. Justice, and all of us, suffer for it."
Obstructionist Tom Cotton: Speech light on Trump references (Arkansas Times, 07/19/16)
Max Brantley: "A legal website, Law360, wrote this week about Cotton's continuing obstruction of judicial appointments, particularly to the federal court of claims. The article demolishes Cotton's pretexts for refusing to fill seats on the important court and again raises an implication that he might be serving the special interest of a former law firm in doing so. ... court with a rising caseload isn't getting the help it needs. Tom Cotton stands in the way, despite multiple approvals of bipartisan-approved nominees for vacancies. "The ability of the court to decide cases is being inexcusably harmed by Sen. Cotton's failure to do his job," said Glenn Sugameli, founder of Judging the Environment and a senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. "There's an advise and consent duty." A prominent example of the problems the court faces without a full bench came in Judge Mary Ellen Coster Williams' comments at an October scheduling conference, in a case filed by the Jicarilla Apache Nation, according to Sugameli. While noting she could possibly hand trial off to another judge, Judge Williams said that she would otherwise have to move a trial originally scheduled for November back to July, her earliest available opening, with "a lot" of emergency cases to resolve first. "There's real, specific evidence that this is hurting the ability to resolve cases," Sugameli said."
Senate puts politics above Constitution (Columbia Daily Tribune [MO] , 07/19/16)
Prof. Gregory P. Magarian Op-Ed: "President Barack Obama has fulfilled his constitutional duty to nominate a candidate to break the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock. Bearing in mind the need to work with the Senate, he has resisted liberals’ calls to nominate a young, left-wing firebrand. Instead he has chosen in Merrick Garland an older, moderate federal judge with impeccable legal qualifications, a man whom numerous Republicans have praised.
Yet within hours of Scalia’s death, before the nation could even catch its collective breath to mourn his loss, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell had proclaimed the Senate wouldn’t so much as hold hearings on anyone President Obama might nominate to fill the seat. Sen. McConnell and his Republican forces have stuck to their guns, even in the face of the most moderate Supreme Court nomination by any president of either party in at least 30 years.
Senate Republicans’ obstruction of the Garland nomination sends a clear message: Party above country."
Let’s keep our convention attacks in perspective, shall we? (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 07/19/16)
Steve Sebelius, Review-Journal political columnist: "Why don’t we start by simply holding votes on the nominations the president has already made, such as U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, a man praised by both Republicans and Democrats as a fair-minded and well-qualified jurist. To simply ignore that nomination and refuse to hold a vote is an utter failure to live up to the oath of office for senators, yet the Republican-controlled Senate has done just that.
In fact, there was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the stage Tuesday evening, boasting of his promise to not allow the president of the United States to exercise his powers to fill up vacancies on the Supreme Court, because McConnell said he had promised that honor to the next president. And the delegates cheered! This was possibly the lowest point of the convention thus far."
Commentary: 125 days of not doing their jobs; Senators set new record of inaction on Garland nomination (Progressive Pulse [NC], 07/19/16)
Rob Schofield: "The U.S. Senate is setting a new record for inaction on a Supreme Court justice nomination this week. Today marks 125 days since President Obama submitted the name of Merrick Garland .... Here in North Carolina, we are, sadly, home to two of the chief obstructionists. Senator Richard Burr has not only refused to even address the Garland nomination in anything approaching a thorough way, he has been blocking nominees to the federal court in the state’s eastern district for a full decade now. Meanwhile, Burr’s junior partner, Thom Tillis made national headlines last week (see the cartoon below) with his asinine comment that Senate consideration of judicial nominations has “nothing to do with us doing our jobs.” The bottom line: North Carolina’s U.S. senators are not only not doing their jobs, they clearly don’t even understand what their jobs entail."
Decoding the Thurmond Rule (American Constitution Society Blog, 07/19/16)
Harsh Voruganti: "approximately one in ten federal judgeships is currently sitting vacant, leading to judicial backlogs in the affected courts. Unfortunately, due to an obscure Senate theory called the Thurmond Rule, this vacancy rate will only increase in the coming weeks.
Despite its moniker, the Thurmond Rule is not a formal Senate rule, but rather an informal theory. ... Regardless of the rhetoric on the issue, there is virtually no precedent for a complete shutdown of judicial nominations upon the summer recess.... In 1980, when the Thurmond Rule was supposedly first invoked, the Senate confirmed two circuit court judges and eleven district court judges after the August recess. In 1988, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed two circuit court judges and nine district court judges after the August recess. In 1992, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed three circuit court judges and nine district court judges post-August. In 2000, a Republican-majority Senate confirmed four district court judges in October. In 2008, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed ten district court judges in late September. ... there is no reason why President Obama cannot see similar confirmation rates.
Additionally, many of the nominees confirmed in previous Congresses were nominated and processed late in the Presidential election season. ... In contrast to 68 judges confirmed by a Democratic Senate in the last two years of the Bush presidency, only 20 judges have been confirmed by the Republican Senate this Congress. ... the Senate maintains a responsibility to continue processing judicial nominations into late September and October. If the Senate fails to meet that goal, it cannot rely on the Thurmond Rule as a defense."
Edit Memo: Senate Republicans, Exhausted From Not Doing Their Jobs, Take a 7-Week Vacation, the Longest in 60 Years (People For blog, 07/19/16)
Paul Gordon: "Last week, the GOP-controlled Senate explained why there supposedly wasn’t enough time before an extensive summer recess, the longest in 60 years, to confirm numerous long-standing consensus judicial nominees. In fact, they spent more time making excuses than it would have taken to actually confirm the nominees.
The exchange revealed new depths to which Senate Republicans will sink in order to avoid doing their jobs and voting on the president’s nominees to our lower federal courts, in addition to their unprecedented refusal to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court."
A spotlight on the Supreme Court, and its vacancy (The Hill, 07/19/16)
Geoffrey McGovern: "Before Garland was nominated, a majority of respondents (56 percent) said the seat should be filled before the next president takes office in January. That puts them at odds with the Senate, where there are no signs of movement. In a time of fiercely divided politics about nearly all aspects of American life, a clear majority wants a full bench, but appears unlikely to get it soon."