Opinion: Anti-Obama Republicans have created a judicial emergency

Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, speaks to the media on Dec. 6. Earlier this year, Cornyn announced his opposition to U.S. District Judge Lucy Haeran Koh’s nomination by President Obama to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
(Sait Serkan Gurbuz / Associated Press)

To the editor: The Times editorial board accurately describes the severely deteriorated state of federal judicial selection and suggests that Republican obstruction during President Obama’s two terms in office is substantially responsible for the 100-plus current vacancies. (“Another judicial dirty trick from Senate Republicans,” editorial, Jan. 3)

Indeed, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals currently has four openings, all of which have been declared judicial emergencies. The editorial astutely states that Democrats could retaliate by similarly obstructing President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees. It also correctly observes that Trump could and should “make a significant gesture toward restoring a measure of normality” to the selection process by renominating the Obama nominees left stranded by GOP obstruction to be confirmed with bipartisan approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

However, Obama can and should re-submit those nominees now, and the Senate should confirm them immediately.


Carl Tobias, Richmond, Va.

The writer is a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.


To the editor: Your article is so true. Sadly, the lack of action on judicial appointments is only one example of the harm the GOP has inflicted on our judicial system, behavior which I believe contributes to the cynicism that seems to permeate our country.

But taking your advice one step further: Trump should nominate Garland Merrick to the Supreme Court. He has already been approved by a strong bipartisan group of senators for his current position on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. His prior appointment makes it difficult to argue he isn’t eminently qualified for the Supreme Court.

Trump would send a clear message he is not an ideologue, thus giving the country a reason to hope for a real change in the war in Congress. Right-wing lawmakers would scream, but so what? They could not legitimately question Garland’s qualifications.

The country would win by having a full Supreme Court and an appointment that is not ideological. We would also have renewed hope that Trump will really be an independent and refreshing change for the entire country.

Jeffrey Wade, San Diego


To the editor: The Times wastes editorial space with a virtual rehash of similar piece late last year that covered the same ground but specifically urged Trump to end partisan judicial nominee conflict by re-nominating Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Let me use poor but powerful English to sum up the possibility of Trump re-nominating Garland and other judges selected by Obama: He ain’t gonna. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has played and won a brilliant chess game to shape the very fabric of our culture.

The Times should use its bully pulpit for thought-provoking editorials that might have some effect and skip the reruns. Here one for this issue: Let’s hold our noses for a few months until the stench of Trump’s inauguration passes, then suggest that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and McConnell work together to propose fixed but lengthy terms for the federal judiciary.

The lifetime term for federal judges is what scares these pols into this vile gamesmanship. There’s a growing consensus this is the real solution to this problem.

Mark Diniakos, Thousand Oaks

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