Judicial Nominations - Recommended Reading

3/5/2018 – How Donald Trump is remaking the law in his own image

No president has been doing so much so fast to transform the law in America. Just as no president has shown such little regard for its norms and traditions.

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12/17/2017 – Venue of last resort: the climate lawsuits threatening the future of big oil
In early October, 22 state and federal judges hailing from Honolulu to Albany got a crash course in scientific literacy and economics. The three-day symposium was billed as a way to help the judges better scrutinize evidence used to defend government regulations. read full story

12/21/2017 – Why Judges Matter
The Trump administration's increasingly bizarre war on abortion continues as immigration officials keep trying to block access to abortion for pregnant undocumented teenagers in their custody.read full story

12/26/2017 – 4 steps to restore thorough Senate vetting of judicial nominees
Earlier this month, Americans across the country watched in disbelief as one of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, Matthew Petersen, struggled to answer basic legal questions from a senator. The viral video — which has now been viewed over 8.6 million times — made clear just how important it is for the Senate to do its job and carefully review the nominations of this or any president to lifetime seats on the federal judiciary. read full story

9/13/2017 – 10 Things You Need to Know about Blue Slips
As President Trump seeks to dramatically pack the judiciary with conservative, ideological judges, attention has turned to blue slips—little blue pieces of paper that home-state Senators have returned for a hundred years and allow judicial nominees to proceed to confirmation. read full story

11/1/2017 – The sham of judiciary nomination hearings
Our Senate Judiciary nominations hearings, I believe, have become something of a joke. Nominees come to us readied for our hearings by "murder boards" that taught them how to withstand all five minutes of questioning by Senators. Nominees are often packed into panels, so a Senator’s five minutes get spread across multiple nominees. read full story

12/7/2017 – On Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley’s Decision to Abandon the Blue Slip Tradition
As the longest-serving member of the United States Senate and a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I feel obligated to speak up about the steady erosion of the Judiciary Committee’s norms and traditions. I am deeply troubled that Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has decided to reverse his blue slip policy. read full story

7/5/2017 – The Most Important Question for Trump Judicial Nominees
It wasn’t that long ago that “litmus test” was a dirty phrase in judicial nominations. In the late 1970s, I clerked for a distinguished Jimmy Carter appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. My judge was troubled that, en route to his nomination, he had been asked by the Carter administration for his general views on affirmative action—views that, as it happened, were entirely in accord with the president’s. He believed, however, if an outstanding lawyer had been a loyal member of the president’s party, it was inappropriate to impose any more fine-grained test of a potential judge’s ideological compatibility. read full story

6/21/2017 – Trump’s Most Lasting Legacy?
With the investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign, the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the already controversial healthcare bill and the never-ending saga of Press Secretary Sean Spicer, it would seem that the Trump administration is in a tailspin, grappling daily with an onslaught of unforced errors and unforeseen consequences, too busy putting out the latest fire (or dousing it with gasoline) to pay too much heed to actually moving the ball forward. read full story

4/13/2017 – The Broken Supreme Court
When he was discussing military strategy or diplomacy, Gen. Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, liked to invoke what he called the Pottery Barn rule: “If you break it, you own it.” Well, the Republicans broke the Supreme Court confirmation process. Now they own the Supreme Court. read full story

4/3/2017 – Judge Gorsuch is more dangerous than he appears
He sounds so judicial. He talks about neutrality, raising plain vanilla issues about deference to the expertise of administrative agencies. It is boring, hardly likely to engender indignation. He says his decisions are required by the law — not affected by his own background. He is Judge Neil Gorsuch and he may soon be on the Supreme Court. Don’t be fooled. His approach is not neutral, not required by the law, andfar out of the mainstream. Quite apart from social issues like abortion or gay rights, his approach could gut health and safety and antidiscrimination laws. read full story

4/3/2017 – Gorsuch May Be Trump’s Last ‘Well Qualified’ Judge
In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with the decision by Donald Trump’s White House to stop the practice of giving the American Bar Association access to its judicial nominees in order to rate them. But in practice, the decision is scary and hypocritical -- because the administration waited until after the ABA gave Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch its highest rating before making it. read full story

4/1/2017 – Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch picks and chooses past precedents
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch says judges should focus "backward, not forward" when deciding cases by looking, among other things, to past court precedents. But through more than 20 hours of testimony before Congress, he only grudgingly endorsed the oldest and most popular of those precedents, refusing to offer his opinions on those decided in recent decades and by narrow majorities. read full story

3/30/2017 – The 12 Times Republicans Insisted on a 60-Vote Threshold for Obama’s Judicial Nominees
Many Senate Democrats believe that a Supreme Court nominee should be within the mainstream and therefore able to earn the support of 60 Senators. Given the stakes, this hardly seems unreasonable, but Republicans now claim that a 60-vote threshold for judicial nominees would be unfair. read full story

3/29/2017 – Forget Gorsuch: Trump’s lower court nomination may be more important
There has been considerable talk and speculation about President Trump's next pick for the Supreme Court. With all the attention focused on the hearings over the president's first nomination to the Supreme Court — Judge Neil Gorsuch — let alone all the other stories swirling around the Beltway, one might have missed the fact that the president has named his first nominee to a lower federal court. read full story

3/29/2017 – The Fundamental Dishonesty of the Gorsuch Hearings
Soon after his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch confided to a number of senators that President Trump’s attacks on federal judges are “disheartening and demoralizing.” Is there a better description of the Gorsuch nomination itself, and the fundamentally dishonest process by which it is slouching toward confirmation? read full story

3/29/2017 – Dishonesty from both parties on Gorsuch
Republicans are trying to rewrite recent history regarding the Supreme Court vacancy. Their constituents should call them out for it. In an op-ed for The Arizona Republic, Sen. Jeff Flake declared, "Even President Obama's two Supreme Court nominees were recognized for their ability to do the job and confirmed without incident." read full story

4/3/2017 – Behind Neil Gorsuch’s Non-Answers
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the diminutive liberal colossus of the Supreme Court, has built a distinguished record as a Justice, but her legacy as a nominee is more dubious. In her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in 1993, she refused to answer most questions about how, if confirmed, she would rule. In an oft-quoted phrase, she vowed to give “no hints, no forecasts, no previews.” Nominees have invoked this stonewall ever since. Last week, Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s choice to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia, proved an especially ardent follower of what has come to be known as the Ginsburg rule. read full story

3/20/2017 – What Does Originalism Mean to Judge Gorsuch?
Confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court justices are an occasion for a national conversation about constitutional law and interpretation. Because Judge Neil Gorsuch is being billed as an originalist, his hearings this week are a great opportunity to ask him five pressing questions about that much-vaunted school of constitutional thought. read full story

3/20/2017 – How Dare You Question Our Precious Nominee?
It is an article of faith among Senate Republicans that everything liberals do is just goddamn awful, from the unelected left-wing justices who “legislate from the bench” to the blocking of Robert Bork in 1987 to the lame cries for equal treatment of everyone under the law. read full story

3/21/2017 – Gorsuch’s Nomination Is the Fruit of a Broken Confirmation Process
Now that we’re done making nice, here’s my question for Judge Neil Gorsuch: What campaign promises did you make to get this job, and do you intend to keep them? read full story

3/19/2017 – Viewpoints: Why splitting the 9th Circuit is a bad idea
The debate over whether to divide the 9th Circuit is a political masquerade in search of a principle. The principle should be just and fair decisions rendered as timely as possible. It’s time to remove the masks and reveal the facts. read full story

3/20/2017 – Gorsuch’s Selective View of ‘Religious Freedom’
As the Judiciary Committee hearings for Judge Neal Gorsuch begin, I retain my impression that he is in his way a splendid fellow, intelligent and hard working, and, as near as I can tell, devoid of the streak of jack-in-office meanness that mars the legacy of his predecessor, Antonin Scalia. read full story

3/17/2017 – The “True Loyalty,” Political Connections, and Conservative Ties that Have Fueled Gorsuch’s Rise
In November 2004, Neil Gorsuch oversaw legal teams in Eastern and Central Ohio for the Bush-Cheney campaign. In an email to President George W. Bush’s Political Director Matt Schlapp, he cheered, “What a magnificent result for the country. For me personally, the experience was invigorating and a great deal of fun.” (The experience for up to 15,000 people unable to vote in Columbus, Ohio because lines stretched for hours was probably less invigorating or fun.) read full story

3/20/2017 – Neil Gorsuch does not belong on the Supreme Court
When Justice Antonin Scalia died last year, giant corporations and their right-wing buddies spent millions of dollars to keep the Supreme Court seat open so that Donald Trump could fill the vacancy. It was only the latest step in their campaign to tilt our courts in favor of big corporations and the wealthy. Now, the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is their reward. Anyone who believes in a neutral Supreme Court guided by equal justice for all should oppose this nomination. read full story

3/20/2017 – Dear Senator Bennet: What You Say Tomorrow Is More Important Than How You Vote
You are my senator. I am a fourth generation Coloradan. I live in Denver. I am a tenured professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. I met you at one of your fundraising events last fall, where I was honored to talk briefly with you and inspired by your remarks. And I was very proud to vote for you last November. read full story

3/20/2017 – Gorsuch: Picked for Court by Federalist Society?
Neil Gorsuch comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week as a Supreme Court nominee not so much from Donald Trump as from two influential conservative legal groups: the Heritage Foundation and the conservative-libertarian Federalist Society. Gorsuch came to Trump's attention during the campaign from a list of 21 potential Supreme Court candidates the two legal groups put together at his request. read full story

3/14/2017 – This Is How Neil Gorsuch Thinks
“A trucker was stranded on the side of the road, late at night, in cold weather, and his trailer brakes were stuck,” wrote appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, last August, in a dissenting opinion that is apt to come up at his confirmation hearings next week for the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. read full story

3/13/2017 – Gorsuch May Be Supreme Court’s Most Religiously Motivated Justice
In a January interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Donald Trump promised a nominee for the Supreme Court that "evangelicals, Christians will love." In Neil Gorsuch, Trump has nominated a judge more religiously motivated than perhaps even the staunchest religious conservatives sitting on the Court today. His confirmation would place on this nation's highest court a man who has readily allowed the religious convictions of a few to govern the lives of all Americans. read full story

3/10/2017 – Qualifications for a federal judgeship: the ‘Minnesota way’
The question of what makes a good judge, and even an exceptional judge, is always a timely question. This question now occupies center stage here in Minnesota because there are two vacancies on our federal bench. Rep. Erik Paulsen has established a search committee chaired by Kathleen Blatz, retired chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and Bert McKasy, of counsel at Lindquist & Vennum, former state representative, and former commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. read full story

3/9/2017 – What Brown can do for Democrats in examining Gorsuch
At Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, the judge, like all recent nominees, will try to avoid revealing much information about his approach to judging. Instead, he will promise not to “legislate from the bench,” to “apply the law and not make it,” not to be an “activist judge,” and not to allow his “personal views” to influence the outcome of cases. read full story

3/2/2017 – Neil Gorsuch should be required to answer questions
Senate Democrats should vote against the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch, including by a filibuster, if he does not answer questions about his judicial philosophy. Gorsuch is 49 years old. If he remains on the Supreme Court until he is 90, the age at which Justice John Paul Stevens retired, Gorsuch will be a justice for 41 years until the year 2058. The stakes are thus enormous and the Senate and the American people should know what they are getting before anyone is given a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court. read full story

3/2/2017 – Postpone the Gorsuch Hearings
Within a few hours of Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death last year, Senate Republicans decreed that then-President Barack Obama could not fill his seat. Why? Because Obama had completed three years of his four-year term. The Supreme Court was too important. The voters, they contended, should decide Scalia’s successor through the proxy of the 2016 presidential election. Any other action, they insisted, would tarnish the constitutional legitimacy of the appointment. This transcendently important constitutional process, they warned, must not be rushed. read full story

2/28/2017 – Judge Neil Gorsuch: Likable, but dangerous
Given what I’ve read in the press, Neil Gorsuch seems like a nice person — the sort I wouldn’t mind grabbing a beer with. But confirming justices for lifetime positions on the Supreme Court should not — and cannot — be a popularity contest or about personality alone. Our Constitution demands that the Senate fully examine the record and judicial philosophy of the nominee. read full story

2/23/2017 – Gorsuch’s record does not paint him as a friend to women
The Feb. 19 front-page article “Gorsuch reliably right, but intensely attentive” relied on one case to try to paint Judge Neil Gorsuch as not predictably conservative. I helped represent the female victims in that lawsuit as a lawyer with the National Women’s Law Center. read full story

2/22/2017 – Ensuring judicial independence will require Senate independence
The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist once described the independent judiciary as “one of the crown jewels of our system of government.” That is because the judiciary, insulated by life tenure from elections, can provide a necessary check on the other two branches of government and uphold the constitutional rights of all Americans. read full story

2/23/2017 – Six Questions Senators Should Ask Neil Gorsuch
Senators love to talk. It’s listening that they can’t abide. This explains the maddening nature of most Senate hearings, especially those for nominees to the Supreme Court. Senators are so busy showing off how much they know, or posturing on issues they care about (which are often unrelated to the work of the courts), that the nominee often has little to do but sit there and appear interested. This, of course, is usually fine with the nominee, who has, in any event, been trained to say as little as possible. read full story

2/15/2017 – Neil Gorsuch could be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court
Last week, President Trump pleased conservatives when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. He looks to have made good on his promise to appoint a conservative justice to the Court. Court watchers are now left to wonder: how conservative will Gorsuch be? Our analysis suggests that if confirmed, Gorsuch might be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court. read full story

– Statement of Sen. Coons (D-Del.): The larger issue here is that judicial independence is at risk

2/10/2017 – Charles Schumer: Judge Gorsuch, We Won’t Be Fooled Again
Just three weeks in, the Trump administration has tested the limits of executive power, violated the separation of powers and shaken the very roots of the Constitution. A particular theme of President Trump’s first days in office has been contempt for the judicial branch as a check on his authority: He criticized individual judges, preemptively blamed them for all future terrorist attacks and ridiculed the court system as “disgraceful.” read full story

2/9/2017 – The Tricky Politics of Neil Gorsuch and President Trump’s Insults to Judges
Neil Gorsuch‘s road to the Supreme Court was always going to be tricky. Nominated by a man who has personally attacked judges when he’s worried they won’t agree with him, Gorsuch was going to have to tiptoe around President Donald Trump‘s disregard for judicial independence. But when Gorsuch spoke out against Trump’s judicial criticism during private meetings — and the President fired back on Twitter — it showed the stakes of the game on both sides. read full story

2/8/2017 – Key outside groups in the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process
Shortly after President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, opponents of the nomination gathered outside the courthouse for a demonstration organized by several left-leaning interest groups, including the Alliance for Justice, the Center for American Progress, People for the American Way, the Leadership Conference, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. read full story

2/6/2017 – President Trump’s Real Fear: The Courts

When President Trump doesn’t get what he wants, he tends to look for someone to blame — crooked pollsters, fraudulent voters, lying journalists. Anyone who questions him or his actions becomes his foe. Over the past few days, he’s added an entire branch of the federal government to his enemies list.

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2/7/2017 – Neil Gorsuch Needs 60 Votes
In a little more than two weeks, President Donald Trump has put an unprecedented strain on the Constitution. He’s unleashed a flurry of legally dubious executive orders, including his travel ban designed to keep people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering our country. read full story

2/6/2017 – Gorsuch Nomination Puts Spotlight on Agency Powers
The nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court raises the question about how his judicial philosophy might affect issues related to the investigation and prosecution of white-collar crime. Of course, one new justice — assuming approval by the Senate — will not necessarily change how the court rules. read full story