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

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

Across the Bay 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 legal scholars, to local newspapers, Massachusetts voices are supporting Senators Warren and Markey as they call to keep partisanship out of the Supreme Court—and to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.

Boston Globe: Martha Minow and Deanell Tacha: US needs a government of laws, not people (Op-Ed). “Senate refusal to proceed severely injects politics into the selection process and jeopardizes the effective operation of our nation’s highest court. Lacking the ninth justice for what might extend to 12 or more months risks leaving critical matters unresolved, freezing individuals, businesses, and communities in limbo and uncertainty. Two-thirds of Americans want the senators to do their job: Meet Garland, hold a fair hearing, and vote to approve or disapprove. Article II of the Constitution is not ambiguous. It directs that the president ‘shall nominate, and by and with the advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint . . . judges of the Supreme Court.’ The senators swore their oath to the Constitution. An orderly process, adhering to these words of the Constitution, is not only what the law requires; it is essential to preserving the treasure that is our independent judiciary and rule of law. Let’s make sure this treasure survives this electoral season.”

Boston Globe: Merrick Garland deserves hearings and a vote (Editorial). “The fact that Merrick Garland clearly meets the criteria for the Supreme Court ought to be enough to ensure he gets hearings and a vote, despite Republican promises to bottle up President Obama’s nominee until he leaves office. The fact that Garland is closer to the center – and older – than anyone a President Hillary Clinton is likely to nominate ought to be enough to give Mitch McConnell second thoughts about his unprecedented, outrageous obstruction strategy.”

The Berkshire Eagle: Eight is enough, says Grassley (Editorial). “The latest Republican rationalization for refusing to consider President Obama's Supreme Court nominee is that the Court doesn't need nine justices.  And maybe baseball doesn't need nine players in the field.  Responding to a Des Moines Register editorial describing the GOP's refusal to hold hearings for Judge Merrick Garland as ‘un-American,’ Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, noted in an oped piece in the paper that the US Supreme Court has had fewer than nine justices in the past. Yes, between 1789 and 1866, Congress willy-nilly shifted the court membership from six to five, to six, to seven, to nine, to 10 to seven justices. Congress ended the nonsense in 1869, and since then Section 28 Title 1 of the U.S. Code has said ‘The Supreme Court of the United States shall consist of a Chief Justice and eight associate justices...’  This is why vacancies have been routinely filled since then. That changed with the death of conservative Judge Antonin Scalia, and various rationalizations aside, the reason is because Republicans don't want a Democratic president to choose the next justice. While a 4-to-4 deadlock recently benefited unions, Republicans surely hope that an anticipated tie vote will block President Obama's recent executive action protecting four million undocumented immigrants, including children born in the United States, from deportation.  The simple truth is that if either John McCain or Mitt Romney was president now rather than Barack Obama, Republicans would be eager to approve the nominee — perhaps Judge Garland — of either president, not coming up with flimsy, cynical arguments for eight Court justices. The rule of law is of great importance to conservatives — except when it bumps into partisan politics.” 

South Coast Today: Court vacancy could work against GOP (Editorial). “Our position is that the Senate should follow the process. If the body can’t confirm Judge Garland, it is still an example of the checks and balances working. This disruptive campaign season has roiled the entire campaign process and it’s a shame that the court has been drawn in. From the perspective of the American people, the sooner the seat is filled, the better.”

Taunton Daily Gazette: Let's hear from Justice Roberts on Merrick Garland confirmation (Editorial). “Roberts’ speech was barely noted at the time, but 10 days later Justice Antonin Scalia died, and Roberts’ words gained new relevance. Suddenly, the confirmation process isn’t just ‘not functioning very well.’ It has broken down completely, with Senate Republicans refusing to consider a nominee from a president of the other party.  The excuses Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans are making for their refusal to let the Senate perform its constitutional responsibility range from tenuous to absurd. ‘The people’ should determine the next justice in the November election, say these self-described strict constructionists, ignoring the logic of the Constitution. If the Founders had wanted the people to choose federal judges, they wouldn’t have given them lifetime appointments.  McConnell has tried to blame his own intransigence on Vice-president Joe Biden, characterizing Biden’s 1992 musings about a hypothetical Supreme Court vacancy as the ‘Biden Rule.’ It wasn’t a rule, of course, and no Senate in a century has done what McConnell is doing. Indeed, in the most recent similar situation, a Senate controlled by Democrats confirmed Anthony Kennedy in the last year of Republican Ronald Reagan’s presidency…..  Senate Republicans, and their supporters, continue to use Bork’s treatment to justify their current intransigence. It’s the equivalent of ‘he started it,’ which is exactly the excuse Donald Trump gave this week for the tasteless insults he hurled at the wife of Sen. Ted Cruz, an exchange that should be embarrassing to all involved.  This is the kind of moral reasoning most people outgrew before high school, or should have. If something’s wrong, it’s wrong, whether your opponent does it or you do.”

Sentinel & Enterprise: Make Obama blink (Editorial). “With Judge Garland, Obama selected someone with almost 20 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered to be the second most powerful court in the land. The Harvard-educated Garland's judicial record presents no mysteries. The former federal prosecutor, who oversaw the Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber cases, leans left on gun-related issues but to the center otherwise, including national security. In any other situation, Garland would encounter little opposition. Since we have no Republicans representing this state in Congress, we're at least glad to see that New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte is one of several GOP senators who plan to meet with Garland in the coming weeks. Much like the Democratic majority with an exiting President Ronald Reagan in 1988, the Republicans now face the prospect of approving a primarily moderate Supreme Court nominee or leaving it to the next administration. That Senate, which included McConnell, approved Justice Anthony Kennedy, 97-0. This GOP-controlled Senate apparently would rather fight among itself -- presenting the country with another example of Washington's dysfunction -- thus handing Democrats another immediate political victory and potentially the presidency.”

South Coast Today: Court vacancy could work against GOP (Editorial). “Our position is that the Senate should follow the process. If the body can’t confirm Judge Garland, it is still an example of the checks and balances working. This disruptive campaign season has roiled the entire campaign process and it’s a shame that the court has been drawn in. From the perspective of the American people, the sooner the seat is filled, the better.”

The Republican: Obama's choice for court, Merrick Garland, deserves hearing in Senate (Editorial). “The fact is, Republicans don't want Obama to name Scalia's successor. End of story. It's bald partisanship and nothing more. Oh, and by the way, the old-fashioned may wish to note that Obama's choice for the court is Judge Merrick Garland, the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Garland, 63, is eminently qualified and highly respected. And he's a moderate. Observers have suggested that on today's court, Garland would occupy a position somewhat to the right of the liberals, just as Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote, sits to the left of the core conservatives. At his announcement ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Garland said: ‘Fidelity to the Constitution and the law has been the cornerstone of my professional life. If the Senate sees fit to confirm me ... I promise to continue on that course.’ Unbending Republicans need to understand that they could have done a whole lot worse. The Senate should schedule hearings on Garland's nomination.”

Barry White, former Ambassador to Norway and senior partner at Foley Hoag, LLP: “Uncertainty is always a concern. Given the current debate about filling the vacancy in the Supreme Court before the fall elections, there is no certainty when the Senate will confirm an appointee. Indeed, it could be many months after the election before someone is confirmed. The Senate should do its job, confirm an appointee soon, and let us get back to business.”

Alison Levy, Director of The Stable, LLC: “A business leader has to make decisions and keep moving ahead. Stalling is not an option. Repeated attempts to stall the forward movement of society harms entrepreneurship, initiative, and the economy.”