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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Editorials and Opinion


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MINI: This is why Democrats opposed Gorsuch (Sioux City Journal [IA], 04/14/17)
Thomas E. Hudek, Letter to the Editor: Democrats opposed Mr. Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court because: 1) It was a stolen seat. Merrick Garland should at least have had an up-or-down vote. 2) Gorsuch has sided with corporations over working-class people 100 percent of the time.

Letter: Nothing flawless about Gorsuch process (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 04/14/17)
Sue Griswold: millions of us will recall that this nomination was stolen from our last president and given to the present White House occupant, while that occupant and his staff remain under FBI investigation for contacts with Russia. Yes, Sen. Grassley looks to have some of the flawless skills of a consigliere to a major crime family.

Opinion How Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat (Los Angeles Times, 04/14/17)
Dave Hoen, Letter to the Editor: Isn’t it ironic that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) single handedly decided who should serve on the Supreme Court by blocking Merrick Garland from being considered after he was nominated in 2016 by President Obama and then invoking the nuclear option to confirm Neil Gorsuch, all in an effort to replace the strict constructionist Antonin Scalia with another strict constructionist, Gorsuch?

Jeff Flake Probably Regrets Hosting This Town Hall: He took serious heat for healthcare and boxing out Merrick Garland. (Esquire, 04/14/17)
Jack Holmes: Flake also touched on the issue of Supreme Court nominations. How'd that go? "What happened to Merrick Garland's vote?!" Jeff Flake's constituents overwhelm him w/ boos over Gorsuch talk —via @Morning_Joe — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 14, 2017 While the tactic Republicans used to deny Merrick Garland a confirmation vote for nearly a year might not have been a filibuster, the effect was the same—and it was unprecedented. Flake's smile while trotting out this excuse betrays the fact that he knows this as well as anyone. The cynicism that now dominates Beltway politics—particularly among Mitch McConnell and his caucus—is really breathtaking.

Why Opposing Trump Isn't Like the GOP Obstructing Obama: The political press won't stop gaslighting anti-Trump Democrats and progressives (Rolling Stone, 04/14/17)
Joshua Holland: In the 230-year period between the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Barack Obama's election, opposition parties blocked a grand total of 68 presidential nominees. In the three years and 10 months between Obama's inauguration and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's move to eliminate the filibuster for lower court nominees, Republicans had blocked 79 of them – that's 54 percent of the historic total in just under four years. ... Mitch McConnell, moved to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees after the Democrats filibustered Donald Trump's pick, Neil Gorsuch, who had come off as aloof and unresponsive during his confirmation hearings and offered no reason for refusing to meet with two (women) Democratic senators. ... Obama's nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland, is the only candidate in the history of the United States to be denied a hearing by the opposition. ... Democrats and progressives are outraged that Republicans effectively stole a seat that might have shifted the Court's ideological balance to the left for the first time since 1971. But the both-sides-do-it reporting we've seen makes their fury seem illogical, a simple case of sour grapes.

Letter attacking Kaine, Warner the height of hypocrisy (News Virginian [Waynesboro, VA], 04/14/17)
William D. Trent, Letter to the Editor: Republicans in the Senate “failed their mission” by refusing to even hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, last year. In fact, they didn’t just fail their mission to the citizens they represent. They failed their mission — failed their solemn oath, even — to do the job mandated of senators by the U.S. Constitution.

Tester sided with 75 percent of Montanans on Gorsuch vote (Missoulian [MT], 04/13/17)
Evan Barrett: Tester believes that Gorsuch supports the massive intrusion of corporations into our election processes, a political disaster that has allowed almost unmeasurable corporate influence on campaigns and elections since the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision. That case made corporations “citizens” and declared their money “free speech.” Tester’s opposition to Gorsuch based on this was consistent with the position held by 75 percent of Montanans when they voted on these very questions on a state ballot issue in 2012.... Daines, however, in voting for Gorsuch, chose to ignore that 75 percent, ignore their directives about this important issue, and sided with the corporate elite over the people of Montana.

Will Justice Gorsuch help reverse Citizens United ruling? (Des Moines Register [IA], 04/13/17)
Dale Berry, Letter to the Editor: an article ... stated, “Gorsuch has developed a reputation as a strict ‘textualist’ and ‘originalist.’” The article goes on to define such person as “someone who reads statutes and the Constitution literally and seeks to interpret them through the eyes of their authors.” That being said, I would now expect Justice Gorsuch to move to reverse the Citizens United decision. Does anyone truly believe that our founding fathers had money in mind when they were guaranteeing our freedom of speech?

Democrats didn’t gratuitously forfeit the filibuster (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA], 04/13/17)
Harold Bloomfield, Letter to the Editor: It is laughable that Mr. Krauthammer was able to write about this subject without mentioning the Republicans’ unprecedented refusal to give Merrick Garland’s nomination a hearing and a vote. Mr. Krauthammer further amuses by stating that President Barack Obama tried to “pack three liberal judges onto the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” Mr. Obama apparently rankled Republicans by fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to nominate judges to fill existing vacancies. Mr. Krauthammer also complains about liberal judges and their freewheeling, freestyle constitutional interpretation, conveniently forgetting about the Roberts court’s precedent-shattering decisions

Three myths about the Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation fight: Erwin Chemerinsky (Los Angeles Daily News [CA], 04/13/17)
"Myth 1: Confirmation fights began with the defeat of the nomination of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. This is simply false. Confirmation fights began during George Washington’s presidency. ... Myth 2: Confirmation fights unduly politicize the Supreme Court. The key democratic check on the court, an unelected body whose members have life tenure, is the nomination and confirmation process.... Myth 3: The elimination of the filibuster will lead to the appointment of more extreme Supreme Court justices.... The reality is that filibusters never have mattered with regard to Supreme Court nominations.

Grace Hauser: Neil Gorsuch's dysfunctional nuclear family (Cap Times [WI], 04/13/17)
"The GOP employed a “nuclear option” by reducing the number of votes needed to overcome a filibuster to a simple majority, thus rendering the filibuster completely useless against Supreme Court nominees. In doing so, they dramatically changed the nature of the Senate confirmation process by eliminating the element of debate. They undermined the checks and balances that were employed to vet every previous Supreme Court nominee. ... But it isn’t just the precedent that’s scary here; it’s Neil Gorsuch himself.... Gorsuch’s views fall far behind the rest of the country."

Diane Wood: This administration and Congress are the worst (Longmont Daily Times-Call [CO], 04/13/17)
Letter to the Editor: McConnell violated the Constitution when he refused to consider Obama's Supreme Court nominee for an entire year. Then he used the "nuclear option," ending the filibuster, to force the Senate approval of Gorsuch, an extreme conservative. He should be held accountable for these unconstitutional actions. Remember that it was Gorsuch who judged corporations to be persons. He also ruled to allow Hobby Lobby to withhold insurance coverage on portions of birth control because of religious reasons.

Republicans give America an extreme right-wing Supreme Court that will divide the country more than ever: Republicans didn't just steal a Supreme Court seat; they're unwinding rules that force compromise (, 04/12/17)
Steven Rosenfeld: Senate Republicans pushed the country further down the rabbit hole of political extremism Thursday by changing the voting rules to put a far-right justice in a hijacked Supreme Court seat, cementing a conservative high court majority for years. ... Led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the Republicans refused to act on President Obama’s court nominee, Merrick Garland.... The stage was set for this judicial coup on Thursday, when Republicans, who could only get 55 votes to end the Democratic filibuster, began the procedural march to repealing that rule for Supreme Court nominations

Congress should impeach Sen. Mitch McConnell (San Jose Mercury News [CA], 04/12/17)
Henry Bugatto, Letter to the Editor: Sen. Mitch McConnell violated his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution when he refused to hear Merrick Garland or any other Supreme Court nominee that President Obama might have sent to the Senate and instead refused for almost a year to do his job, all with no legal justification. He should be impeached. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen and will leave the legitimacy of our highest court in question. I will now call the latest justice Merrick Gorsuch to remind us of the theft of this seat.

Judge Gorsuch (Miami Herald, 04/12/17)
Jaime G Escalante, Letter to the Editor: It is a sad day for the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Neil Gorsuch is taking over a stolen seat.... The GOP denied the hearing of Judge Garland, nominated by President Obama. Then, after waiting many months, and a change in administration, the Senate changed the rules to get Gorsuch confirmed. Senator Mitch McConnell, who orchestrated this mess, is a disgrace for the Senate.

Letter to the editor: Sen. Collins chooses her party over welfare of the nation (Portland Press Herald [ME] , 04/12/17)
John Howard: Almost immediately after voting to repeal long-standing Senate rules designed to protect a minority position on lifetime appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, Susan Collins issued a statement professing her deep and abiding commitment to the 60-vote rule for legislation because it “helps preserve the tradition of the Senate of respecting minority views and increases likelihood of bipartisan work.” The depth of her hypocrisy is stunning. Collins often talks a moderate game, but her votes clearly and repeatedly demonstrate that she will sacrifice the long-term welfare of the nation for the short-term, partisan benefit of the Republican Party. Her treachery in this instance reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s character The Walrus mourning the loss of his friends, the oysters, after having just devoured them.

[Editorial] Gorsuch wrong for Supreme Court (Philadelphia Tribune [PA], 04/11/17)
"Gorsuch’s judicial record shows that he has consistently decided to protect corporations, and limit the rights of minorities, women, and workers.... Gorsuch’s “orignialsim” method of interpreting the constitution is absurd....the original understanding of the Constitution is unknowable, and even if it could be known, should not be binding today.... If constitutional interpretation must follow the specific intentions of the framers, as Gorsuch wrote, the results often will be unacceptable if not absurd.... Article II refers to the President and vice-president with the pronoun “he.”... The same Congress that ratified the Fourteenth Amendment also voted to segregate the District of Columbia public schools. Under an originalist philosophy, Brown vs. Board of Education was wrongly decided and laws mandating segregation were constitutional."

Opinion by Prof. Neil H. Buchanan: the idea that the rejection of Robert Bork 's nomination to the Supreme Court by a bipartisan group of 58 senators in 1987 somehow justifies the Republicans' subsequent behavior in the Senate stands out as one of the most dishonest readings of history in current U.S. political discourse.... The only way to describe what happened to Bork as "politicizing" the hearings is to say that the Senate has no business asking about a nominee's views at all.... [Linda] Greenhouse also points out that there is a subsidiary myth that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg refused to give substantive answers during her confirmation hearings, which supposedly justifies Gorsuch's farcical nomination hearings last month. That is not what happened at all.... Senate Democrats had a choice.... they forced the Republicans to show that they have no principles and are willing to burn down the Senate in the service of their partisan agenda.

Letter: No voice for the people (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 04/11/17)
Steve Lewis: he Senate has plunged over the brink. The confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is just the tragic climax to this partisan ride. For over 200 years, the Senate was able to confirm Supreme Court nominees with a 60-vote consensus. What just happened is called the "nuclear option" for a reason. With polls showing voters strongly against this course by a 65 to 25 margin, there may never have been a time when Congress has been less responsive to the voice and will of the people. Clearly party and power are more important than country to them now.

EDITORIAL: Gorsuch nomination a reminder of why we don’t like Congress (Powell Tribune [WY], 04/11/17)
"It was only about an hour after the announcement of Scalia’s death that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, proclaimed that Republicans would refuse to consider anyone Democratic President Barack Obama nominated for the open seat.... The Senate’s Republican leadership — a group that includes our own Sen. John Barrasso — was wrong to refuse to consider any Obama nominee and it was an abuse of the Senate’s power to “advise and consent.”... Republicans altered the Senate’s rules so they could confirm Gorsuch’s nomination with a simple 54-45 majority (rather than the normally required 60 votes). ... it seems to us that members of Congress should feel some obligation to play by the rules, rather than constantly searching for any opportunity or excuse to break them."

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"

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.

‘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

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