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Chief Justice Roberts must defend Supreme Court (Albany Times Union [NY], 10/31/16)
Jay Jochnowitz, Editorial page editor: Chief Justice Roberts must defend Supreme Court: It might be constitutionally legal for a Republican Senate to block any Democratic judicial nominee to the Supreme Court under a Clinton presidency, but such obstructionism undermines the court’s authority and ability to function, writes Dahlia Lithwick in Slate. It’s time for Chief Justice John Roberts to say in a “sober, measured, and nonpartisan fashion” that the nation’s highest court requires nine justices to ensure the court has the power and the means to resolve vital disputes without gridlock and that litigants undergo a fair judicial process, she writes.

Ted Cruz Knows Better Than to Suggest Shrinking the Supreme Court (Houston Press [TX], 10/31/16)
Dianna Wray: Of course, slow pedaling judicial nominations is par for the course with Cruz. He and fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn have made a habit of delaying and blocking federal judicial appointments to everything from the federal trial courts to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This is how the Republican-dominated Senate rolls as a whole. The Senate confirmed only 11 judges in all of 2015, the lowest single-year total since 1960, according to the Alliance for Justice. With only 11 more judges confirmed so far in 2016, this Congress is on pace for the lowest number of judicial confirmations since the 82nd Congress, back in 1951 and 1952. While this tactic probably plays beautifully to Republican constituencies — they're opposing President Barack Obama so much that he can barely even get judges confirmed — it has led to increased workloads and delays in trials for federal courts that handle thousands of cases per year. Right now, 10 percent of the U.S. district federal judgeships are vacant and many of the other judges are handling massive caseloads.

Congress simply won’t do its job [Editorial] (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 10/30/16)
Express-News Editorial Board: the Senate left town without doing its job of advice and consent. So another branch — the Supreme Court — is down a justice and at 4-4 gridlock. Along with a whole lot of other vacancies, the GOP majority has refused to act on President Barack Obama’s nomination of the highly qualified Merrick Garland to the court. He was nominated by a Democrat, you see. We read nothing in the Constitution about waiting until after the next election if you control the Senate but not the White House. The Supreme Court’s new term, by statute, begins the first Monday in October, and it generally ends in June or July. This is not a trifling matter…. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, promised a return to normalcy, which is to say “regular order.” … this kind of dysfunction deserves a simple question for congressional leadership: Why won’t you do your jobs?

Our View: Supreme Court could remain hobbled [Editorial] (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 10/28/16)
"This week, Ted Cruz became the second Republican senator to hint that, if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, the GOP will block any nominee she chooses to join the Supreme Court, leaving the court unable to break ties in crucial cases. Already, the GOP majority has refused to schedule a vote on Merrick Garland, the D.C. Appeals court justice nominated by President Obama to fill a vacancy left in February by the death of Antonin Scalia"

Editorial [print headline: Have Republicans learned nothing?] (Washington Post, 10/28/16)
Editorial Board: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) raised the prospect of an indefinite Republican blockade around the vacant Supreme Court seat. Irresponsibly, Senate Republicans have refused to even hold hearings on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat of Antonin Scalia, who died in February. Now Mr. Cruz seems to be suggesting that this willful dysfunction be carried into the new Congress and presidency. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” he said. Mr. Cruz did not say he would oppose a nominee submitted by Ms. Clinton, which would be within the bounds of normal political discourse. Rather, he has suggested that Republicans in the Senate, if facing a Democratic president, simply not act. Crudely, his message is: We lost the presidency, so let’s take our marbles and go home. Such thinking seems to come easily to the senator who led the 2013 government shutdown. But it runs against the oath Mr. Cruz took as a senator to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.”

It’s mourning in America (Washington Post, 10/28/16)
Kathleen Parker, opinion writer: Some Senate Republicans have promised to thwart any and all Supreme Court nominations from a President Clinton. This, when they ought to be holding hearings on Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by Obama in March, while there’s still time. Not only would Republicans demonstrate (for a change) that they’re serious about governance, and not just obstruction, but they’d be wise to accept a relatively moderate judge while the option remains.

Supreme Court in limbo with Senate holding key (Editorial) (Republican [Springfield, MA], 10/25/16)
"[T]he highest court in the land remains on hold, at least when it comes to certain cases. Fully seven months after President Barack Obama put forth a successor to Scalia, the nominee, appeals court judge Merrick Garland, remains in limbo. Because Senate Republicans dug in their heels from the first, vowing not to consider any nominee – no matter what – until the next president is sworn in early next year. ... Since Senate Republicans vowed to do nothing to fill the high court's vacancy, we've argued in this space that they are playing a fool's game. Though they may be pleasing the base, a clear majority of the citizenry see them as needlessly obstructionist. If something isn't done, and soon, the Supreme Court will have been operating one justice short for a year or more." But now comes a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee arguing that the Senate should fulfill its constitutional duty during the post-election lame-duck session. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona wants the Senate to move quickly on Garland's nomination. For Republicans, the reasoning is indisputable

Editorial: The perils of our polarized politics (Telegram & Gazette [MA], 10/25/16)
"The death of Antonin Scalia has played a critical role, his vacant seat leaving a divided court on all the hot-button issues. Obama tried to appease Republicans by nominating a 63-year old moderate, Merrick Garland. Liberals would have preferred a younger and more liberal choice; while Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has refused even to hold hearings on Judge Garland because “the American people should have a voice in choosing the next justice,” as if the people had no role in electing Obama to a four-year term in 2012."

Editorial: County ballot issues a mixed bag (Daily Camera [CO] , 10/23/16)
"There is still such a thing as doing your duty, even if you'd rather not. Unfortunately, whether it's Republicans in the U.S. Senate refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee or county commissioners refusing to keep up roads for which they're responsible, ideologues in safe seats don't seem to care much."

EDITORIAL: It’s time for Americans to finally settle on directions in serious policy issues (Waco Tribune-Herald [TX] , 10/23/16)
"Republicans have even said that a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court should be decided by the next president — something that we suggested months ago was a colossal strategic blunder, given that President Obama extended an olive branch by putting forward a moderate, well-qualified, 63-year-old jurist after Justice Antonin Scalia died back in February."

Senate must end nominee nonsense (Standard Speaker [Hazleton, PA], 10/21/16)
Letter to the Editor by Jesse Plaksa: "Confirm Merrick Garland! The Senate continues to play chicken with the lives of the American people by allowing the Supreme Court to be one shy of nine since Antonin Scalia died in February."

My view: Confirm Ronald Russell for the District of Utah (Deseret News [UT] , 10/21/16)
Carl Tobias: "Russell is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of Utah Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Russell on May 19 without dissent. However, the nominee has languished on the floor ever since, principally due to GOP leaders’ refusal to allow his confirmation debate and vote.... Russell and many other highly qualified, moderate nominees have waited months for debates and votes. Sens. Hatch and Lee have requested a swift floor ballot, yet Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the majority leader, has failed to arrange it. Several Democratic senators have sought unanimous consent to vote on many district nominees who need final votes, but Republicans have objected. ... It is past time for the Senate to vote on Ronald Russell."

Our Opinion: Federal courts still stalled by partisanship [Editorial] (Berkshire Eagle [MA] , 10/20/16)
"The spiteful refusal of Senate Republicans to do their constitutional duty and conduct hearings for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee is bad enough, but that high profile vacancy is the tip of the iceberg. Highly qualified Court nominee Merrick Garland is a victim of the Senate majority's dereliction of duty, but there are more than 90 vacancies in the federal judiciary. This puts an extra burden on judges and slows down the wheels of justice, which is a disservice to people whose cases are stalled. The U.S. court system has declared 35 of the vacancies "judicial emergencies," which has made no impression on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his team. The stalling is transparently partisan in nature. In the nearly two years that the Republicans have controlled the Senate, only 22 of President Obama's nominees to the federal courts have been confirmed. In the two years that Democrats controlled the Senate during the administration of Republican George W. Bush, 68 of President Bush's nominees were confirmed.... Following Election Day, it would be an impressive gesture of healing if the Senate reversed that trend and moved ahead to fill these vacancies. That much-needed gesture would also ease logjams in courts from New Jersey to Texas"

Senate should vote on Paradise Baxter (Erie Times-News [PA], 10/19/16)
Carl Tobias, Letter to the Editor: "Paradise Baxter is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the powerful support of Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, a Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Republican. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Paradise Baxter on Jan. 28 without dissent.... The district currently has four vacancies in 10 active judgeships.... Erie, which is where Paradise Baxter would sit and is Pennsylvania’s fourth largest city, currently lacks an active district judge. It is past time for the Senate to vote on Paradise Baxter."

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Keynotes Madison Lawyer Chapter Kick-off Event to Discuss Garland Nomination and Judiciary Crisis (American Constitution Society Blog, 10/14/16)
Jeff Mandell: "Sen. Baldwin spoke powerfully about the stalled nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the judicial vacancy crisis more broadly and the vital need for our country to move forward: “Leaving one seat vacant prevents our highest court from resolving major legal issues. It threatens the integrity of our democracy and the functioning of our constitutional government. It puts at risk the administration of justice across the country. As Justice Kagan said recently, ‘A tie does nobody any good.’ We need nine.”...She also addressed the vacant seat—by tradition designated for a Wisconsin nominee—on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. That vacancy is the longest running opening on the federal appellate bench, having been open since January 2010. ... And she detailed the procedural delays that have kept President Obama’s nomination of Madison attorney Don Schott from receiving a vote on the floor of the Senate."

Elizabeth Wydra: Justice delayed by GOP inaction on U.S. court nominees  (Morning Call [PA], 10/13/16)
"[T]he Constitution's promise of justice and due process is being undermined by Senate Republicans' abdication of their constitutional duty to advise and consent on judicial nominations. Despite an increasing number of vacancies since they gained control of the Senate in 2015, Republicans have confirmed just 22 nominees — a record low since the 1950s when the judiciary was half its current size. Federal courts around the country are short a total of almost 100 judges. Pennsylvania alone has six federal trial court vacancies, three of which have existed for over three years. The state is also affected by two vacancies on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania. Sixteen of the total pending nominees have been in the pipeline for over a year, and 35 of the pending vacancies are considered to be "judicial emergencies," which means the courts on which they exist are excessively overburdened. The refusal of Senate Republicans to hold a hearing, much less hold an up-or-down vote, on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is especially egregious"

Former North Carolina governor thinks Senate should have confirmed Obama’s Supreme Court pick (Progressive Pulse [NC], 10/12/16)
Melissa Boughton: "Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin told The Charlotte Observer the Senate should have confirmed President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. He told the newspaper the most important issue to him is the choice of Supreme Court justices.... It’s been 210 days since Obama nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but the Senate has refused to hold hearings. “He’s the most moderate that we’ve got,” Martin told the Observer."

Cotton gets funny in Iowa (Arkansas Times, 10/11/16)
Max Brantley: accompanying Sens. Tom Cotton and Chuck Grassley to town hall meetings ... Cotton is a one-man roadblock to judicial appointees, from the Supreme Court to court of claims, not to mention juvenile justice reform and other useful work. So he's to give Grassley cover on the Republican blockade of President Obama's qualified and non-controversial Supreme Court appointee Garland."

Commentary: USA Today editorial decries conservative blockade of judicial nominees, highlights NC (Progressive Pulse [NC], 10/11/16)
Rob Schofield: "In case you missed it, there was a fine editorial in USA Today a couple of days back slamming the ongoing blockade of Obama nominees to the federal courts, including the nation’s longest, which — thanks to Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr — is right here in North Carolina."

Commentary: Justice for all, but not this year for the Supreme Court: What is the short-handed U.S. Supreme Court likely to accomplish in its new term? Maybe nothing. (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 10/09/16)
Michael Doyle: "A 4-4 tie, like the court reached four times last year following Scalia’s death, lets a lower appellate decision stand but provides no precedent or national uniformity."

Senate must consider Obama's court nominee | Letter (Express-Times [PA], 10/07/16)
Toni Hoffman: "As the Supreme Court begins its second term without a ninth justice, the American Association of University Women continues to urge the U.S. Senate to rise above the partisan fray and simply do what the Constitution requires — fairly and expeditiously consider the president's nominee."

Confirm Myra Selby for the Seventh Circuit (Indiana Law Journal , 10/07/16)
Prof. Carl W. Tobias: "This Article canvasses Selby’s dynamic professional record, the federal judicial selection process under President Obama, and the Seventh Circuit. It ascertains that Selby is an exceptionally competent, mainstream prospect and that the appellate court requires all of its members to deliver justice. However, Republican senators did not collaborate, particularly after they had captured a Senate majority—a circumstance that this presidential election year aggravates. The last section, therefore, proffers recommendations for Selby’s prompt Senate consideration and confirmation."

[Editorial] Justice delayed: Our view; Gamesmanship on nominees extends well beyond the Supreme Court. (USA Today, 10/06/16)
"The Republican-led Senate sure knows how to make history, but not in a good way. By leaving town Sept. 28 without acting on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, it has left a nominee hanging for an unprecedented six-and-a-half-months without so much as a hearing — and left the Supreme Court limping along one justice short and vulnerable to more tie votes. The foot-dragging extends well beyond the Supreme Court to the rest of the federal judiciary, where more than 50 other Obama nominees await hearings or confirmation votes.... Republicans have extended the typical battles over nominees to the Supreme Court and influential appeals courts down to the trial courts. While these lower courts get less attention than the Supreme Court, they are the places where most people come in contact with the federal court system. Trial courts hear thousands of cases involving ordinary Americans: Entrepreneurs in contract disputes. Consumers targeted for fraud. Individuals arguing they’ve faced discrimination in seeking housing or a job. Yet the Senate adjourned with more than 90 judgeships vacant — more than 10percent of the federal judiciary. That’s the largest number since 1992 ... In the past two years, this Senate has confirmed just 22 of Obama’s nominees. When many seats on the bench are empty and caseloads are heavy, justice is delayed. One seat on the North Carolina trial court has been empty for 11 years. The problem is simple: Senate Republicans are shirking their constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on judicial nominations. Americans deserve enough federal judges to hear their disputes and a Supreme Court with a full complement of nine justices to rule on national issues."

Bill Straub: If you find the present state of American politics deplorable, you have McConnell to thank (KyForward [Lexington, KY], 10/06/16)
"But that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to what McConnell is doing to the judiciary. Everyone is familiar with the case of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s choice to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. McConnell vowed to sit on the nomination, leaving the high court to address crucial issues facing the nation during most of its last term and likely all of the current term without a full complement of justices, leading to a series of 4-4 votes that fail to result in establishing precedents. But the bigger story is his apparent desire to destroy the totality of the federal judiciary. Since Republicans regained the majority in the 114th Congress, the Senate has confirmed a measly 22 judges — the fewest since 1952. As a result, the number of empty judge seats on the district and circuit court levels has doubled to 92 and judicial emergencies – where vacancies are leading to serious problems — have tripled to an outlandish 35. “Right now there are scores of empty judgeships across the country and everyday Americans are being denied justice, and GOP Senate leaders have made it clear that they just don’t care,’’ said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. McConnell, in that lighthearted way of his, dismisses complaints about his handling of judicial appointments by noting that President George W. Bush during his administration got fewer confirmations than Obama – 325 to 327 for Obama to date. That sharp analysis ignores the fact that Obama had more vacancies to fill – 418 to 359 for Bush, leaving Obama with 59 more openings. While Bush got about 91 percent of his judges confirmed, Obama has been limited to 78 percent because of GOP inaction."

Refusal to consider Garland confirmation is political obstructionism [Editorial] (Citizens Voice [Wilkes-Barre, PA], 10/06/16)
By the Editorial Board: "the justices have decided to avoid major, precedent-setting cases until they are at full strength. That, in turn, is a further condemnation of Senate Republicans, who set a new record every day for the amount of time that partisan political obstruction has interfered with the operation of the judicial branch and, specifically, the Supreme Court. ... The Senate previously had confirmed Judge Garland to the nation’s second most powerful court, by a wide margin, and his service on that court makes him even more qualified and worthy of confirmation to the high court. In brazen defiance of their constitutional duty, Senate Republicans lined up behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that they would refuse to conduct the confirmation process for any Obama nominee. Because of that shameful partisanship, the court has been without a full complement of justices for the longest period in its history.... McConnell also has said that he will not consider a nominee until after the next presidential inauguration, but he should change his mind and end the charade that his conduct is anything other than political obstructionism."

Even SCOTUS loathes tie [Editorial] (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 10/06/16)
By the Editorial Board: "the justices have decided to avoid major, precedent-setting cases until they are at full strength. That, in turn, is a further condemnation of Senate Republicans, who set a new record every day for the amount of time that partisan political obstruction has interfered with the operation of the judicial branch and, specifically, the Supreme Court. ... The Senate previously had confirmed Judge Garland to the nation’s second most powerful court, by a wide margin, and his service on that court makes him even more qualified and worthy of confirmation to the high court. In brazen defiance of their constitutional duty, Senate Republicans lined up behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that they would refuse to conduct the confirmation process for any Obama nominee. Because of that shameful partisanship, the court has been without a full complement of justices for the longest period in its history.... McConnell also has said that he will not consider a nominee until after the next presidential inauguration, but he should change his mind and end the charade that his conduct is anything other than political obstructionism."

Perfect storm on climate [Editorial] (Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald [PA], 10/06/16)
"[S]ince Senate Republicans have refused to carry out their own constitutional duty by declining to conduct a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, the D.C. appellate decision could be definitive because the Supreme Court might deadlock, 4-4, on a further appeal."

Bill Straub: If you find the present state of American politics deplorable, you have McConnell to thank (Northern Kentucky Tribune, 10/06/16)
"But that’s only a drop in the bucket compared to what McConnell is doing to the judiciary. Everyone is familiar with the case of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s choice to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. McConnell vowed to sit on the nomination, leaving the high court to address crucial issues facing the nation during most of its last term and likely all of the current term without a full complement of justices, leading to a series of 4-4 votes that fail to result in establishing precedents. But the bigger story is his apparent desire to destroy the totality of the federal judiciary. Since Republicans regained the majority in the 114th Congress, the Senate has confirmed a measly 22 judges — the fewest since 1952. As a result, the number of empty judge seats on the district and circuit court levels has doubled to 92 and judicial emergencies – where vacancies are leading to serious problems — have tripled to an outlandish 35. “Right now there are scores of empty judgeships across the country and everyday Americans are being denied justice, and GOP Senate leaders have made it clear that they just don’t care,’’ said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. McConnell, in that lighthearted way of his, dismisses complaints about his handling of judicial appointments by noting that President George W. Bush during his administration got fewer confirmations than Obama – 325 to 327 for Obama to date. That sharp analysis ignores the fact that Obama had more vacancies to fill – 418 to 359 for Bush, leaving Obama with 59 more openings. While Bush got about 91 percent of his judges confirmed, Obama has been limited to 78 percent because of GOP inaction."

Editorial: The harm of short-handed Supreme Court (Chicago Sun Times, 10/06/16)
"Don’t believe anybody who says the refusal of Senate Republicans to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court has done no harm. Harm is being done every day to millions of undocumented immigrants who live in continued fear of immediate deportation because the short-handed court has been unable to deliver a definitive ruling on a key Obama executive order.... Harm also may be done, ironically, to the agenda of the Republican Party, which should have jumped at a good deal when they could. Short-sighted Senate Republicans have refused for seven months to consider the credentials of Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s safely moderate nominee"

Congress is a dysfunctional mess [Editorial] (Burlington County Times [Willingboro, NJ], 10/05/16)
"Congress is a dysfunctional mess. ... As far as doing the people's business, well, a kind assessment is that Congress is a hit-and-miss outfit, with far more of the latter than the former.... Among the issues coming and/or returning in 2017: the budget, the debt ceiling, a failing health care system under the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court vacancy or vacancies, ... and on and on. At a time when the art of compromise is so desperately needed in the nation's capital, there's little reason to believe we'll be witness to anything other than greater partisanship and dissension. Congress gets another failing grade for 2016. It's another failure that hurts America."