Editorials and Opinion
Commentary: Sen. Kirk, here's how you can persuade the GOP to consider Merrick Garland (Chicago Tribune, 03/28/16)
Geoffrey R. Stone, professor of law, University of Chicago: "The supposed justification Mitch McConnell, Charles Grassley and other Republican senators have put forth for refusing to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities has three elements .... Each of these arguments is disingenuous, hypocritical and inconsistent with well-established constitutional traditions.
It is true that vacancies do not often arise in the final year of a president's term. But, as history teaches, when this situation does arise, the president has unhesitatingly put forth a nominee, and the Senate has routinely considered and, when appropriate, confirmed the nominee. ... The president's responsibility and authority continue under the Constitution until his term ends. ... of the 16 Supreme Court justices who have been confirmed since 1968, eight of them substantially altered the ideological balance on the court. What is striking is that every one of those eight justices was nominated by a Republican president and every one of them, predictably, moved the court in a more conservative direction.... In the last half-century, the Senate has confirmed every single nominee who was well-qualified and reasonably moderate."
EDITORIAL: More women, smarter organizations (Lexington Herald-Leader [KY], 03/28/16)
"This matters for a lot of reasons but one of the most compelling is the abundant evidence that things run better when more women are involved.... Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged to block the recent nomination of Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes — twice appointed by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher to judgeships — to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Why? Because President Barack Obama didn’t talk to McConnell first about the nomination.... public leaders should also resolve to raise government’s collective intelligence by recruiting more women."
Editorial: Sen. John Cornyn should steer party away from obstructionist path (Dallas Morning News, 03/28/16)
"Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has done the right thing -- and the smart thing, politically -- by bucking the example of his party’s bosses, including our own Sen. John Cornyn. We urge Cornyn, who is this state’s senior senator and a former member of the Texas Supreme Court, to find his own voice and set a new course for his party. ... When voters made the GOP the majority, the Senate’s new leaders immediately pledged to return the senate to “regular order.”... But the party’s recalcitrance on the Supreme Court threatens to obliterate any claim to a return to civility and respect for the institution.
We feel this course risks ruin for the Senate GOP .... Consider the op-ed Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote .... He said Democrats have no right to complain because they opposed past nominees Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. And as senator, Obama had opposed John Roberts and Samuel Alito, too.
What he left out was that each and every one of those nominees had been given a hearing, a debate and a vote. Only Robert Bork, the most extreme nominee put forth by a president in modern era, was denied a seat on the court.
Hatch’s arguments follow on weeks of statements from Cornyn and McConnell about the so-called ‘Biden Rule.’ There is no such thing and never has been."
Editorial: Supreme Court stalemate needs to be broken (Times-News [Burlington, NC], 03/27/16)
"Last month, in remarks delivered before Scalia’s death, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lamented the politicization of the confirmation process....It’s better for the Senate generally to focus on qualifications and accept that every president, by virtue of his election, has the right to try to shape the court. Presidents, meanwhile, should realize that if they put forward nominees who are too far outside the mainstream, the Senate will put up a fight.
Based on his comments last month, it would seem that the chief justice agrees. He would be doing his court and the Constitution a favor by explicitly calling on the Senate to do its job and give Garland a fair hearing."
Editorial: Try the truth for once (N'West Iowa REVIEW, 03/26/16)
"There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says the Senate should delay filling the seat. All the Constitution commands is for the Senate to “advise and consent” on the president’s choice.
Ignoring McConnell’s vow not to confirm a new justice, President Barrack Obama went ahead and nominated one anyway — Merrick Garland, currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals.... But at some point, one would hope, the partisanship will need to be tamped down. Unless Americans are prepared to see even more empty chairs in the nation’s highest court."
Editorial: Let's hear from Justice Roberts (Milford Daily News [MA], 03/26/16)
"The excuses Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are making for their refusal to let the Senate perform its constitutional responsibility range from tenuous to absurd. “The people” should determine the next justice in the November election, say these self-described strict constructionists, ignoring the logic of the Constitution. If the Founders had wanted the people to choose federal judges, they wouldn’t have given them lifetime appointments.... Bork was given a hearing and a vote in the Senate (he was rejected by a bipartisan, 58-42 vote), a courtesy McConnell refuses to grant President Obama’s nominee.... Chief Justice Roberts surely understands the flaws in McConnell’s argument,... He should say it again in Washington, and demand the confirmation of Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee, proceed in the dignified manner precedent and the Constitution prescribe."
EDITORIAL: NO MORE GAMES Moran takes principled stand against hypocrisy (Ottawa Herald [KS], 03/26/16)
TOMMY FELTS Herald Editor and Publisher: "Jerry Moran has a job to do.
Speaking Monday during a small town hall meeting in Cimarron, U.S. Sen. Moran, R-Kansas, broke from the lockstep orders of the GOP, quietly announcing he would be willing to consider the U.S. Supreme Court justice nominee recently offered by President Obama.... If that sounds like a reasonable position for a responsible lawmaker, you’re paying attention. Moran didn’t say he’d vote to confirm the nominee — simply that he’d play his elected role in the process.... A real example of political convenience: self-righteously seeking to curtail the constitutional nomination process just because the opposing party temporarily controls the White House."
Founders couldn’t predict contention (Idaho Statesman, 03/26/16)
Guest Opinion by Lindy High: "The latest frustrating incident is the decision by Senate Republicans not to act on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court and, in fact, not even to meet with him as a courtesy. The former is a prime example of congressional gridlock; the latter is just bad manners.... McConnell is serious. Recently The Courier-Journal, his hometown paper in Louisville, Ky., reported that he won’t be acting on Obama’s nomination of Lisabeth Tabor Hughes, a justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. McConnell is unhappy that the president submitted the nomination “without notifying McConnell,” according to his spokesman.
Wow. It’s going to be a long nine months."
Some charts proving today’s Senate is the most do-nothing Senate in decades (Washington Post, 03/25/16)
Catherine Rampell: "I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Senate had confirmed the fewest federal judges and civilian executive branch appointments during the first session of Congress in about three decades. I just got updated data, from a more recent Congressional Research Service report, quantifying exactly how little this Senate has gotten done through February.... Confirmations for executive branch and other positions (regulators, ambassadors, etc.) reached just 175, the lowest since at least 1988; for district court, circuit court and Supreme Court judgeships, the number was 16, also the lowest since at least 1988 (though it was tied with 2010).
I also have annual judgeship data going back much further, to 1929, via the Alliance for Justice. These numbers refer to calendar years instead, and look even worse: [CHART] In 2015, just 11 judges were confirmed, the fewest since 1960. And note that in 1960, there were only about a third as many total authorized Article III judgeships as there are today, meaning that the Senate likely had fewer openings to fill back then."
Editorial: Senate should vote on Merrick Garland nomination (Greenville [SC] News, 03/25/16)
"Elections have consequences.... The way Republicans are reacting to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court demonstrates complete ignorance of this idea. ...It is a shameful refrain that has been picked up by a long list of Republican senators including South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.... Voters have had their say. Obama was fairly elected. Twice. The Constitution allows him at any time in his term to nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill a vacancy. The Senate has a constitutional obligation to offer advice and consent on that nomination.
In that spirit, the Senate should hold hearings and an up-or-down vote on Garland’s nomination."
EDITORIAL: GOP should heed Roberts (Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald [PA], 03/25/16)
"In a speech at the New England School of Law just 10 days before the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Roberts called on the Senate to consider nominees’ qualifications and leave politics out of it.... President Obama’s two appointees on the court, Justices Elena Kagan (63-37) and Sonya Sotomayor (68-31), were confirmed much more narrowly even though Roberts, in his recent speech, characterized both as eminently qualified.
In his 2005 confirmation hearing, the chief justice was asked about some of his colleagues on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He characterized Judge Merrick Garland, now the chief judge of that court and Obama’s current nominee to the Supreme Court, as being highly capable and accomplished.
Senate Republicans should heed the chief justice and end their blind, politically motivated obstruction and conduct a fair confirmation process for Garland."
Sen. Toomey hypocritical on court nominees (Morning Call [PA], 03/24/16)
Donald Scott, Letter to the Editor: "Regarding The Morning Call article, "Obama's pick for appeals court vacancy draws Toomey's ire": Such hypocrisy!
The senator blasts the president's nomination of assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Ross Haywood for the U.S. Court of Appeals as a "partisan, confrontational" effort. He then proceeds to reject the president's nomination of Merrick Garland, joining most Senate Republicans who have vowed not to do their constitutionally mandated job of considering Supreme Court nominees.
Obviously, that's a "partisan, confrontational" stance. How does the senator keep a straight face when he speaks from both sides of his mouth?"
Editorial: Another case for filling Supreme Court seat (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 03/24/16)
"The U.S. Senate should need no more compelling reason to vote on President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court than the possibility of a deadlock among the justices on important cases.... The Senate should do its job and stop impeding government from functioning as it was designed.... Obama has nominated a well-respected centrist, federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, but Senate Republicans refuse to hold confirmation hearings and argue the vacancy should be filled by the next president. Their stalling tactics show a lack of respect for the Constitution and the American people who deserve a court that can rule on important cases before it."
COURIER EDITORIAL: GOP may rue Garland snub (Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier [IA], 03/24/16)
"Garland is considered the most conservative pick by a Democratic president in decades... In 1995, Grassley helped block President Bill Clinton’s nomination of Garland to the D.C. appellate court without a vote. He called Garland “well-qualified,” but said the court’s workload didn’t require a full complement of judges. That perspective, we suspect, would have been different if a Republican president had made the nomination, a possibility with an election a year away.... Republicans may well delay any action on Garland’s nomination as a matter of politics, but the most pragmatic course of action would be to not dismiss him entirely."
Editorial Ending the Supreme Court stalemate (Los Angeles Times, 03/24/16)
"[S]talemates are likely if Senate Republicans continue with their ridiculous refusal to hold hearings on President Obama's nomination of federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Scalia vacancy. ... It's better for the Senate generally to focus on qualifications and accept that every president, by virtue of his election, has the right to try to shape the court. ... Based on his comments last month, it would seem that the chief justice agrees. He would be doing his court and the Constitution a favor by explicitly calling on the Senate to do its job and give Garland a fair hearing."
EDITORIAL: The system is broken (Citizens Voice [Wilkes-Barre, PA], 03/24/16)
"Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts ... just 10 days before the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Roberts called on the Senate to consider nominees’ qualifications and leave politics out of it.... In his 2005 confirmation hearing, ... [h]e characterized Judge Merrick Garland, now the chief judge of that court and Obama’s current nominee to the Supreme Court, as being highly capable and accomplished.
Senate Republicans should heed the chief justice and end their blind, politically motivated obstruction and conduct a fair confirmation process for Garland."
EDITORIAL: The Senate Defers to the N.R.A. (New York Times, 03/24/16)
"It turns out that the most important voice in the Supreme Court nomination battle is not the American people’s, as Senate Republicans have insisted from the moment Justice Antonin Scalia died last month. It is not even that of the senators. It’s the National Rifle Association’s.
That is what the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said the other day when asked about the possibility of considering and confirming President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, after the November elections.... In other words, forget the voters. Forget that Judge Garland has been supported and praised by top Republicans and Democrats for years. The N.R.A. doesn’t like him — for no fact-based reason — and that’s all that matters.
It is hard to calculate the damage Republicans are doing to the nation and the court, even as poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans believe the Senate should hold hearings and an up-or-down vote.... This isn’t governance; it is the unhinged tantrum of a party whose ideological rigidity has already paralyzed Congress, and now threatens the Supreme Court itself."
EDITORIAL: Our thumbs up, thumbs down for the week (News Journal (DE), 03/24/16)
"Thumbs Up: To Delaware’s Joe Biden for calling for the Senate to act in a timely manner on the current Supreme Court vacancy. Biden believes that leaving it unfilled would produce "a patchwork Constitution inconsistent with equal justice and the rule of law." ... The vice president hoped to convince Republican senators that their refusal to consider the nomination of appellate judge Merrick Garland hurts ordinary Americans."
Bill Straub: Hard to argue the fact that McConnell’s actions are harming the courts and the nation (KyForward [Lexington, KY], 03/24/16)
"Sen. Mitch McConnell ... is not going to sanction a hearing for President Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
The rationale behind the Louisville’s Republicans obstinacy is considerably thinner than thin air .... Thus far during the 114th Congress, which began in January 2015 under Republican control, a paltry 16 judicial nominee have been confirmed by the Senate. Only five have occurred this year during the second session.
As of Wednesday, there are 84 vacancies in the federal judiciary, with 49 nominations forwarded by the Obama administration pending. Thirty-two of those open slots are considered judicial emergencies. There are 17 judicial nominees ready for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. None of them have been scheduled.... Now McConnell’s obstructionism is likely going to block a Kentucky nominee. Obama has recommended that Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes, raised in Princeton and now residing in Louisville, fill a slot on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that has been vacant since August 2013. Hughes, Obama said, “has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions.’’
McConnell, of course, is having none of it. ... with McConnell attempting to force a Democratic president to appoint someone, a Republican, more to his liking, despite Hughes’ obvious qualifications for the post."
EDITORIAL: GOP should heed Roberts (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 03/24/16)
"In a speech at the New England School of Law just 10 days before the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice Roberts called on the Senate to consider nominees’ qualifications and leave politics out of it....In his 2005 confirmation hearing, the chief justice was asked about some of his colleagues on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He characterized Judge Merrick Garland, now the chief judge of that court and Mr. Obama’s current nominee to the Supreme Court, as being highly capable and accomplished.
Senate Republicans should heed the chief justice and end their blind, politically motivated obstruction and conduct a fair confirmation process for Judge Garland."
EDITORIAL: The move to paralyze the president (Idaho Mountain Express, 03/23/16)
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s concerned about the American people. McConnell is engaged in more than political theater—rather, in the unconstitutional and reprehensible nullification of a sitting president, making him powerless.... McConnell reaffirmed his commitment to preventing the current president from naming any justice.... First, the people already expressed their voice in choosing a president empowered to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. ... The second principle McConnell is ignoring is that the United States is a representative democracy.... McConnell’s move violates America’s democratic principles. He should let the Senate proceed."
EDITORIAL: The Political Olive Branch (Jewish Exponent [PA], 03/23/16)
"In nominating federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama has met Republican senators at least halfway. The 63-year-old nominee does not appear to present an ideological challenge to the Senate majority, so there appears to be little for them to fear. But even without that, the GOP leadership’s denial of an up or down vote on the nomination — exactly the kind of advice and consent that the Constitution requires — abrogates the Senate’s responsibility and will further diminish Congress’ standing in the eyes of the American public."
EDITORIAL: Blacktracking the vote (Eastern Arizona Courier, 03/23/16)
"The president, who, by the way, is a two-term president elected by the populace, did his job by naming a nominee, a man who was even suggested by one of the staunchiest Republicans out there, and yet the Senate won’t even dignify the selection by even meeting with the man, much less take a vote on confirmation, which would be doing its job.
Garland himself is known to be a uniter, one who runs toward the center of both parties, like the majority of Americans, .... Maybe the Republicans shouldn’t blacktrack any longer before their window of getting a moderate justice is closed."
EDITORIAL: OUR OPINION: Supreme Court vacancy creates still another political spectacle (Sioux City Journal [IA], 03/23/16)
"To this point, no Republican, including Iowa Senators Charles Grassley (who chairs the Judiciary Committee) and Joni Ernst, is willing to take the high road, in spite of past political battles, and advocate for putting politics aside and doing what's right.
As we have said before, we believe the Senate should take up Obama's nomination. In our view, the Senate should perform its "advice and consent" responsibility by giving Garland a full, fair vetting. ... the process set forth in the Constitution deserves respect and Garland deserves a hearing.
In other words, senators should do their jobs."
Friends, neighbors hail Haywood nomination (Herald-Standard [Uniontown, PA], 03/23/16)
“I think she has the intellect and temperament to be an outstanding appellate judge,” said Dan Sinclair, a partner in the Eckerd Seamans law firm who graduated with Haywood in 1986. “We had a lot of the same classes, and some activities. I hope the United States Senate considers her and confirms her quickly.”... “I can’t think of very many people I have met in this profession who are more qualified or more suited to be a federal appellate judge than she is,” Sinclair said. “Her work experience and her background make her very well suited for that.”... Since 2010 Haywood has been chief of the Appellate Division in the office of Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton.
“The President has made an exceptional nomination,” Hickton said in a prepared statement when the nomination was announced last week. “Rebecca Ross Haywood is a lawyer of unparalleled legal ability and judgment; she is also a wonderful person.”