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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Tester sided with 75% of Montanans on Gorsuch vote (Independent Record [MT], 04/10/17)
Evan Barrett, Guest Opinion: Tester said he believed that Gorsuch supports the massive intrusion of corporations into our election processes, a political disaster that has allowed almost unmeasurable corporate influence since the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision was handed down. That Supreme Court decision effectively made corporations “citizens” and ruled that their money was Constitutional “free speech.” Senator Tester’s opposition to Gorsuch based on these concerns was consistent with the position held by 75 percent of Montanans when they voted on those very questions on a ballot issue election here in 2012.

Gorsuch is the face of the new not-normal (CNN, 04/10/17)
Rachel Sklar: when things are not normal, you cannot behave as though they are. That is why Senate Democrats were right to filibuster the nomination and reject it -- by 44 votes, which meant that Gorsuch failed to meet the 60-vote threshold to win the nomination. That threshold no longer exists. Senator Mitch McConnell, predictably, led a GOP vote to change it to a simple majority confirming their nominee to the court.... "not crazy" should not be the new definition for "normal."... This was never his seat. ... there is also a scandal looming over the legitimacy of the President who nominated him: very real, very serious accusations about Russia's meddling in the US election, and the many questions about who on Donald Trump's team may have known or been involved. ... Gorsuch's far-right record ... He didn't actually say much ... Follow the Dark Money ... Things left unexplored ... Gorsuch was not actually "confirmed"

‘Nuclear option’ is short-sighted (Albuquerque Journal [NM], 04/10/17)
Matthew C. Simpson, Guest Column: It’s a decision that Republican senators will likely regret. So will we. ... When the filibuster rule was in place, presidents knew that their Supreme Court nominees must win at least some support from the opposite side as insurance against a filibuster. This knowledge forced them to nominate middle-of-the-road judges who could gain basic acceptance from both parties. ... It was short-sighted to change the rules in this way.

Gorsuch’s Dark-Money Benefactor Attended His White House Swearing-In Ceremony (, 04/10/17)
Mark Joseph Stern: Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was made possible in part by the Judicial Crisis Network, which spent $17 million lobbying to keep Merrick Garland off the bench—and to get Gorsuch on it. Where did all that money come from? We don’t know, because it was almost entirely dark money, funneled through a Koch-allied conduit that keeps its donors secret. But the JCN isn’t entirely anonymous: It has a public face in Carrie Severino ... Severino’s presence at Monday’s ceremony serves as a startling reminder that Gorsuch’s path to the Supreme Court was facilitated by dark money. The JCN is kept afloat by one donor, the Wellspring Committee, which is in turn funded primarily by one single anonymous donor. Wellspring is little more than a dark-money conduit

WATCH: Trump’s judicial legacy will go much further than Neil Gorsuch: He has over one hundred seats to fill across the U.S. (Think Progress, 04/10/17)
Katelyn Marmon: Trump has more than a hundred other federal judicial vacancies to fill across the United States, an unprecedented number that is the result of GOP obstructionism in the Senate in Obama’s last two years in office. Facing more judicial vacancies than any other president entering office, Trump has the opportunity to change the make-up of the nation’s federal courts for generations.

Politics Analysis The Senate may be developing an electoral college issue (Washington Post, 04/10/17)
Philip Bump: Last week, the Republican majority changed the rules of the filibuster to allow confirmation of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, several years after Democrats, frustrated at not being able to approve judges of their own, changed the rules on Republicans. Those moves, coupled with the fervently partisan moment on Capitol Hill, has meant a much-less-congenial Senate — and a Senate that, by one metric, is closer to allowing outright minority rule.... the Gorsuch nomination had support of senators representing 56.5 percent of the population, counting either senator’s support as reflecting the entire population of the state — or 44.4 percent of the population on our relative metric. If you consider that latter metric a better reflection of reality, it puts Gorsuch into an unusual position: Earning a successful nomination to the bench despite his earning less than half of the support of the country — and appointed by a president who was similarly successful, thanks to the electoral college.

Editorial: Gorsuch approved, but at what cost? (Record [NJ] , 04/09/17)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell elected to exercise the so-called “nuclear option,” to change Senate rules so as to pave the way for a straight up-or-down, simple majority vote on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. The move, after Senate Democrats had chosen to filibuster, and require the majority Republicans to secure 41 votes in order to move Gorsuch’s name forward, signaled a departure from long-held tradition, and could be a sign of a more partisan rancor in days to come. The development was disheartening on many levels, because the Senate once was considered the congressional chamber where common sense ultimately held sway, where tempers and egos were checked, or at least restrained, to protect the institution.... in reality, we all lost .... many court observers from both ends of the spectrum believe the end result will be a much more political Supreme Court, with the potential for more future nominees with extremist views."

[Editorial] Our View: Politics put Gorsuch on court (Daily Nonpareil [Council Bluffs, IA], 04/09/17)
"The final confirmation vote came after Senate Republicans rewrote the chamber’s rules, voting to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold on Supreme Court nominees. The change allowed the Senate to proceed to the final vote with a simple majority. With that move, dubbed the “nuclear option,” Republicans ensured the ruling party in the Senate will always have the final say on a Supreme Court pick.... Merrick Garland’s nomination should have been debated by the Senate. Absent a skeleton in his closet being discovered, Garland should have been the new Supreme Court justice, not Gorsuch.... Grassley, chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee, blocked a committee vote on the nomination and the debate on Garland never reached the Senate floor. Republican leaders said they wanted voters to decide on the court seat in the November election. Of course, there was an election before that, when in 2012 voters chose another four years of Obama.... The election year argument just doesn’t hold water. ... Grassley was wrong. So were those who followed his lead."

[Editorial] Mitch McConnell, 1 Senate, 0 (Frederick News-Post [MD], 04/09/17)
"The senior Republican senator from Kentucky made good on his word when he authorized a move to end Senate Democrats’ filibuster of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week, effectively detonating the dreaded “nuclear option,” which required only a simple majority to approve Gorsuch’s appointment to the high court.... When Reid invoked the nuclear option, he did so because McConnell was leading the charge to filibuster even low-level appointments by Obama.... by giving up the filibuster on this case, McConnell has given away one of his best defenses against executive branch excess.... all sides agree, the biggest loser this time around is neither Democrats nor Republicans — it’s the U.S. Senate."

Judge Gorsuch favors corporate goliaths over small businesses (The Hill, 04/09/17)
Amanda Ballantyne, Main Street Alliance: A closer look at his record suggests some bad news for the "mom and pop" shops struggling to get by; Judge Gorsuch is not their friend. Time and again, he’s favored corporations at the expense of small business owners, their employees and their customers. ... First, Judge Gorsuch could undermine regulations that protect small business owners.... Judge Gorsuch has shown a clear disdain for environmental regulations and has actively worked to weaken them. Weaker environmental regulations, however, jeopardize small businesses’ ability to operate, their security in the future and the confidence of their customers. Second, Judge Gorsuch has a strong record of corporate favoritism. This stacks the deck even further against small businesses

SCOTUS: Republicans did it first; Readers write: Letters to the editor, April 9, 2017 (Alaska Dispatch News, 04/09/17)
Robert Atkinson: The plan to do away with the filibuster so that Republicans could promote Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court with just 51 votes was preceded last year by Majority Leader McConnell's decision to obstruct even holding hearings for President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland. That action by McConnell was unprecedented in our history, as all 14 other nominees appointed in the last year of a president's term were voted on and passed. Sen. Lisa Murkowski had to come up with four completely different excuses to justify her loyalty to McConnell's "nuclear option," so bad was the ploy to keep Judge Garland from even having hearings .... So let's just give up on any pretense that the "nuclear option" will be triggered by a filibuster of quite-right-leaning nominee Gorsuch. That gambit was already played when Republicans refused to even meet and greet the last president's nominee starting last February.

Editorial: McConnell’s cynical plan pays off (Kokomo Tribune [IN] , 04/09/17)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, broke two longstanding American political traditions during the last 13 months, and it will pay off for decades to come. The first attack on the rules began shortly after Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died Feb. 13, 2016. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland .... Though many Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore of the Senate, had spoken highly of Garland just days before, there his nomination sat, untouched for 293 days.... The second custom to fall came after the newly minted Republican President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch .... McConnell and the GOP implemented the “nuclear option” for Supreme Court nominees for the first time. This meant that these appointments would no longer require a 60-vote supermajority to be confirmed, but instead a simple majority. And, with that, Gorsuch, not Garland, was confirmed .... Taken together, these moves represented the culmination of an incredibly cynical, and ultimately successful, plan by McConnell and the Republicans. ... Time will tell if the GOP will regret busting these norms. ... But, for now, they’ve played dirty pool and won."

Republicans Made High Court a Partisan Battleground (Jost on Justice: Law & Justice Blog, 04/09/17)
Kenneth Jost: The blame starts, however, with Richard Nixon, who turned the Supreme Court into a partisan battleground as part of the divisive campaign he waged for the presidency in 1968. He was the first of what are now five Republican presidents who have pushed the ideological envelope with appointments that have given the high court a seemingly permanent conservative orientation.... President Trump’s outsourcing of the Supreme Court nomination to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation carries the conservative politicization of the court one significant step further. Neil Gorsuch may not have been the most conservative judge on Trump’s list of 21 candidates, but he has a deserved reputation as a reliable conservative and revealed himself as such through his calculated silences in his confirmation hearing.... it is the conservative justices today who have an activist ideological agenda, not the liberal bloc. Gorsuch's calls to make it easier to overrule administrative agencies or harder to regulate political campaign contributions point him toward the Thomas-Alito alliance that views many liberal precedents as ripe for reversal.

Letter: Gorsuch’s is a stolen seat (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/08/17)
J. Scott Coatsworth: Sen. Mitch McConnell chose to block President Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy during Obama’s term in office. This action was unprecedented, and done for purely political purposes. This was a stolen seat.

Letter: Nuclear option works both ways (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/08/17)
Gary Miller: The Republicans blame the Democrats for filibustering a Supreme Court justice who sides with corporations over people. In fact, the biggest filibuster was when the Republicans refused to even give Judge Garland a hearing because he was nominated by a black man.

Tester takes courageous stand for Montana values (Billings Gazette [MT,WY], 04/08/17)
James C. Nelson, retired Montana Supreme Court justice, Letter to the Editor: In 2012 the people of Montana, by a super-majority, adopted CI-166, (13-35-501-504), which requires this state’s Congressional delegation to support the adoption of a Constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous 2010 decision in Citizens United and to restrict our constitutional rights to natural human beings. Only one member of Montana’s delegation, Sen. Jon Tester, has complied with this law. ... Dark money organizations funded by the super wealthy (e.g. the Koch Brothers and those who profess that soulless corporations have the same fundamental rights as natural human beings) launched at multi-million-dollar campaign to pressure, among others, Tester, to cast an affirmative vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. But Tester was not intimidated. Tester announced his decision to vote against Judge Gorsuch, because of the nominee’s judicial record supporting giving corporations even more political power than even Citizens United allowed, his record giving some corporations the right to practice religion, and his abysmal record on women’s rights issues.

Letter: Taking long view on Gorsuch (Sacramento Bee [CA] , 04/08/17)
Lindy TIllement: This was about a stolen seat, and whether the GOP or any party can get away with an unprecedented partisan tactic in which they refused – for almost a year – to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, then tried to ram through Gorsuch’s nomination on a fast-track after an election whose legitimacy is in question. This also was about a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, possibly for decades, and some checks and balances on a right-wing Congress and administration.

Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 04/08/17)
"Thumbs down to the "nuclear option." Republicans in the U.S. Senate dropped that parliamentary firestorm this week after Democrats vowed to block Judge Neil Gorsuch from the Supreme Court. The Democratic filibuster strategy dared Republicans to toss aside decades of precedent that required 60 votes to move on a Supreme Court nominee. The Senate has traditionally been the home of bipartisan compromise.... senators from both sides of the aisle lamented this week's upheaval. And that's because it's another step toward turning the Senate into just another destructively partisan legislative body."

Letter to the editor: Senate has lost its mind (Post Register [ID], 04/08/17)
Shelton Beach: The U.S. Senate has lost its mind. The “nuclear” option has been invoked. The rules of the Senate have been changed, likely forever. Mitch McConnell portrayed himself as having no other option. Well, there was an option; the one that has always been used in the Senate. If a nominee for the Supreme Court cannot garner 60 votes that nominee steps aside and a new nominee is selected; one that can receive bipartisan support. Of course, Mitch McConnell has placed the blame for his “going nuclear” on the Democrats. It’s never his doing. It’s not his fault that he withheld hearings and a vote on Merrick Garland. ... This change of rules virtually assures that only extreme, partisan justices will be appointed and that the minority party will have absolutely no input into the confirmation process.

Concerned by Senate Republicans using “nuclear option” (Denver Post [CO] , 04/07/17)
Marion Sills, Letter to the Editor: I am gravely concerned by the Senate’s action to support the rule change known as the “nuclear option.” The 60-vote threshold for confirming a Supreme Court justice was an important provision to ensure the selection of a consensus candidate who could win support from both sides of the aisle. By lowering the vote threshold to a bare majority to confirm a right-wing, anti-woman, anti-labor Supreme Court Justice to the seat stolen from Obama nominee Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans have opened the door for unprecedented partisanship in the Supreme Court justice selection process.

Justice Gorsuch Ushers In a New Era (Bloomberg News, 04/07/17)
Prof. Noah Feldman: The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch after the rejection of Merrick Garland marks the new high-water mark in the overt, partisan politicization of the U.S. Supreme Court. After the Democratic Senate rejected Bork 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan got to choose another appointee. After the Republican Senate refused to vote on Garland last year, President Barack Obama was denied the same chance.... I fully expect that, for the foreseeable future, if the president and the Senate majority don’t come from the same party, there will be no confirmations at all.

Judge Gorsuch's strict 'originalism' puts justice itself at stake (The Hill, 04/07/17)
Ken Levy: if the ratifiers' understanding of cruel and unusual applied only to physical suffering, not purely psychological suffering, then the question of whether 90 days of solitary confinement for simple battery is cruel and unusual admits of two possible answers: (a) a backward-looking originalist interpretation with an unjust result and (b) a forward-looking pragmatic interpretation with a just result.... my point, which I develop more fully in "Why the Late Justice Scalia Was Wrong: The Fallacies of Constitutional Textualism," was that textualism contradicts itself. While it says that we shouldn't make any assumptions that are not explicitly stated in the Constitution, this assumption itself is not explicitly stated in the Constitution.

April 7 Letter: Gorsuch should withdraw his name from consideration (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 04/07/17)
Raúl Martinez: If Judge Neil Gorsuch had any integrity and self-respect, he would withdraw from consideration for the Supreme Court and condemn the GOP tactics that got him there. If he doesn’t, his tenure on the court will be forever tainted.

Letter: A stolen seat (Brattleboro Reformer [VT], 04/07/17)
Barry Bozetarnik: Neil Gorsuch should not have been confirmed.... since early 2016, there was a nominee to fill this position, Merrick Garland. ... Garland wasn't even granted the courtesy, the constitutional right to a hearing and a vote.a

Why Republicans May Regret The Nuclear Option: Here are three big reasons why Sen. Mitch McConnell may wish he took his own advice. (Politico, 04/07/17)
Bill Scher: 1. Demands to end the legislative filibuster will only get louder... 2. No one knows who will own the next round of nominees ... 3. The next round of Democratic judges may be more notorious than Notorious RBG

Marc Perkel: It’s Garland’s seat (Vallejo Times-Herald [CA], 04/07/17)
Letter to the Editor: Democrats are right to filibuster [Gorsuch] for the Supreme Court because Merrick Garland, appointed by President Obama is the next nominee.

Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America (Washington Post, 04/07/17)
Dana Milbank: That McConnell did a 180 on the topic — going from the institutional defender of the filibuster to the man who destroyed it — is unsurprising. He has frequently shifted his views to suit the needs of the moment.... That McConnell did a 180 on the topic — going from the institutional defender of the filibuster to the man who destroyed it — is unsurprising. He has frequently shifted his views to suit the needs of the moment.... By 2013, for example, 79 of Obama’s nominees had been blocked by filibusters, compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic. After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was confirmed last year, it took McConnell less than an hour to say that the vacancy should be filled by the next president.

A Toxic Threat to Justice: Democrats must stop the GOP's Supreme Court salvo from also poisoning lower courts. (U.S. News & World Report, 04/07/17)
Nan Aron, Alliance for Justice: Senate Republicans deploying the so-called nuclear option to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch marks a sad day in history not only for the Senate, but also for justice.,,, Thanks in large part to GOP stonewalling of judicial nominees under Barack Obama, President Donald Trump already has a whopping 120 lower-court vacancies to fill, 19 on circuit courts. His administration has made clear it intends to appoint younger, conservative ideologues with many years to serve, and to jettison the role of the American Bar Association in evaluating candidates for the bench.... With a fired-up base, Senate Democrats have every reason to prioritize circuit court nominations now. They should insist the president avoid nominating judges whose philosophies are extreme.... The "blue-slip" process is a venerable tradition that gives home-state senators power to say whether nominees from their states will advance. Such tactics should not be abused, but they exist.... Obama regularly consulted with Republican senators on finding the best-qualified judicial nominees.

Dark Justice: Gorsuch’s billionaire backers know what they are getting, and the American people should too (Huffington Post, 04/06/17)
Arn Pearson, People For the American Way: Judge Neil Gorsuch played a masterful game of hide-the-ball during his confirmation hearings .... Judge Gorsuch authored seven dissents in 2016 .... Those cases, along with his lengthy 2016 concurrence in Gutierrez v. Lynch—where he laid out his case for rolling back “Chevron” deference to government agency rules—let Gorsuch check off most of the boxes on the Right’s checklist for a Supreme Court nominee. ... Senate Republicans, backed by some very powerful special interests, blockaded Garland and are getting ready ram through Gorsuch, even if it takes a dramatic Senate rules change to do it. They know perfectly well why, and American voters deserve to know too.

Bill Price: Sens. Manchin, Capito should vote no on Gorsuch (Gazette) (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 04/06/17)
Bill Price, Sierra Club: Judge Gorsuch appears to be as hostile to citizen enforcement as Scalia, if not more so. On three separate occasions, he has denied access to the courts for environmental groups to federal courts, relying on cramped views of what it takes to establish access to the federal courts. He has written about his disdain for public interest litigation, a dangerous view of the environmental laws that have safeguarded this country’s air, water and wilderness from devastating harms.