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What They're Saying in California about the Supreme Court Nomination

Leaders in California are speaking out and telling Senate Republicans to do their job.

Across the Golden State, people continue to speak out against Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their job and give Judge Garland a hearing and vote. From business leaders, to elected officials, to local newspapers, California voices are supporting Senators Feinstein and Boxer as they call to keep partisanship out of the Supreme Court—and to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.

Carol Leslie Hamilton, Attorney at the Law Office of Carol Leslie Hamilton: “Senator Grassley said the president shouldn’t nominate a Supreme Court justice because the people should have a say in who makes that decision when they go to the polls in November. Americans had their say in 2012 when they re-elected President Obama to carry out the constitutional duties of the presidency. Those duties include putting forth a qualified nominee whenever a vacancy on the Supreme Court occurs. The Senate’s refusal to consider Judge Garland’s nomination is a dereliction of their constitutional duty and nullifies the votes cast by millions of Americans.”

Bruce Greenhaus, Partner at Greenhaus & Pendergrass, LLP: “In the past several years, the SCOTUS has issued several important patent law opinions. There are several more that are pending. It is critical for my clients to know the state of the law. Not knowing who the 9th Justice will be creates uncertainty regarding the state of the patent laws. Therefore, the sooner the vacancy is filled, the more certainty for my clients.”

Ray Bishop, Los Angeles County Small Business Commissioner and Chair of the California Democratic Party’s Business & Professional Caucus: “Our business community, especially small businesses, is suffering from a dysfunctional judicial system that is based on a pay to play system. We need to fix this problem from the top down to provide for economic equality. We need a fully functional judicial system to protect our business community as well as our principle of ‘equal justice under the law.’”

Jonathan Beutler, Managing Director at Pacific Rim Global Advisory: “Most importantly, this politicization of the Supreme Court is symbolically significant to those who look to the U.S. for leadership. For us who are based in the United States and do international work, this situation causes concern among our foreign partners. They view this political gridlock as possibly having a long-term negative impact on the U.S. ability to lead on the global stage.”

Phillip Kopp, CEO of Conectric Networks: “The supreme court justice is a lifetime appointment and should be treated as such. This is a non-partisan responsibility and should be held by the most qualified individual, not one whose vote will be counted on by one party or another. Any justice will likely work through various political terms and party majorities throughout their appointment. It is in the interest of business, the American people, and pending trials to resolve the Supreme Court vacancy in the most efficient and expedient way possible, including consideration of the appointment made legally by our current President. Unless based on true merits, further delays are unreasonable.”

Bob Nelson, San Diego Port Commissioner and California Film Commissioner: “Vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court could result in delays on critical trade and intellectual property decisions. Hopefully the U.S. Senate will approve the appointment of a new Justice, not put our economy on hold for a year while they play politics.”

Brigette Hunley, President of BHC: “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid stated that it is ‘unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat.’ The seat should be filled by nominee Merrick Garland. A seat left vacant creates instability and instability is bad for business.”

Darryl Horowitt, Partner at Coleman & Horowitt, LLP: “As a lawyer who represents businesses throughout California, it is imperative that the Senate act on President Obama's SCOTUS nomination. This is not about politics but about allowing the most important court in the nation to do its business as the Constitution intended.”

Luis Robles, CEO of Robles AerialZeus, LLC: “The uncertainty on a well-balanced court is not fair to organizations. The rule of law must prevail, and the Senate should do its job on proposing a vote, whatever the outcome. If they do not do their job, as we in private industry do, we will fire them all in the next elections.”

Luis Eternod, Director of Marketing and Sales at Pacific Aviation and Lease Management: “Business would like to plan around a set situation. What it will be is not as important as knowing what is in place for the long term. Having the nine justices in place is what the long term has been historically. The sooner this is resolved better. The uncertainty is the worst scenario for any business.”

Ellee Koss, Founder of – High Performance Consulting: “The message being sent by the leadership of congress is a dangerous one. As role models, your actions are legitimizing a way of acting that is consistent with a disregard for responsibility and respect for rules. Please act accordingly and appropriately and move the nomination forward.”

Jeff Bleich, CEO of Dentons Diplomatic Solutions: “Uncertainty is bad for business. A prolonged vacancy on the court not only leaves many issues potentially unresolved over two Supreme Court terms, but the failure of the Senate to act also unsettles our international clients and their investors,” said  in San Francisco. “They respect the impartiality of our bench; when the Court's efforts can be limited or delayed for political reasons, it shakes their faith in our system.”

Brandon Baum, Adjunct Professor of Law at University of California Hastings: “Legal uncertainties are anathema to doing business. The Senate should advise and either consent or decline to consent to the President's nominee.”

Greg Wendt, Co-Founder of Living Economy Advisors: “The discord in politics adversely impacts the financial markets and increases unnecessary concern for our clients both domestically and internationally. Additionally, the tarnished image of America makes it more difficult to get overseas wealth management clients.”

Steven Wilburn, CEO of Firm Green, Inc.: “We need nine justices as our founding fathers wisely ordained. Given a prolonged 4-4 deadlock, vital questions about our nation’s laws and the Constitution will be left unanswered. Local laws being considered on appeal by the Supreme Court that can materially impact my business will likely remain different from one state to the next. This will result in confusion and additional legal compliance expenses.”

State Sen. Kevin de Leon: “With President Obama fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to nominate justices to the Supreme Court, announcing the incredibly qualified Chief Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee today, it is time the U.S. Senate fulfill its responsibility to the American people as well. I urge Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and his colleagues seriously consider this nomination. If the U.S. Senate evaluates and confirms Judge Garland it would restore confidence in the institution and turn the page on the utter disregard Senate Republicans have shown toward this presidency.”

Mercury News: Sen. Barbara Boxer: Garland nomination deserves a hearing and a vote (Op-Ed). “The president did his job last week when he nominated an exceedingly well-qualified nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. As chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the second most important court in the country, Merrick Garland has earned deep respect across party lines and brings more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. In the coming weeks, I will do my job, too. I plan to meet with Judge Garland, review his record and rulings, and urge Republicans to do their job by holding hearings and a vote. Article II, Section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution is very clear on the role of the president and the Senate in filling vacancies on the Supreme Court: Once the president has made a nomination, the Senate must provide ‘advice and consent’s on the nominee. It does not say that the Senate should fulfill its constitutional duty unless the president is a Democrat serving in his final year.”

Sacramento Bee: A Supreme Court ‘no comment’ in Texas case is not acceptable (Editorial). “The broader issues involve whether Congress will do its job. So far, House Speaker Paul Ryan is failing the country by not finding a compromise immigration policy that recognizes 11 million immigrants are here without authorization. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is failing the country by refusing to act on Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat.”

Lompoc Record: Building nation for everyone (Editorial). “That is another demonstration of how politics can work contrary to the public interest. Voter ID and similar restrictions foster less voting, which works in favor of a small portion of one party. How can that be good for true democracy?  Perhaps that is what is really behind the GOP’s drawing a line in the sand on Obama’s Supreme Court nomination. The irony is that Judge Garland would likely be middle-of-the-road philosophically as a Supreme Court justice, which means he could tip the balance in favor of the conservative perspective on any number of issues.  All of which tends to support the view that resistance to Garland’s nomination is aimed specifically at Obama. More irony — indications are the next president will be a Democrat, who could nominate constitutional scholar Barack Obama to the Supreme Court. He likely would not take the job, but it’s something to consider.”  

San Diego Union Tribune: Tie Supreme Court vote illustrates Senate GOP’s folly (Editorial). “The Friedrichs case is less problematic because the 4-4 vote upholds existing precedents on public employee unions collecting fees from workers to pay for union activities. But there are important pending cases involving abortion rights and affirmative action in which different appellate courts could well diverge — meaning no nationally accepted standards on two vitally important public policies.  That’s already happened in a more arcane policy field. In the Supreme Court’s first 4-4 decision since Justice Antonin Scalia died, justices failed to resolve Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore, which dealt with whether two women were liable for their husbands’ business loans under federal law. As The Atlantic magazine noted, because of differing rulings in the 6th and 8th U.S. appellate circuits, in some states this means the women’s liability depends on whether they live east or west of the Mississippi River.  How absurd. But unless the Senate does its job, such absurdities may become common. This is already a national embarrassment.”

San Francisco Chronicle: An empty seat on the Supreme Court leaves law unsettled (Editorial). “The U.S. Supreme Court is entering no-man’s land, a place where key legal issues aren’t resolved and political paralysis reigns. The high court found itself tied 4 to 4 on an important test of union power, the first of possibly many more showdowns in which a missing justice could have cast a deciding vote….. But his nomination remains stalled by obdurate Republican senators who want to wait until after the November election, hoping to give a GOP president a chance to make the pick. That strategy denies Obama his right to make a choice, one of his duties of office….. Come October, when the court begins its next legal term, there may be an empty seat and a string of critical issues that risk the same four-to-four, do-nothing math. Waiting for a new president puts on heavy brake on the consequential work of the court….  Unless the Senate’s Republican leadership relents, this might be just the first in a series of deadlocks that effectively prevent the high court from having the final say on significant matters of constitutional law.”

Los Angeles Times: Ending the Supreme Court stalemate (Editorial). “Obama is in good company in sounding such an alarm. Last month, in remarks delivered before Scalia's death, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lamented the politicization of the confirmation process.  Noting that Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were confirmed by virtually unanimous votes in 1986 and 1993, respectively, Roberts said that in recent years the process had become much more partisan, with Democratic senators opposing Republican nominees and vice versa. ‘That suggests to me,’ Roberts said, ‘that the process is being used for something other than ensuring the qualifications of the nominees.’  Of course, some would argue that the Senate should be guided not only by professional qualifications but by concerns about whether a nominee would move the court to the right or to the left. (That, not a desire to give voters a say in Scalia's replacement, is the real reason for the Republicans' resistance to Garland.) But the court and the country are ill served by this approach. It's better for the Senate generally to focus on qualifications and accept that every president, by virtue of his election, has the right to try to shape the court. Presidents, meanwhile, should realize that if they put forward nominees who are too far outside the mainstream, the Senate will put up a fight.  Based on his comments last month, it would seem that the chief justice agrees. He would be doing his court and the Constitution a favor by explicitly calling on the Senate to do its job and give Garland a fair hearing.”

Santa Maria Times: Grinding gears of politics (Editorial). “In some ways, the approaching battle over President Obama’s choice to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court explains Donald Trump’s astonishing political ascent.  Obama’s nominee, appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, is a judicial moderate who has won the praise of top Republicans in the past. By nominating Garland, the Obama administration has put the GOP in a real bind….The ultimate irony here is that the candidate so many Republicans seem to have adopted as their hero is the very definition of ‘obsessed with and controlled by’ self-interest. It will be interesting to see if those GOP senators facing re-election will play along with McConnell’s line-in-the-sand strategy. All Garland needs for confirmation is a handful of Republican votes, and it’s difficult to imagine how naysayers would justify denying the nominee so much as a hearing, when so many of those same senators sang Garland’s praises in the recent past.  The GOP hardliners’ major theme is that the vacant seat should be filled by the next president, to be chosen in November, so the American people will have been given a voice and a choice in the Supreme Court seating arrangements.  That argument crumbles in the face of reality. The American people already made such a choice, twice in fact, to elect and re-elect the person responsible for filling vacant court seats. Obama is fulfilling his responsibility as president, as many of his predecessors have done. If it had been a Republican in the White House the past seven years-plus, he or she would be doing just as Obama is doing.”

Fresno Bee: Obstructionist McConnell stiffs a qualified nominee (Editorial). “President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional obligation Wednesday by nominating an obviously well-qualified jurist to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by restating his intransigent stand that the Republican-controlled Senate would not deign to meet with the nominee, Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court for the D.C. circuit, the nation’s most prestigious appellate court.  It is, McConnell claimed, a matter of principle. It’s not. It is obstructionist politics at its base and gives voters yet more cause for disgust with the state of discourse in Washington.  Senators are supposed to provide advice and consent. Rejection is a prerogative. But McConnell’s refusal to even meet with a qualified nominee and respected jurist drives the process further into dysfunction.”

Los Angeles Times: Senate Republicans’ Refusal To Consider Merrick Garland's Supreme Court Nomination Is Dangerous Obstructionism (Editorial). “Senate Republicans' refusal to consider Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination is dangerous obstructionism… The stubborn refusal of Senate Republicans to consider any Supreme Court nominee offered by President Obama would be outrageous, regardless of whom the president selected to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. But Obama's announcement Wednesday that he will nominate Merrick Garland, a moderate federal appeals court judge who has won bipartisan praise during a long and distinguished legal career, puts the Republicans' irresponsibility and cheap partisanship in even starker relief.  Garland, 63, is the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on which he served with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who once said that ‘any time Judge Garland disagrees, you know you're in a difficult area.’ … The Garland nomination comes at a moment when cynicism and partisan politics in Washington are threatening Congress' ability to do its work, to pass necessary laws, to reach compromise on the basis of shared values and to push the country forward. On Wednesday, President Obama warned, in the rational, non-histrionic manner that we may all be remembering fondly if President Trump controls the White House, that an abdication of the Senate's duty to consider Garland will indicate that the judicial nomination process is ‘beyond repair.’  If Senate Republicans can't be reasoned or shamed into abandoning their obstructionism, the damage won't be confined to this nomination. ‘It will provoke an endless cycle of more tit-for-tat, and make it increasingly impossible for any president, Democrat or Republican, to carry out their constitutional function,’ Obama said. ‘The reputation of the Supreme Court will inevitably suffer. Faith in our justice system will inevitably suffer. Our democracy will ultimately suffer, as well.’  Does the Republican Party, which is already experiencing a crisis of public confidence, really want to assume responsibility for that state of affairs?”

San Francisco Chronicle: Don’t Play Politics With Supreme Court Nominee (Editorial). “President Obama’s choice of federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland is getting a stone-cold response from GOP leaders. No hearings, no debate, no vote — never mind the constitutional duties to review the nominee.... Garland’s background, at least initially, more than qualifies him for the post. His record, recommendations from colleagues and a prior Senate approval vote all argue for his selection to the high court. But none of his background can be vetted without the Senate’s quizzing and review.... Republicans are creating a political hurdle that ignores the Constitution’s dictates on divisions of responsibilities, and undermines the dignity and independence of the nation’s highest court.”

Mercury News: Garland is superb court nominee (Editorial). “Merrick Garland is a superb nomination by President Obama to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  The chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit is a moderate who is widely respected by both Democrats and Republicans for his integrity, judgment, intellect and basic decency. It would be a irresponsible for Republicans in the U.S. Senate to withhold consideration of Garland's nomination for strictly political reasons.  Nearly 65 percent of Americans support the call for the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on the nomination. The failure to proceed only furthers the destructive gridlock that has sadly marked Congress' work during President Obama's tenure in the Oval Office.”

Ventura County Star: Republicans should not play politics with Supreme Court nominee (Editorial). “President Barack Obama has named an eminently qualified and highly respected judge, Merrick Garland, as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.  If you read his background, if you look at the legal opinions he has written in the 18 years he has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, you will find him to be a good person with a great legal mind.  He is a nominee that meets all of our criteria for someone who will raise the legal and intellectual level of the Supreme Court.  But he will not even get a hearing before the Senate until at least after the November election.  It is just one more partisan, divisive obstruction that is legitimately causing many people to worry about the fraying of our Constitution.  There has been, and always will be, politics involved in the nomination of Supreme Court justices. The American people elect a president to serve four-year terms. When there is an opening on the court during that term, the president selects a nominee who in all likelihood is politically as well as legally acceptable to the president. When we pick a president, that is what we expect.”