Editorials and Opinion
Letter to the editor: Confirm Merrick Garland (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 07/01/16)
Brian Hoffman: "I’m feeling especially sad and fed up. For the fourth time since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the nation’s highest court has deadlocked because Senate Republicans have refused to even hold hearings on President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy.... As Ohioans, we must demand that U.S. Sen. Rob Portman urge his Republican colleagues to stop their obstructionism and hold confirmation hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, the supremely qualified Judge Merrick Garland."
What about the Other Judicial Nominees? (Boston's Blog, 06/30/16)
Jim Boston: "It finally happened.
372 days after President Barack Obama nominated him to serve as a district judge for the US District Court for the State of Nebraska, Robert F. Rossiter Jr. finally got the gig.... the US Senate voted, 90-0, to confirm Rossiter .... Now it's time for the two dozen other district-judge nominees to get their confirmations.
In fact, it's long been time. One of the reasons Rossiter's got a new job is US Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), ... On the other side of the coin...Fischer's one of the US senators fighting like you-know-what to prevent Merrick Garland from even having a hearing as Obama's nominee to replace the now-deceased Antonin Scalia.... 1988 was also the year where, 49 days into the year, a 51-year-old Californian named Anthony Kennedy became the newest SCOTUS justice.... Isn't it time to give Garland his due?"
LinkedIn founder: if Senate were more like Silicon Valley, we'd have a full Supreme Court by now (Vox, 06/30/16)
Tara Golshan: "When President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court of the United States, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it explicitly clear the nomination would go nowhere, the Democrats’ response to Senate Republicans was simple: Do your job.... In a call for action, Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, a voice from Silicon Valley, put it this way: If institutions in other industries tried to pull this kind of thing — delay basic responsibilities to their liking — it would be "corporate suicide""
Letter: Give Garland a hearing (Quad City Times [IL,IA] , 06/30/16)
Mike Maloney: "Anthony Kennedy was nominated by President Reagan to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court and confirmed by a Democratic Senate in a presidential election year by a vote of 97-0. ... support of a parliamentary style of government has no basis in the U.S. Constitution.
The people of the United States do not want the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to have veto power over nominations to the Supreme Court. Sen. Grassley should schedule hearings and let the entire committee vote on the qualifications of Judge Garland."
PD Editorial: Kennedy’s court shaping the law (Press Democrat [CA] , 06/30/16)
Justice "Kennedy is Exhibit No. 1 in the case against the Senate’s refusal to even schedule a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s choice to succeed Scalia.
President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy, a fellow Californian, in November 1987 — with less than a year remaining in his final Oval Office term. Reagan picked Kennedy ... . The Senate, controlled by Democrats, confirmed Kennedy on a unanimous vote barely two months later.
Despite the efforts of Kennedy and his colleagues, the failure to fill Scalia’s seat rendered the court unable to settle several major issues, including aspect of Obamacare and dues collections by public employee unions. There’s no assurance that the court will have another chance at these issues soon, nor is there any guarantee that the vacancy will be filled soon after November’s election. ... three justices will be at least 78 when the next president is inaugurated. Kennedy will be 80. If the Senate turn the court into another partisan battlefield, Kennedy’s court could soon be filled with empty chairs."
Confirmation hearings are a must (Daily Record [Wooster, OH], 06/30/16)
Brian Hoffman: "Because the Supreme Court does not have its full complement of nine justices, it failed again to deliver a definitive ruling in another case of national importance.
Regardless of one's views on immigration, America must unite on the need for the nation's highest court to have the vacancy filled. And Ohioans must demand that Sen. Rob Portman urge his Republican colleagues to stop their obstructionism and hold confirmation hearings on President Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland."
EDITORIAL: End the Senate’s useless judicial obstructionism (Butler Eagle [PA], 06/30/16)
"President Barack Obama nominated Judge Horan for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania nearly a year ago. She would fill one of three seats on the court which have been vacant since 2013. A fourth seat became vacant this year .... there’s been no timetable put forward for a full vote by the Senate to send her or any of the dozens of other judicial nominees awaiting confirmation to the federal bench.
That’s a shameful and harmful state of affairs which Pennsylvania voters shouldn’t tolerate. District courts across the country hear hundreds of thousands of cases annually, and need a full complement of judges to function properly.... this U.S. Senate is allowing an entire corner of Pennsylvania to go without a sitting federal judge.... In the case of Judge Horan and district court nominees like her, the Senate’s obstructionist tactics aren’t just harmful, they are nonsensical. These appointees aren’t political statements by the president or even generally controversial in any way. Both Horan and Baxter have been endorsed by Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat.
Yet the Senate’s destructive behavior, meant to harm Obama but managing only to punish sitting federal judges and the citizens these courts are meant to serve, continues."
Get a Normal Process 6/29/16 (Sierra County Prospect [CA], 06/29/16)
Tom H. Hastings: "We see the results—all truly controversial issues of great import go undecided by the Supremes now because they are at a 4-4 tie.... the Senate should do its job and hold the hearings and confirm or reject the Garland nomination."
Letter: Let our votes count by holding Garland hearings (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 06/29/16)
Charles Swift: "In a recent Tribune article, we learned that a poll indicates a clear majority of Utahns want hearings for Supreme court nominee Merrick Garland. The article also talked about a recent study finding "that in every one of the 103 earlier Supreme Court vacancies, the president nominated a replacement and the Senate held hearings."
"You cannot find a single precedent for the position of Republican senators," Professor Jason Mazzone, a law professor and one of the study's co-authors, said. "You cannot simply find a historical perspective for that."
The fact is, there have been Supreme Court nominees who have been confirmed by the Senate during election years. It's been done before and can be done again. And yet, the Republican senators, including Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, continue with their obstructionism.... the Constitution does not give them the authority to say the next president has the power to appoint Supreme Court Justices and this president does not."
Obstructionism is terrible governance: Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators should do their jobs (Medium, 06/29/16)
Reid Hoffman: Entrepreneur. Investor. Strategist. "In Silicon Valley, such behavior would be corporate suicide. In Washington, DC, it’s business as usual.
So Mitch McConnell’s strike goes on and on — he refuses to even meet with any nominee until a new president takes office. Other senators like Richard Burr (R — NC), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Rob Portman (R — OH) have followed McConnell’s lead, either refusing to even informally meet with Judge Garland, or meeting but still reflexively insisting that a formal Senate hearing is not an option.
But the Constitution does not give the job of nominating and appointing Supreme Court Justices to the next President — it gives it to the current one."
The Hinge of History (Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, 06/29/16)
Andrew Cohen: "The Supreme Court ended its term this week diminished literally and figuratively by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The refusal by Senate Republicans even to hold a hearing to consider his successor, pro-prosecution centrist Merrick Garland, is not just an act of hostility and disrespect toward President Barack Obama it is also an insult to the federal judiciary in all its forms. Each 4-4 tie hammered out this spring by the justices, each unresolved statutory or constitutional dispute, reminded us that there is a reason the Court needs to operate with an uneven number of jurists so that it may, indeed, be the nation's court of last resort."
Diane Wood: Republicans in the Senate should do their jobs (Daily Camera [CO] , 06/29/16)
"The latest Supreme Court case involved the President's effort to avoid deportation of many undocumented immigrants, including some from Mexico. The court is missing its ninth justice and so no decision was reached. That means the lower court that stopped the presidential directive will determine the final outcome. Our Republican-dominated Senate is ignoring the Constitution by refusing to hold hearings and a vote on the President's nominee, Merrick Garland."
Editorial: Congress, court need to move past gridlock (Independent [Grand Island, NE], 06/29/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has now joined the U.S. Congress in gridlock.
In a 4-4 split last week, the court was unable to decide whether President Barack Obama’s immigration plan and actions were legal....Of course, the court is deadlocked because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. That left the court with only eight justices and with the possibility of tie votes.
And when Republicans in Congress failed to even consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Scalia, the country was guaranteed that the court will be unable to decide some key issues.
Garland would not have taken the Supreme Court seat in time to weigh in on the immigration case even if the Senate had confirmed his appointment. However, there’s no telling how long it will take to fill the seat since Republican senators have insisted that it wait until after the November election. Cases heard in October, November, December, January, February and onward may even still be in jeopardy of tie votes.
The real issue is the gridlock in Congress. Anger with Washington has spilled over to the polls this election year."
World-Herald editorial: Rossiter confirmation shows things can get done in Congress (Omaha World-Herald [NE] , 06/29/16)
"The commendable work by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer on Robert Rossiter Jr.’s judicial nomination shows that it’s possible to get things done in Washington through effective leadership. The Senate voted 90-0 Monday to approve the nomination of Rossiter, an Omaha attorney, as Nebraska’s next federal judge.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, stated that “only because of the efforts of Sen. Fischer is Mr. Rossiter’s nomination receiving a vote today.”... As reporting by The World-Herald’s Joseph Morton explained, the vote on Rossiter’s nomination is a rarity at a time when the Senate is otherwise stalemated on such votes. Some 25 judicial nominations are still “languishing on the Senate floor” due to the gridlock, Leahy said."
Diane Wood: Immigration laws must be addressed by lawmakers (Longmont Daily Times-Call [CO], 06/29/16)
Letter to the Editor: "With Senate Republicans unwilling to interview Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court justice, many issues brought before the court will not be dealt with effectively. President Obama is required to recommend Supreme Court justices and the Senate is required to vote on them. This is another Republican effort to make our government and our president ineffective.... Our Republican-dominated Senate is ignoring the Constitution by refusing to hold hearings and a vote on the president's nominee, Merrick Garland."
Senate GOP Judicial Obstruction Simply Staggering (Tidal Soundings, 06/29/16)
"Senate Republicans refusal to actually fulfill their constitutional responsibilities just keeps on staggering me. Take a look at this article describing just how many judicial appointments Senate Republicans are holding up .... The level of obstruction is just staggering and the disregard for our judicial system is equally stunning. ... these are judicial vacancies that have been unfilled for two or three years already."
Live Wire: Sen. Burr blocking judge from bench (Fayetteville Observer [NC] , 06/29/16)
"Q: I was reading that Judge Patricia Timmons-Goodson has been nominated for a federal judgeship and Sen. Richard Burr is going to block her. Why would Sen. Burr block such a good person? I know this woman and her family, and she is a very good person, and she has been a good judge for years. - B.R., Fayetteville
A: President Obama nominated Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville for a federal judgeship in April. Praise for her isn't just from B.R.
Cumberland County commissioners voted unanimously in May to support her nomination.... She became the first black woman to serve on the N.C. Supreme Court.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat who represents many counties in the Eastern District, has said, "Her character and reputation are beyond reproach."... Burr, a Republican, has said he won't allow Timmons- Goodson to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.... - Steve DeVane
Editorial, 6/29 (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/29/16)
"Dysfunction pervades the nation’s capital. ... Senate Republicans continue to refuse to even hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy.
On an issue close to home the Senate this week finally confirmed Omaha attorney Robert Rossiter Jr. as a federal judge for Nebraska. The position had been vacant since October, 2014, with a workload in the district so heavy that it was classified as “judicial emergency.” There was nothing controversial about Rossiter’s nomination. Nonetheless it took the Senate a year to act once President Barack Obama nominated him."
NEW NEBRASKA JUDGE BOB ROSSITER CONFIRMED (PAPERWORK TO FOLLOW) (Mimesis Law, 06/29/16)
Richard G. Kopf, Senior United States District Judge (Nebraska): "I have written before at Fault Lines about what a wonderful federal district judge Bob Rossiter would be for the District of Nebraska. On Monday, June 27, 2016, at about 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time, Bob was confirmed 90 to 0 by the Senate.... he only had to wait more than a year to have his entirely non-controversial nomination voted upon by a roll call on the Senate floor. By that time, our court faced a “judicial emergency” because we were without one-third of our judge-power for over 18 months.
In fact, nearly three years have passed since Judge Joe Bataillon told the world he intended to take senior status. Still further, Bob had to wait for nearly two year before his floor vote, even though both Nebraska Senators had recommended Bob to President Obama in August of 2014.
Time passes slowly when you are in prison or considered for the position of a federal district judge."
Supreme Court cases shouldn't end with a tie (Des Moines Register [IA], 06/28/16)
Ross Daniels, Letter to the Editor: "Sen. Chuck Grassley, this is not the way the judiciary is supposed to work. Do your job and hold hearing for Judge Merrick Garland."
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Heller needs to act on Garland’s appointment (Las Vegas Sun, 06/28/16)
Steven Horner: "It’s time for Sen. Dean Heller to fulfill his oath of office.... When a president appoints a Supreme Court Justice, he is fulfilling his oath, and when a senator advises and consents, they have fulfilled their oath. As a soldier, I may have disagreed with an order, but because of that oath, I followed every lawful order. I couldn’t wait for the next commanding officer to change that order.
As a veteran, I am asking Sen. Heller: Please fulfill your oath of office and advise and consent on Merrick Garland’s appointment. This is your obligation as an elected and sitting senator; you cannot wait for a new president."
EDITORIAL: High court can't do its job when the Senate punts on court nominees (Savannah Morning News [GA] , 06/28/16)
"Last week’s 4-4 tie on the U.S. Supreme Court over President Obama’s immigration policy underscores at least three things. It shows again that the U.S. Senate is hamstringing the high court by refusing to consider Obama’s nominee to the vacancy there. And it illustrates the importance of carefully picking the next president, who will pick the next justice and quite possibly more. The balance of the court is at stake.... The reach of executive power is exactly the sort of constitutional issue that should be decided by the Supreme Court, not by one of 12 regional appeals courts. But without a 9th justice to break a tie, it gets punted.... Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in March to fill the vacancy created when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Senate Republicans have blocked even a hearing on Garland, saying it should be the next president’s job, not this one’s, to fill the seat. It is yet another way for Republicans to register their contempt for the Democratic president.
Who knows when a new justice could even get seated, or how many 4-4 ties will result before that happens. We do know that the Senate has delayed that day and shrugged its responsibility by refusing to consider a highly qualified nominee named by the sitting president of the United States."
EDITORIAL: Immigration ruling hard on California (Daily Democrat [CA] , 06/28/16)
"Last week’s non-decision by a paralyzed U.S. Supreme Court on President Barack 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.... But this isn’t just about immigrants. The high court has been operating with eight justices instead of its full complement of nine since Scalia died. Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s place, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or a vote.... a Supreme Court tie is akin to the court having never heard the case at all, a waste of time and effort. ... we would rather have a full nine-person Court capable of taking definitive stands on complex issues rather than leaving the laws of our country in limbo."
Republicans Aren’t Even Pretending They Want To Confirm Judges Anymore: They’re quietly blocking their own nominees and skipping votes for others. Because Obama. (Huffington Post, 06/28/16)
Jennifer Bendery: "Senate Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to put judges on federal courts. ... 15 Republican senators are quietly blocking their own nominees in the committee. Take Cruz and Cornyn. They’ve got 12 judicial vacancies in Texas — that’s the most in the nation — and all have been designated judicial emergencies, meaning the courts’ workloads are unmanageable. Both senators publicly supported Obama’s nomination of five people to those courts in March. In fact, Cornyn talked big about his commitment to getting them confirmed .... But none of those nominees has been confirmed, because Cruz and Cornyn won’t turn in their so-called “blue slips” .... Sen. Dan Coats (Ind.) hasn’t turned in his blue slip for his judicial nominee, Myra Selby. Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) haven’t turned in their blue slips for their nominee, Abdul Kallon. Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) haven’t turned in blue slips for their nominees, either. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn’t turned in his blue slip for his nominee, Lisabeth Hughes.... Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he no longer supports his nominee, Mary Barzee Flores,... Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) pulled his support for his nominee, Dax López"
We’re nowhere on immigration reform (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 06/28/16)
Steve Sebelius, column: "The Supreme Court’s affirmation left the circuit court decision in place, but did not set a precedent. (Republicans, in addition to blocking immigration reform, have refused to consider the president’s nomination of federal Judge Merrick Garland to fill the high court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.)
So we can’t even agree to hold hearings for a judge who might break a tie in a lawsuit over one of the nation’s most contentious issues, which might then pave the way toward making policy the way the founders intended, through the regular order of Congress."
Editorial: Garland GOP's best bet? (Journal Star [Peoria, IL], 06/28/16)
"The U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed two controversial rights, confirming its leftward shift, Merrick Garland or no Merrick Garland.... The moderate Garland may be Republicans' best bet."
Don Walton column (Lincoln Journal Star [NE], 06/27/16)
"The Senate is expected to confirm the president's nomination of Robert Rossiter to be a U.S. District Court judge in Nebraska on Monday. And, just think, it only took a little over a year for the Senate to act on the nomination while Nebraska's federal court system struggled with an overload that qualifies as a "judicial emergency.""
The Senate Republicans’ Assault on the Supreme Court: If they don't cease the manipulative obstruction of Merrick Garland, they'll forever change the confirmation process (TIME magazine, 06/27/16)
Prof. Geoffrey R. Stone: "On 103 occasions in American history an elected president has had an opportunity to fill a vacancy before the election of his predecessor, and in every one of those instances the president has been able to appoint the next justice. Moreover, in every one of these situations in which the vacancy arose during the final year of a president’s term, including such presidents as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, the Senate—sometimes controlled by the president’s party, sometimes by the opposing party—has confirmed a nominee.
There is thus neither historical precedent nor constitutional legitimacy to support the Senate Republicans’ conduct. Their obstructionism is an exercise of raw power. The Senate Republicans’ goal is to control the Supreme Court, come hell or high water. ... Obama put forth an exceptionally qualified, but very moderate, 63-year-old nominee."
EDITORIAL: System wasn't designed for tie votes (Hawk Eye [Burlington. IA], 06/27/16)
"Thanks to Grassley, the court has been without a ninth member since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed, since Scalia was buried, he wouldn’t permit anyone nominated by the president to receive a hearing before the committee. ... It’s a powerful position, and Grassley is using it to promote his anti-Obama agenda, under the powerful gaze of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who pulls the strings of his Republican underlings in the senate.
Trust us, if McConnell gave his blessing to having hearings on the president’s qualified nominee, judge Merrick Garland, then Grassley would have conducted the hearings.
The senate’s role in judicial appointments is advise and consent, not to obstruct for political purposes. Grassley said the next president should get to pick Scalia’s replacement. It’s nonsense. It’s not what the authors of the Constitution had in mind.... And the system works, when those elected to oversee it let the system work. Grassley isn’t doing that. And he’s been pretty smug to those who would criticize his indifference to the beauty of the judicial-confirmation process envisioned more than two centuries ago.
An eight-member court is a disservice to the American people. And that’s laying at the feet of the senator."