Editorials and Opinion
Another judicial candidate deserves a nomination hearing (WIZM [WI], 07/13/16)
Program Director, Scott Robert Shaw: "The delays in holding nomination hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland have been well documented. Garland was nominated to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia back in March. But the Senate refuses to even hold nomination hearings to consider his credentials, despite the fact that Garland has more federal judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in history. But that delay in holding hearings is nothing compared to the delay in holding hearings for a vacancy on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals which serves Wisconsin. Donald Schott was nominated to fill the vacancy on that court back in January. There should be some sense of urgency on the part of our U.S. Senate to get this post filled. It has been vacant for more than six years, a total of 2400 days and counting. That is despite the fact that Schott's nomination is endorsed by both Wisconsn Senators, and a bipartisan group of former Wisconsin State Bar Presidents. The Senate Judiciary Committee has finally held a hearing and approved the nomination with bipartisan support. But still the Senate is refusing to schedule hearings. Schott deserves a fair shot, and the people of Wisconsin deserve a fully staffed court. Because the courts can't fully do their jobs until our Senators do theirs."
Senate has confirmed enough judges, Tillis says (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 07/13/16)
Editorial writer Doug Clark's blog: "U.S. Senate Democrats tried to push 16 judicial nominees to confirmation this afternoon but were denied by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis.
Tillis objected that the Senate shouldn't be forced to do "things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs"... Which prompted Democrat Elizabeth Warren to question what part of the Constitution says that confirming judges isn't the Senate's job.
Warren was joined by fellow Democrats Chuck Schumer and Mazie Hirono in trying to break a logjam before the Senate goes into its long summer recess.... Schumer pointed out that the number of judicial vacancies is much greater than those a Democratic Senate left in the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency.... as Hirono said, the pending nominees are noncontroversial, having been approved by a voice vote in the Judiciary Committee (of which Tillis is a member). Furthermore, many were nominated before 2016."
EDITORIAL: Moran's shift: U.S. senator plays politics by engaging in GOP races. (Garden City Telegram [KS], 07/13/16)
Editorial by Editor and Publisher Dena Sattler: "U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran ... regardless of why or how it’s happened, it’s unfortunate to watch Moran, once viewed as more of a centrist, gravitate to the far right.
His recent flip-flop over whether the U.S. Senate should address President Barack Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — Moran correctly called for senators to move forward with hearings, then fell in line with tea-party obstructionism and reversed his position — was a prime example."
COLUMN: Why yes, I do have all the answers (Journal Gazette/Times-Courier [IL], 07/12/16)
Penny Weaver, the editor of the JG-TC: "Congress needs to give Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court a vote. The president did his job and put forth a nomination; Congress is extremely remiss in not even allowing a vote on Merrick Garland. Frankly, the Republicans are just being jerks."
Reproachable record: What Toomey's been up to (Bucks County Courier Times [PA], 07/12/16)
Wayne Kroger, Guest Opinion: "Last July, Toomey said that he was "delighted" that Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo's nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was finally reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This could have occurred months prior to that if Toomey hadn't refused to submit the so-called "blue slip" to move Restrepo's nomination out of the Committee – even though the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts declared a "judicial emergency" for appeals out of Pennsylvania. When asked about the delay, Toomey told a reporter "I've got to run for this lunch" and ducked into an elevator.... Toomey also supports the filibuster of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court,"
Before SCOTUS Blockade, This GOP Senator Wanted Obama To Hurry Up And Fill Federal Vacancies: Ron Johnson said last year that presidents should fill vacancies within 210 days. (Huffington Post, 07/11/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) won’t help to advance President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.... But before the Supreme Court seat opened up this year, the senator considered filling federal vacancies to be more urgent. In June 2015, when the Senate was debating the National Defense Authorization Act, Johnson offered an amendment underscoring that Obama should have to fill federal posts within 210 days of a vacancy opening up.... Obama nominated Merrick Garland in March to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13. That means, by Johnson’s metric, the Senate should be voting to fill the seat before Sept. 10.... Speaking of judges: The Wisconsin senator is also behind the longest circuit court vacancy in the country."
Editorial: Confirm Judge Koh to the 9th Circuit (San Francisco Chronicle [CA], 07/11/16)
"Nearly five months after President Obama nominated her to fill an emergency vacancy on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Lucy Haeran Koh is scheduled for her Senate hearing Wednesday. This is welcome news after months of partisan division over judicial appointments.... Koh was the first Asian American federal judge in the Bay Area.
Koh has proved herself an accomplished, moderate, evenhanded judge who would bring necessary diversity to the Ninth Circuit. Justice is best delivered by maintaining a full court. Koh deserves Senate confirmation, and quickly."
The Senate risks Election Day chaos: Imagine a Trump-Clinton standoff and a 4-4 Supreme Court (New York Daily News, 07/11/16)
Prof. Burt Neuborne: "By refusing to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the Senate is foisting an eight-member court on the nation — and risking an equally divided court that’s unable to resolve what could be explosive electoral fights, with the presidency hanging in the balance.
Imagine what the nation and world would have looked like in 2000 with an eight-person Supreme Court.... In short, apart from being a failure to carry out its clear constitutional duty, the Senate’s irresponsible refusal even to consider Garland’s nomination risks constitutional, economic and civil crisis."
Grassley Bogs Down Entire Judiciary, Not Just Supreme Court (Iowa Starting Line, 07/10/16)
Pat Rynard: "For those who have been watching Senator Chuck Grassley’s tenure as the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his Supreme Court blockade wasn’t a big surprise. It was merely the culmination of a clear trend of obstruction of President Barack Obama’s nominees to all levels of the judiciary.... this also adds to Grassley’s historic level of obstruction on all judicial appointments. Just 20 lower court nominees from President Obama have actually been confirmed by the Senate since Grassley’s chairmanship began. By mid-June in 2008, Senator Leahy and the Democratic-controlled Senate had confirmed 49.
As one would expect, that’s caused a considerable amount of problems for the proper functioning of the judicial branch of government. It means heavier caseloads for the judges already in place and a delay of justice for those in a backlogged system. After Grassley took over the Judiciary Committee, the number of judicial vacancies have nearly doubled, from 43 to 83. Meanwhile, Obama’s nominees are playing the waiting game. 54 judicial nominees are on Grassley’s plate, yet over half of them haven’t even gotten a hearing or vote scheduled."
Watch Elizabeth Warren Relentlessly Push The Senate To Confirm Judges: The Massachusetts Democrat mocked Republicans for leaving courts empty for Donald Trump to fill. (Huffington Post, 07/08/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "Judicial nominees are piling up in the Senate as Republicans refuse to confirm them, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has had it.
Warren tore into the GOP on Thursday for exacerbating a judicial vacancy crisis, and repeatedly tried to force the Senate to confirm 17 judicial nominees stalled on the Senate floor. ... court vacancies are skyrocketing, judges are burning out and the federal judiciary is being stretched to its limits.... The Senate could confirm all 17 nominees in a matter of minutes, if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow votes to be held. Every single one of nominees has bipartisan support, and if confirmed, they would make an appreciable dent in the nation’s current 89 federal court vacancies. But when Warren formally requested that the Senate hold votes, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected. Warren went back to the microphone and tried again, this time calling for votes on nominees who have been waiting since last year. When Cornyn shut her down again, she kept at it, insisting that at least the nominees who have been waiting for longer than a year should get votes."
North Dakota legislature votes on every bill (News Journal [DE] , 07/08/16)
Harry Themal column: "Things are much worse in the hogtied Congress. A Supreme Court nominee doesn’t even get a vote because controlling Senate Republicans fear Judge Merrick Garland might be approved. Other judicial and executive appointments are in limbo for months if not years."
Nation's legal system needs full Supreme Court (USA Today, 07/08/16)
Miriam Seifter: "Since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the eight-justice court has struggled to do its job. This is a problem that affects the entire judiciary.
The court's struggle is evident in the way it has decided — or failed to decide — numerous cases over the past few months. ...These deadlocks and remands underscore the need for a full Supreme Court.... This is a role that the entire Senate, including Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, must take seriously.
An eight-justice court that cannot reach decisions on important questions does a disservice to the legal system.... The Senate, including Johnson, is an integral part of ensuring our country's legal system continues to function properly. That is why they should confirm a consensus-building, thoughtful judge such as Garland to the Supreme Court. Any further delay harms our courts and the rule of law."
Grassley's SCOTUS delay sets a dangerous precedent (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/07/16)
Rick Smith, Letter to the Editor: "Sen. Chuck Grassley’s blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process sets in motion a dangerous precedent for future presidents. Grassley and his Republican allies claim they have the right to freeze the Supreme Court confirmation process and refuse to hold hearings.... his totally absurd claim that mid-term elections limit the president’s power to get his nominees confirmed is an extremely risky and unprecedented power grab by Grassley and the Republicans. Based on Grassley’s defective reasoning, what will prevent future opposition parties that take control of the Senate in a mid-term election from refusing to confirm any of that president’s appointments?
If Grassley continues to refuse to hold hearings, he will carry the full responsibility for this irreparable damage to more than 200 years of constitutional confirmation history."
Letter: 'Biden rule' is a farce (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 07/07/16)
Dick Koos: "Northwestern University law professor, Mr. Steven Calabresi, tried to justify U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s blocking of hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland. ...There is no such “Biden rule” nor is there a long-standing practice.... Notably, President Ronald Reagan nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy and he was confirmed by a Democratic Senate."
The nation's legal system needs a full Supreme Court (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 07/07/16)
Prof. Miriam Seifter opinion column: "Since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the eight-justice court has struggled to do its job. This is a problem that affects the entire judiciary.... These deadlocks and remands underscore the need for a full Supreme Court. Back in March, President Barack Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland, my former boss, to the bench. Months later, the ball remains in the Senate's court. This is a role that the entire Senate, including Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, must take seriously.... One of the key benefits of having a Supreme Court, rather than simply a series of regional federal appeals courts, is the ability to provide uniformity on difficult legal questions. Without this feature, federal law may differ depending on which court you ask. ... The need for nine justices counsels strongly in favor of timely Senate hearings for duly appointed Supreme Court nominees.... Any further delay harms our courts and the rule of law."
EDITORIAL: No final answer (Storm Lake Times [IA], 07/06/16)
"There’s no question that immigrants feel deflated after the US Supreme Court last week effectively ended the Obama Administration’s attempt to shield several million undocumented people from deportation. ... The Supreme Court was deadlocked on whether the appeal should be heard. That’s because Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will not allow a hearing for Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.... Congress is not doing its job. It is not reviewing Supreme Court nominees. Grassley prefers to play games."
Senate inaction continues to cost the Supreme Court (Seacoastonline [Southern ME & NH], 07/06/16)
Gary Patton: "As I write this letter, 110 days have elapsed since the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. During this time U.S. Senate Republicans, including N.H. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, have blocked any action on Garland's nomination. In the history of the United States, 139 Supreme Court nominees have been confirmed or rejected by the Senate in 110 days.
The failure by Senate Republicans, including Ayotte, to hold hearings and vote Garland up or down has left the court with only eight justices, raising the possibility of four-to-four split votes which would leave the legal question under consideration unanswered.
Unfortunately, this unhappy possibility has become a reality"
EDITORIAL: State Republicans cast lot with pride and prejudice (Daily Reflector [Greenville, NC], 07/06/16)
"If Donald Trump does not win in November, Republicans might regret the decision of their leadership to withhold consideration of President Obama’s temperately conservative Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, should this case travel that far."
In Our View: Courting the next president [EDITORIAL] (Santa Maria Times [CA], 07/06/16)
"Here’s a semi-rhetorical question — who is hurt by a U.S. Supreme Court with eight justices instead of nine? Here’s our non-rhetorical answer — just about everyone.
Our point was made clear last week when the short-handed court deadlocked 4-4 on President Obama’s de facto immigration reform executive order, thus sending the lower-court ruling against Obama’s law back into a state of legal limbo.... There is a fair chance the next president will have an opportunity to nominate two candidates for Supreme Court seats,.... That scenario alone is reason enough to vote in November."
N.J. judge awaits GOP-delayed vote while your civil case remains on hold | Opinion (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 07/06/16)
Prof. Carl Tobias: "Among the country’s ten biggest federal courts, the District of New Jersey is second in weighted filings per district judgeship, a figure that assumes all seventeen authorized judgeships are filled. ... On June 11, 2015, President Barack Obama nominated Brian Martinotti,.... The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Martinotti on October 29 without dissent. However, the nominee has languished on the Senate floor ever since, principally due to Republican leaders’ refusal to allow his confirmation debate and vote. ... The District of New Jersey currently has three vacancies, so the court lacks seventeen percent of its active judicial complement, which frustrates district efforts to deliver justice. Chief Judge Jerome Simandle has been urging the Senate to quickly fill the openings ever since they arose. ... He concluded that the three “vacancies each at least one year old, [and the] enormous docket pressures make New Jersey a ‘’‘judicial emergency’ district three times over” and hoped for “Senate action soon.” ... Republican leaders have maintained that they are returning the Senate to “regular order,” however, Martinotti and many other competent, mainstream nominees have waited months for final votes."
The Public Pulse, July 5: Fischer has given us a good judge (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 07/05/16)
Mary Lauritzen: "Robert Rossiter Jr. of Omaha confirmed to the federal bench. The final vote in the Senate was 90-0.
It was a good nomination that eventually, thanks to Sen. Fischer’s negotiations, resulted in a vote that unified the U.S. Senate"
Vail Daily column: Supreme Court deadlocks hinder us all (Vail Daily [CO], 07/05/16)
Rohn K. Robbins: "the Republican Senate is refusing to act on President Obama’s seemingly uncontroversial nominee, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Merrick Garland.... When the Supreme Court bench is short, then deadlocks simply can’t be broken. In the end, that disserves the interests of justice, the Constitutional intent and the welfare of us all."
Your 2 Cents’ Worth: Tuesday, July 5 (Des Moines Register [IA], 07/05/16)
"Sen. Grassley is confusing me. Is the November election to elect a president or a Supreme Court justice." — 50574 Senior
EDITORIAL: U.S. Senate, do your job — confirm judges (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 07/05/16)
"Nebraska got some good news from the U.S. Senate on June 27 when it voted 90-0 to confirm Robert F. Rossiter Jr. to the ... District of Nebraska to fill an emergency vacancy.
Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has been praised for her work to see that the Senate took this vote. But the 90-0 vote shows that there was no opposition to Rossiter, so why did it take this long?
And the filling of this one judicial vacancy just raises the question of why the Senate has been unable to fill dozens of other vacancies throughout the country. It has allowed just 21 judicial nominees to be confirmed since the start of this Congress, even though judicial vacancies have nearly doubled in the past 18 months and the number of judicial emergencies has increased from 12 to 29.... Vacancies are continuing to prevent our country’s justice system from operating smoothly throughout the country.
There are now more than 80 judicial vacancies in all, ... and 20 federal judicial vacancies that have nominees ....
When judicial vacancies go unfilled, Americans suffer through costly delays in trials. We have seen ... how critical the shortage caused by Antonin Scalia’s death is in the court’s efforts to make decisions.
With the Senate set to go on a seven-week break on July 15, it is time for our country’s senators to do one of the crucial tasks they were elected to do, vote on more of these judicial nominee[s]."
COLUMN: Happy Birthday, America (Star-Exponent [Culpeper, VA], 07/05/16)
David Reuther: "If government is seen as broken, it is because cooperation and compromise are no longer in favor. For example, the Senate refuses to act on a presidential Supreme Court nomination. The Republican blockade of Judge Merrick Garland is shameful, but it is only the most glaring example of what has been a historic slowdown in filing federal court vacancies across the country. Mitch McConnell’s Senate has confirmed only 20 of the President’s nominees since the Republicans took control of the Senate in January 2015. This is the slowest pace since the early 1950s.
As a result of the Senate’s blockage, there are now 83 vacant federal judgeships nation-wide — 30 of which have such overwhelming case backlogs that the court system has classified them as judicial emergencies."
I'm appalled by what's happening in the Senate right now (CNBC, 07/05/16)
Commentary by Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn: "instead of holding hearings in which to assess Judge Garland's suitability for the Supreme Court, McConnell and his colleagues are doing nothing.
If their obstructionism goes unchecked, it will continue harming American citizens in very tangible ways. Having only eight Justices on the bench increases the possibility of a deadlock.
When cases end in deadlock, nothing gets decided. Resources are expended, and the American public is left hanging until the Supreme Court can hear the case again or consider another case with similar issues....So let Mitch McConnell know that it's time to quit abdicating around. Tell him to do his job and schedule a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland now."
Federal judicial vacancies in Texas still an emergency (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/04/16)
Hooman Hedayati, Commentary: "A year ago today on this page, I criticized the troubling obstructionism by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas.
They have repeatedly failed to fill vacated seats in our state’s federal appellate and district courts, including their opposition to potential nominations of qualified district judges originally recommended by Republicans.... Our state’s federal judiciary is in abysmal shape, as there are still two vacancies on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and 10 vacancies — three more than last year — in Texas’ U.S. District Courts. The oldest vacancy goes back to 2011. Additionally, several federal judges are expected to retire in the next few years.
In comparison, there are no appellate vacancies under Missouri and Louisiana, both part of the 5th Circuit. ... The Judicial Conference of the United States, headed by Chief Justice John Roberts, has marked all the Texas vacancies as a “judicial emergency,” accounting for 29 percent of the judicial emergencies nationwide .... there are 97 current and future vacancies. .... On March 15, President Barack Obama nominated five experienced individuals to fill some of the district court vacancies.
The Senate Judiciary Committee rules require both home state senators to sign a “blue slip” card, noting their approval, in order to schedule a confirmation hearing. So far, none has signed or indicated his intent to do so.
So much for working hard to fill the vacancies, Sen. Cornyn.
As long as Sens. Cornyn and Cruz continue to play politics and ignore their constitutional duty, Texans will suffer from this blatant obstruction.
Justice delayed is justice denied."
We’ve forgotten about GOP’s obstructionism amid gun-control debate (Seattle Times [WA] , 07/03/16)
Patrick J. Russell, Letter to the Editor: "Republicans have long been engaged in a coordinated effort to block administration appointments of all kinds. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has now sat in limbo for 100 days. And so have judicial appointments at all levels, all around the country, even including nominees sponsored and supported by Republicans."
Main Street opposes SCOTUS delay (Gazette [Cedar Rapids, IA], 07/03/16)
Frank Driscoll, guest columnist: "I’ve found that easily 2/3rds of the small business owners I talk to think that Senator Grassley should get along with doing his job already, and a hold a hearing for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
To them it’s simple; when you are paid to do a job, you show up and do the work it involves. Many understand that Senator Grassley may not want to vote for Merrick Garland, and that is fine, he does not have to vote in favor of Merrick Garland, but that does not mean he can refuse to do his job and pretend there isn’t a vacancy on the Supreme Court. As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is his job alone to forward the hearing process so that the rest of the Senate can do its job in either voting for or against a nominee."