Editorials and Opinion
EDITORIAL: Congress just can’t get its act together on anything except discord (Miami Herald, 06/23/16)
"Where’s a ninth Supreme Court justice when you need one? There is little doubt if the late Justice Antonin Scalia had voted, a 5-4 vote would have been a simple, declarative ruling, likely finding the president’s action unconstitutional. Of course, the result might have been the same if Senate Republicans had done the responsible thing and held hearings and a vote on Mr. Obama’s eminently qualified nominee, Merrick Garland. But their leaders have refused, to their shame.
▪ With the Supreme Court’s majority obviously in play, voters this year will have a huge say in its direction"
Mercury News editorial: Immigration ruling hard on Silicon Valley families (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 06/23/16)
"Thursday's non-decision by a paralyzed U.S. Supreme Court on President Obama's immigration policy reflects congressional failure on two levels.
One is Senate Republicans' refusal to even vote on Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. The vacant seat leaves the court doomed to tie votes on divisive issues that should be resolved either way.... it's no way to run a three-branch system of government."
Editorial: Immigrants End Up in Limbo (La Opinión, 06/23/16)
"Such is the result of the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock caused by Antonin Scalia’s death and by the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to consider the judge nominated by the White House to occupy his seat. Thus, the dispute ends without resolution regarding whether the president’s decision to place dangerous undocumented people at the top of the priority list and take other immigrants out of it exceeds his powers."
This Is Precisely the Right Time for the Senate to Consider Judge Garland’s Supreme Court Nomination: The American Bar Association has given President Obama’s pick its highest rating. (Nation, 06/22/16)
John Nichols: "ABA President Paulette Brown said Tuesday, “It is now imperative that the Senate fulfills its constitutional responsibilities to consider and act promptly on the Supreme Court nominee.”... Democratic and Republican presidents have frequently made Supreme Court nominations in presidential election years, and senators have frequently upheld their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent in those election years. Precedent is on the side of action on the nomination of Obama’s pick. When Mitch McConnell argues otherwise, he is spinning a partisan fantasy.
In the real world, the Senate acts, even when it is not easy.
And it was not easy 100 years ago.... Two Supreme Court justices were nominated, considered, and confirmed in a presidential election year—one of them replacing the nominee of the Republican Party for president. "
What Republicans' Obstruction Costs Them (Bloomberg News, 06/22/16)
Jonathan Bernstein: "normal opposition includes at least the possibility, and sometimes the reality, of cutting deals giving both sides something. And it has never in the past precluded a certain amount of government business getting done.... Republicans have routinely filibustered against (or, under Republican majorities, simply refused to consider) the confirmation of district court judges, even when Obama’s nominees are not controversial at all."
Letter: Encourage Sen. Grassley’s Court [nomination] (Ames Tribune [IA], 06/22/16)
Gordon Lundberg: "As a volunteer with the League of Conservation Voters, I am encouraged that their Iowa Climate Action staff met with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s staff in Washington, D.C., last week to discuss the fact that he refuses to proceed with a vote on the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
L.C.V.’s interest in having a full and functioning Supreme Court relates to the fact that it will be hearing arguments next year regarding the “Clean Power Plan.” Judge Garland would respect the role of scientists in that discussion.
Iowans, please encourage Sen. Grassley to hold a Supreme Court nomination hearing as he is elected to do."
As I see it: Who's (left) to judge? (Telegram & Gazette [MA], 06/22/16)
Thomas Tobin: "The well-publicized vacancy on the Supreme Court isn’t the only one facing the federal judiciary. Right here in Massachusetts, the retirement of Judge Douglas Woodlock has left a vacant seat on the state’s federal district court. ... The Senate has been mulling over his proposed replacement, Inga Bernstein, for over 300 days and counting.... While Inga Bernstein and another 59 nominees across the country await further action by the U.S. Senate, judicial vacancies have myriad real-world consequences. The fact that there are a total of 89 judicial vacancies to the federal bench is indicative of the gridlock .... In one jurisdiction, North Carolina, there's a judicial vacancy that's been open for more than a decade.... Professor Carl Tobias found that judicial vacancies undermine the ability of the federal courts to provide “expeditious, inexpensive, and fair case resolution.” Put simply, vacancies in the federal judiciary “erode justice.”
Fewer judges mean that available resources are further constrained, especially that of arguably the scarcest resource of all -- time. In thirty jurisdictions across the country, dockets are so backlogged that they have been declared judicial emergencies.... more than 10 percent of more than 800 lifetime-appointment judicial posts within the federal judiciary are currently unfilled."
Editor's Notebook: Grassley must agree: The Supreme Court says we can ban assault rifles (Storm Lake Times [IA], 06/22/16)
Art Cullen: "The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to hear an appeal of state laws banning military-style assault rifles. That means that bans in New York and Connecticut may stand, because the Supreme Court can’t decide much of anything these days. It is deadlocked between four liberal justices and four judicial activists posing as conservatives. Grassley refuses to give a hearing to President Obama’s nominee, whose judicial record looks more like John Roberts’ than Thurgood Marshall’s.
So the reason that the assault weapons bans will stand is because of Chuck Grassley and no one else. Garland could have voted his way."
Letter: Don't let politics stand in way of Justice Garland (Dispatch [Moline, IL], 06/22/16)
Rick Sundin Jr.: "By arrogantly refusing to even consider Judge Merrick Garland, our high court has only eight members. Tie votes have already happened and seriously limit the court's effectiveness.“But until now only six presidents since 1900 had outstanding court vacancies in an election year, and in every case the vacancy was filled” (Eugene Kiely).... There is no rational reason that the U.S. Senate should not be doing advise and consent now and conscientiously try to fill the high court vacancy -- just like those previous presidents."
Supreme Court Breakfast Table Entry 2: Wither the full court. (Slate.com, 06/22/16)
Dawn Johnsen: "Senate Republicans’ refusal even to provide Judge Merrick Garland a hearing is an unprecedented shirking of a vital constitutional duty .... blocking an enormously qualified, noncontroversial Supreme Court nominee.... we should not be suffering these effects of a Supreme Court (and lower courts) diminished in numbers. And if we fail to keep the issue front and center, our collective passivity will prolong the harms to the proper functioning of our independent judiciary and thus the American people."
The Republicans and Court Vacancies (New York Times, 06/22/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias, Letter to the Editor: "“The Senate’s Confirmation Shutdown” (editorial, June 9) is exactly right. The Republican Senate majority’s inaction has perpetuated and worsened the lower federal court vacancy crisis.
The sharp contrast between the number of President George W. Bush’s 68 circuit and district nominees whom the Democratic majority helped confirm in 2007-08 and the number of President Obama’s 18 circuit and district nominees whom the Republican majority has confirmed since 2015 is compelling. Those data show the absurdity of Republicans’ claim that they have restored the Senate to “regular order.”
The G.O.P. must promptly discharge its constitutional responsibility for advising and consenting on the president’s nominees. Indeed, the Senate could confirm the one circuit and 18 district well-qualified, mainstream nominees awaiting final votes in 30 minutes."
Senate Must Do Its Job (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 06/21/16)
Ben Valdez, Letter to the Editor: "It's been nearly 100 days since Obama first nominated Garland and yet nothing has happened in the Senate. I call on Ron Johnson to do his job and help ensure we have a hearing for this nominee."
The glaring omission in the New York Times’ gun debate coverage; The Grey Lady downplays Congress' chances of passing reform with nary a mention of the GOP's radical obstructionism (Salon.com, 06/21/16)
Eric Boehlert: "Today’s Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. We saw it with the GOP’s gun law obstruction, the Violence Against Women Act obstruction, the sequester obstruction, Supreme Court obstruction, minimum wage obstruction, 9/11 first responder obstruction, government shutdown obstruction, immigration reform obstruction, Chuck Hagel’s confirmation obstruction, Susan Rice secretary of state obstruction, paid leave obstruction, Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstruction, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act obstruction, and the consistent obstruction of judicial nominees." [Link to each]
Statement from White House Counsel Neil Eggleston on the ABA’s Evaluation of Chief Judge Merrick Garland (The White House, 06/21/16)
"Today, the American Bar Association gave its highest possible rating to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, assessing him as unanimously well-qualified and affirming he has the experience and character to serve on the United States Supreme Court. ... The President nominated Chief Judge Garland 97 days ago - and given that the average time from nomination to confirmation is 67 days, there is no question that the Senate has abdicated its responsibility under the U.S. Constitution. Filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court is a solemn responsibility that the President and the Senate share under the Constitution, and we call on the Senate to do its job and consider Chief Judge Garland's nomination."
Why the Senate Should Vote on Merrick Garland’s Nomination Now: A 4-4 split means that there is no uniform rule of law. (Fortune, 06/21/16)
Mark Kende: "Chuck Grassley, a U.S. senator from Iowa, has been undermining separation of powers and obstructing American democracy for over 80 days. By refusing to hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to a vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat, Senator Grassley has essentially shut down part of the government, diminishing the judiciary and the president at the same time. He should reverse course.... Senator Grassley is ignoring a federal law, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1, that specifies the U.S. Supreme Court shall have nine members. ... In addition, he has undermined democracy by not letting the president carry out his constitutional appointment obligation. ... Unfortunately, Senator Grassley is following close to the example of Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt who tried to manipulate the Court’s numbers for political reasons."
Statement of ABA President Paulette Brown Re: Evaluation of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (American Bar Association, 06/21/16)
"The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which is independent of the ABA’s policy-making and governing entities, has finished its intensive peer review of the qualifications of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and has rated him “Well Qualified.”
It is now imperative that the Senate fulfills its constitutional responsibilities to consider and act promptly on the Supreme Court nominee.... While the Court continues to function, its 4-4 decisions do not establish precedent and leave open questions on issues that are vital to the lives of everyday people. The prospect of a deadlock also will result in more cases being returned unresolved to lower courts. Cases with controversial issues that need a decision will more likely be avoided by the court. The confirmation process must therefore continue to proceed with all deliberate speed.
In addition to the Supreme Court seat, there are 83 current vacancies on the Courts of Appeals, District Courts and the Court of International Trade. Our nation is disadvantaged when the federal judiciary does not have enough judges to hear cases and resolve disputes in a thorough and timely fashion."
United States Supreme Court Must Be Fully Staffed (WomensRadio [NV], 06/20/16)
Annette Magnus: Executive Director, Battle Born Progress: "Senators Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell are holding the judicial branch of our government hostage, and it’s time for Dean Heller to pressure them to step up and do their job.
Americans want and deserve to have a fully-staffed Supreme Court. There is too much at stake for the Court to be held hostage by GOP Senators refusing to do their job and hold hearings for a Supreme Court nominee.
If obstructionist Senators get their way, the seat could sit vacant for more than a year, damaging the Court and its ability to effectively rule.
Article II of the Constitution provides that the President “shall have [the] power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,” to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. There’s no exception for election years."
Tom Cotton’s Despicable Admission: The Cassandra Butts Vote (Peacock Panache, 06/20/16)
Sheila Kennedy: "Cotton has been one of the Republican Senators refusing to act on judicial vacancies–from the Supreme Court down to the District Court level–simply because Obama is President.
It’s bad enough that the federal courts are so understaffed that Americans are being denied access to justice. But according to several news reports, Cotton isn’t just participating in the GOP’s willingness to indulge partisan spite at the expense of the common good. He’s twisting the knife.
Consider, for example, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni’s report on Cassandra Butts’ nomination to serve as the United States ambassador to the Bahamas."
Commentary: Action needed on federal judges (Greenville [SC] News, 06/20/16)
Tommy Tobin, Guest Columnist: "Is the chief justice elect of the South Carolina Supreme Court qualified to be a judge? The answer should be an obvious yes, however it has lingered unanswered for more than three months in the U.S. Senate. South Carolina’s Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham have yet to weigh in on Chief Justice-elect Donald W. Beatty’s fitness as a federal judicial nominee.... The American Bar Association (ABA) rated Beatty as unanimously well qualified to fill the post that has been vacant for nearly three years. Chief Justice Beatty is not the only South Carolina judicial nominee currently awaiting our Senators’ assessment. Spartanburg’s Donald C. Coggins Jr. was also nominated in February. ... Currently, federal judges in the District of South Carolina have weighted case loads of over 500 cases per judge. The dockets are so jammed that the District, which encompasses the entire state, has been declared a judicial emergency.... The U.S. Supreme Court is missing a ninth Justice. The current nominee, Merrick Garland, is facing a blockade in the Senate.... our federal judiciary is facing 90 vacancies, which represents approximately 10 percent of all judicial posts. South Carolina’s senators can and should take action to remedy the situation here in our state’s federal court system. As reported elsewhere, Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and expert on judicial appointments, noted that the two open seats in our states could be filled later this year if Senators Graham and Scott agree to support their nominations.... the Senate has made it harder for the judiciary to do its job and skillfully administer justice. The Senate and especially Sens. Graham and Scott should evaluate judicial nominees on whether they are well qualified for their positions rather than the politics of the moment."
EDITORIAL: Enough Delays – Senator Johnson Do Your Job (Milwaukee Courier [WI], 06/18/16)
"For many, it wasn’t a surprise that days after Scalia’s death, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the next president, who won’t be elected until November and sworn-in until January, should nominate a successor to fill the vacancy, not President Obama – even though it’s his Constitutional duty to do so.
Many African Americans see this current wave of opposition from Republicans as much deeper than political party lines.
Looking at the blatant choices from Senate Republicans to block moving forward with the confirmation process of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, it’s easy to see that this latest attempt to strip President Obama of his power is not just politics as usual.... Senator Ron Johnson must do his job. He cannot be allowed to sit back and block the President’s Supreme Court nominee. It’s only right that President Obama be given the opportunity to fulfill his Constitutional duties without the Senate continuing to block everything he does, like they’ve done for the last 8 years."
Commentary: Judicial branch has been under GOP assault for years (Northern Virginia Daily, 06/17/16)
Steve Foreman: "We have Senate Republicans who are currently denying the president’s constitutional right to nominate Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy under the fallacy that Obama is too far along in his term to nominate a replacement.... There is a backlog of federal, district and circuit courts judgeships left unfilled because Republicans refuse to approve them. ... If fulfilling their constitutional duty by doing their jobs was a priority for the Senate Republicans, we would not have the polarization and politicization of the judiciary that we now have and less of a logjam in the federal courts."
Tell Johnson ‘do your job’ (Superior Telegram [WI], 06/17/16)
Joyce Luedke, Letter to the Editor: " The Senate has a constitutional duty to hold hearings and to "advise" and "consent" after the president has nominated a qualified person to fill a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.... The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has joined other newspapers around the country stating: Ron Johnson and his fellow Republicans need to do their job and give the nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing.
Johnson is clearly going against the will of the people by refusing to do his job.
It is our duty as Ron Johnson’s "employers" to tell him: "Do your job!""
A job to do (Centre Daily Times [State College, PA], 06/17/16)
Patrick Stickney, Letter to the Editor: "the Constitution ... contains 18 words, in particular, that Pat Toomey has chosen to ignore.... By keeping Judge Merrick Garland in limbo, by washing his hands of the process after holding a meeting with the judge — by not calling for the Senate to hold any hearings or vote on the nomination, the senator is deviating from the principles inherent to the Constitution he swore to support and defend."
Mark H. Werner: Supreme Court nominee deserves a hearing (Gainesville Sun [FL], 06/16/16)
Op-Ed: "Judge Merrick Garland is an earnest and thoughtful individual whose distinguished career shows that he could be a great Supreme Court justice. His nomination
deserves a prompt hearing to keep our Constitution strong."
Carl Tobias: Senate should confirm Robert Rossiter for federal judgeship (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 06/16/16)
Prof. Tobias Op-Ed: "Rossiter is a well-qualified, mainstream nominee who enjoys the strong support of Republican U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Rossiter Oct. 29 without dissent.... The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has designated Judge Bataillon’s vacancy an emergency ... Chief Judge Laurie Smith Camp has been urging that the Senate move quickly to fill the opening ... she explained: “Nebraska is among eight states having a single federal district and only three authorized judgeships (and recently) ranked first among these districts in its per-judgeship weighted filings, felony caseload, and supervised release hearings (so) the prompt confirmation of Nebraska’s newest federal district judge will be essential to ensure that federal litigation in Nebraska is adjudicated promptly and efficiently.”... Republican leaders have maintained they are returning the Senate to “regular order;” however, Rossiter and many other extremely competent, mainstream nominees have waited interminably for floor debates and votes. Several Democratic senators have requested unanimous consent to vote on Rossiter and 14 remaining district court nominees who need floor votes, but Republicans have objected. It is past time to schedule a debate and vote on Robert Rossiter."
Commentary: A dysfunctional Supreme Court. Get used to it (Reuters, 06/15/16)
BY HERMAN SCHWARTZ AND WILLIAM YEOMANS: "Senate Republicans have become experts in dysfunction. They seem intent on spreading the contagion to the U.S. Supreme Court.... its inability to decide other important issues bring into stark focus the damage that Senate Republicans have inflicted on the court by refusing to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat. ... Though the GOP had virtually declared a halt to confirmation of Obama-nominated judges, the heightened politicization of the Supreme Court still seems stunning."
The Problem With Congress Might Not Be Fixable (Bloomberg News, 06/15/16)
Cass R. Sunstein: "Congress is in the midst of a breakdown in longstanding institutional norms. The latest example is the Senate's refusal to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court -- a refusal that is probably without precedent.... With the Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on Garland, we’ve entered uncharted territory. The GOP would like to say that the norm for which they are speaking is quite narrow: No Supreme Court confirmations in an election year.
But their behavior is fully consistent with a much broader one: If a party can get away with refusing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee chosen by a president of the opposing party, that’s exactly what it will do. If so, appointments to the high court will become mired in the crassest form of partisan politics.... if a president’s judicial nominees are not confirmed, because the opposing party disagrees with their likely votes, federal courts will lack sufficient personnel to proceed expeditiously."