Recommended Readings

7/19/2016 – Senate puts politics above Constitution
As President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court enters its third month of Senate Republican inaction, a great irony has emerged. The Supreme Court is the nation’s leading institution for interpreting the law. read full story

9/5/2016 – Senate needs to confirm federal judges for SC
No one likes to wait on hold. Unless you are an elevator music enthusiast, putting your life on hold can be difficult, even if just for a few minutes. Yet, our nation’s judicial nominees are waiting for months for the U.S. Senate to pick up the phone. read full story

8/22/2016 – A sworn duty to act: In not holding hearings on Garland, Senate Republicans are causing grave damage to the nation
The refusal of Senate Republicans to allow any hearing on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court is a reckless and dangerous act. The senators are shirking their duty to defend and support the Constitution and in the process are causing grave damage to our country. read full story

8/31/2016 – Texas suffers as Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn neglect to appoint judges
The U.S. Senate returns to Washington on September 6 after being in recess for more than seven weeks. Perhaps this long break will allow our senators to return to D.C. refreshed and ready to get work done. read full story

8/14/2016 – Another Voice: Taking the judicial system for granted is folly
The Constitution requires that the Senate give its advice and consent as to federal judicial nominations. By failing to do either, the Senate, in essence, is infringing on the president’s Article II power to nominate candidates and, more importantly, the Judiciary’s Article III power to adjudicate cases and controversies. read full story

8/21/2016 – End logjam of gridlock, fill federal court slots: Where We Stand
An emergency exists in Florida's federal court system and the group responsible for fixing the problem — the U.S. Senate — just yawns and shrugs its collective shoulders. Its no surprise that a branch of Congress is incapable of needed action, but the situation has grown dire. And it's not just Florida that is suffering. read full story

8/22/2016 – Letter: Sweet also deserves a vote on nomination
In her Aug. 14 Another Voice column in The News, Vanessa Glushefski writes of the extreme importance of the U.S. Senate doing its job and providing “advice and consent” on the president’s selection for the U.S. Supreme Court. She is absolutely correct. Merrick Garland has now been waiting longer than any other Supreme Court nominee. read full story

8/5/2016 – Senate Republicans’ inaction puts judiciary in crisis
The American judiciary is in crisis. This crisis, however, is not one of competence or capability. Instead, due to unprecedented inaction from the United States Senate, large swaths of the federal judiciary are simply missing — resulting in excessive delays, exploding dockets and inconsistent application of the law in different parts of the country. read full story

4/4/2016 – The Constitution as a Code of Honor
It would probably delight the late Justice Antonin Scalia to know that the fight over his successor was generating constitutional controversy. Indeed, like many controversies that Justice Scalia fueled, this one concerns not only the implications of particular clauses, but the very nature of constitutional law. read full story

7/19/2016 – More minority federal judges have been appointed under Democratic than Republican presidents
The first black judge to have been appointed by the president to the federal bench was William Henry Hastie, whom Franklin Delano Roosevelt named as a district court judge for the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1937. Harry Truman subsequently nominated Hastie to the appeals court in 1949. Since then, the federal court system – which includes the district, appellate, international trade and Supreme courts – has become increasingly diverse, with more judges who are racial or ethnic minorities. read full story

7/21/2016 – How the G.O.P. Outsourced the Judicial Nomination Process
The massacre of children and teachers in Newtown, Conn., didn’t do it. Neither did the mass murder of worshipers in Charleston, S.C., nor of county employees in San Bernardino, Calif., nor of people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Nor, most likely, will the recent coldblooded murders of police officers persuade the Republicans in Congress to enact even modest measures to make it harder for people to get their hands on weapons of destruction. read full story

7/15/2016 – Decoding the Thurmond Rule
As of today, July 15, 2016, there are currently 84 vacant Article III federal judgeships across the country, with over a dozen more that will come open in the next few months. In other words, approximately one in ten federal judgeships is currently sitting vacant, leading to judicial backlogs in the affected courts. read full story

7/19/2016 – Senate puts politics above Constitution
As President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court enters its third month of Senate Republican inaction, a great irony has emerged. The Supreme Court is the nation’s leading institution for interpreting the law. read full story

7/4/2016 – Federal judicial vacancies in Texas still an emergency
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. read full story

6/3/2016 – Will eight justices become the new normal?
With 24 cases still to decide this term and only eight justices to decide them, the Supreme Court has mustered all its resources to find (or manufacture) consensus. Many rulings — even those with lopsided majorities — hint strongly of compromise. read full story

6/2/2016 – The Senate Republicans, Merrick Garland and the Lessons of History
On February 13, the very day of Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stunningly announced that the Senate, under Republican control, would not consider any nominee President Barack Obama put forth to succeed Justice Scalia. read full story

6/2/2016 – Basu: All of America loses by leaving court vacancy open
A couple of former White House counsels — one to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, one to George W. Bush — came to Des Moines on Wednesday to warn Iowans about not having a fully functioning U.S. Supreme Court. read full story

5/31/2016 – Garland deserves a fair hearing, Sen. Toomey
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey recently wrote an op-ed to explain why he opposes Chief Judge Merrick Garland's U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Any senator has the right to oppose judicial nominations, but it is flatly irresponsible for Toomey to deny Garland a hearing or vote until the next president takes office in January 2017, or later. read full story

5/5/2016 – Republicans’ Refusal To Do Their Jobs Means Our Courts Cannot Do Theirs—And Americans Suffer
Senators have sworn a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution. That means taking seriously our responsibility to ensure that the Federal Judiciary – a co-equal and independent branch of government – can perform its function under our Constitution. read full story

4/21/2016 – Get In Line, SCOTUS. This Court Has Been Waiting 2,296 Days For A Judge.
The Supreme Court has been waiting two months for the Senate to do something about its empty seat. If you think that sounds like a long time, you haven’t heard about the federal circuit court in Wisconsin. It’s been waiting more than six years for a judge, and it’s not looking like Republicans will give the court one anytime soon, either. read full story

4/19/2016 – So Much For ‘Letting The People Decide’ The Supreme Court Nominee
The American people have spoken. A majority of them now say they want the Senate to vote this year on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. That’s according to a Tuesday NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. read full story

4/17/2016 – Agree or disagree, Baylor Law School panel smartly highlights supreme outrage
Just as justices on the Supreme Court of the United States occasionally (but not always) disagree, so, too, do constitutional scholars. While some insist Senate Republicans now violate the U.S. Constitution by refusing to conduct confirmation hearings for President Obama’s high court nominee, others disagree — but only to a point. read full story

4/13/2016 – President Obama Deserves a Vote on His Supreme Court Nominee
We’ve been with President Barack Obama since the beginning. As three of his senior advisers, we worked closely with the president on a host of important issues—few more important than assisting him with the judicial nominations and confirmations of Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan. Nominations are not taken lightly, and they can’t be, for too much is at stake for the American people. read full story

4/8/2016 – Former Bush official: Insist that Grassley do his job
One of the most important constitutional responsibilities of the president is to nominate qualified people for senior positions in the executive and judicial branches of the federal government. One of the most important constitutional responsibilities of the U.S. Senate is to provide “advice and consent” for these nominations in a process known as confirmation. read full story

3/22/2016 – What Would Scalia Do?
President Obama has selected his nominee: D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland. The Republican-controlled Senate has vowed to provide no hearings, no advice, and certainly no consent. read full story

3/25/2016 – GOP’s Supreme Court blowback: The Republicans’ case for obstruction is bad and getting worse
Orrin Hatch, one of the senior Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is on a one-man mission to save the American judiciary. As Hatch sees it, this branch of government is under terrible and imminent threat from a malign force that threatens to undermine its legitimacy and corrode the foundations of American democracy. read full story

3/25/2016 – President Obama: All I ask is that the Senate act fairly
Nominating a Supreme Court Justice is one of the most consequential roles our Constitution entrusts to any president. It’s a moment that demands us to rise above short-term politics in order to maintain the integrity of our democratic institutions. read full story

3/24/2016 – Senate should confirm Garland to high court
The U.S. Senate should act quickly to confirm federal court of appeals judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. By any measure, Garland is impeccably qualified. read full story

3/23/2016 – Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 9 Questions for the Next Justice
The American people deserve a full vetting of Obama’s nominee read full story

3/23/2016 – Bush Would Have Nominated Garland
As the chief ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel Office, I helped President George W. Bush with the nomination and confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. read full story

3/22/2016 – Could a New Supreme Court Justice Help Restore Fundamental Civil Liberties?
President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States, if confirmed, is an opportunity to restore important civil liberties that have been eroded over three decades of dominance by five conservative justices; and it gives the Court a chance to revisit its disastrous decision in Citizens United, which has fouled our electoral process with unprecedented torrents of money and influence. read full story

3/22/2016 – Massive resistance is GOP strategy
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists that Republican refusal to act on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is based on principle. Lawmakers merely are continuing to follow the Biden rule. read full story

3/22/2016 – US needs a government of laws, not people
Sometimes you don’t value what you have until you experience its absence close up. We each are deans of law schools; we each have seen, close up, nations without courts independent of political or partisan control. read full story

3/16/2016 – Garland: An Excellent Choice for the Supreme Court
Merrick Garland is an excellent choice to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He is unquestionably qualified for the position, having served for 19 years as a judge on the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — the court just below the Supreme Court. read full story

3/15/2016 – There Is No ‘Biden Rule’
For those concerned about the Senate’s unprecedented power grab in refusing to consider anyone President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has an answer: The Judiciary Committee is merely following the Biden Rules. read full story

3/11/2016 – The Absurdity of Senate Republicans’ Efforts to Scuttle a Supreme Court Nomination
"A novel and absurd notion," is how leading legal scholars and historians describe Senate Republicans' obstinate refusal to consider President Obama's forthcoming nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death. read full story

3/9/2016 – Getting the Senate’s responsibilities on Supreme Court nominations right
One hundred years from now, people will look back upon the year 2016 in wonder. 2016 was the eighth and final year of the presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American elected to the nation’s highest office. 2016 was the year of a presidential election, possibly destined to be historic with the election as president of either the first woman or the first person to come directly from the world of business and with no prior experience in public office. read full story

3/8/2016 – Shun a President’s Supreme Court Nominee? Alexander Hamilton Would Not Be Pleased
Alexander Hamilton, that visionary Founding Father and hip-hop phenomenon, thanks to Hamilton, the musical, has been celebrated of late on Broadway and at the Grammys. read full story

3/7/2016 – Al Franken, Dave Durenberger: There’s no excuse for digging in on Supreme Court vacancy
The Constitution is very clear about what must happen now, in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing: “The President shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” a replacement. read full story

3/7/2016 – Johnson and GOP should answer Constitution’s call
It all happened so quickly. I was watching the news when I heard about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia when a CNN news alert popped up on my phone to tell me Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the next president, not President Barack Obama, should be the one to fill the vacancy. read full story

3/6/2016 – Confirmation Hearings Bring Sunshine To The Court
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a staunch believer in open government, famously said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Transparency enables the American people to hold their government accountable and to engage in the democratic process. read full story

3/5/2016 – Harkin: Leaving SUPCO seat vacant would be unprecedented
During my 30 years in the U.S. Senate, I had occasion to vote on many Supreme Court judges. I voted “yes” on some, “no” on others, but at no time was it ever seriously proposed that we not vote on a nominee. Even further from any rational consideration was the proposal that the majority party, whether Democrat or Republican, would refuse to even meet with a nominee or refuse to hold hearings in the Judiciary Committee and refuse to vote on a nominee. read full story

3/5/2016 – A judge’s view: Delay in seating Supreme Court’s ninth justice leaves crucial work undone
With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court is down to eight justices, and a debate rages over whether President Barack Obama should nominate a successor or defer selection to the next president. read full story

2/15/2016 – Grassley sidesteps Constitution on judiciary
When a vacancy occurs on any federal court, the Constitution directs the president to nominate persons to fill that vacancy. No one else is authorized by the Constitution to make nominations. Only the president has that power. read full story

3/3/2016 – Legal Experts Across U.S. Urge Senate to Fulfill Its Constitutional Duties
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proclamation that Republican senators will block anyone nominated by President Obama to replace Supreme Court Justice Scalia was followed by immediate condemnation from legal experts. Ignoring those objections, McConnell doubled down, making clear that GOP senators would not only vote down an Obama pick but would not even hold hearings or meet with prospective nominees. read full story

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