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

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

Across the state, people in Oregon continue to speak out against Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their job and give Judge Garland a hearing and vote. From lawyers to local newspapers, Oregon voices are supporting Senators Wyden and Merkley as they call to keep partisanship out of the Supreme Court—and to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.

Oregon Women Lawyers: “We write as bar leaders who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution. We call on the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty to duly and promptly consider President Obama’s nomination, so that our highest Court may continue to perform its critical function at the apex of our third branch of government. Article II of the Constitution requires the President, ‘with the advice and consent of the Senate,’ to appoint judges to the Supreme Court. Through this section, the framers placed in the hands of the executive and legislative branches of our government a duty to ensure that the third pillar of our democracy, our courts, would be protected from entanglement in partisan politics. We trust that you will fulfill this duty, and, in the words of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, ‘pick the best person you can under these circumstances, as the appointing authority must do.’”

The World: The Supreme Court And A Petulant Senate (Editorial). “In both cases, those of the liberal persuasion maintained an upper hand over those who hold more conservative viewpoints. And it’s a good bet it will continue that way until the vacancy on the court left by the Feb. 13 death of Justice Antonin Scalia is filled.  Of course, it’s unlikely that a judicial candidate could have been vetted and confirmed by the Senate in time to avoid this week’s judicial standoffs. But more to the point, it's not clear that the Senate will do its job and allow the judicial replacement process to proceed until after the November presidential election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could barely contain himself declaring the process dead on arrival barely an hour after the justice took his final breath.  Since then, various GOP senators have expressed more open, conciliatory positions, be it out of sheer respect for the Constitutional process or because of threats back home from constituents. President Obama’s nominee, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Merrick Garland, is a worthy candidate. He deserves a fair Senatorial vetting and the American people deserve their Constitution be respected.  Our elected representatives need hear from us that we shouldn’t be forced to endure any more split judicial decisions while waiting for a November election. Otherwise, we’re allowing political gamesmanship to govern the country, not its Constitution.”

Corvallis Gazette-Times: A year of deadlock looms for court (Editorial). “President Barack Obama has appointed a moderate, Merrick Garland, to replace Scalia. Republican leaders in the Senate say the appointment is dead in the water, although Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois did break with party ranks to give the appointee a courtesy meeting this week.  In the meantime, the court’s string of deadlocked decisions could just be getting underway: In a very unusual development Tuesday, the court asked for additional briefs in Zubik v. Burwell, the controversial Affordable Care Act contraceptive-coverage case that the justices heard just last week.  Of course, no one other than the eight justices and their clerks know what prompted the request; nothing like it has been seen from the court for a half-century or so. But experienced court watchers believe the court is desperately trying to find a way to avoid another 4-4 decision — which would be particularly troublesome in this case, since different federal courts have reached different conclusions on the key questions.”

Albany Democrat Herald: A year of deadlock looms for court (Editorial). “For our money, the 63-year-old Garland seems to be a well-qualified centrist who likely would serve with distinction for a decade or so on the nation’s highest court. Regardless of what else you may have heard, Garland apparently believes that the role of a judge is to interpret the law, not to make it. But let’s be honest: The fight over Garland in the U.S. Senate isn’t about Garland’s qualifications. (In fact, in 2010, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said Garland could be confirmed to the Supreme Court “virtually unanimously.”) No, this fight isn’t about Garland: It’s about who has nominated him, President Barack Obama. Republican leaders in the Senate have made it clear they have no intent of giving Garland any sort of hearing, let alone a confirmation vote. Their argument is that the next president should have the right to name the next justice, especially since the next nomination could tilt the court away from its conservative leanings.”

Register-Guard: Senate ducks its duty (Editorial). “Even if such a thing as the Biden rules existed, they would be trumped by the U.S. Constitution, which in Article II, Section 2, states that the president ‘shall have the power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,’ to appoint Supreme Court justices. Obama would be derelict in his duty if he ignored that responsibility of his office, and allowed a vacancy on the court to go unfilled for nearly a year. The situation arising as a result of Scalia’s death is unusual, but not without precedent. In modern times it’s rare for members of the Supreme Court to die in office — the last was William Rehnquist, who died in 2005, the first year of President George W. Bush’s second term. It’s much more common for justices to retire, timing their departures to allow an ideologically compatible president to make an appointment. And that has happened during election years, as when Justice Lewis Powell retired in 1987. Democrats controlled the Senate during that period, and President Reagan’s nominee, Justice Anthony Kennedy, won confirmation.”

Daily Astorian: It’s a judicial choice, not a litmus test (Editorial). “As conservative as he was, Scalia was confirmed 98-0 by the Senate. No Democrats opposed him, despite his politics, because our Constitution and traditions give the sitting president authority to appoint who he or she wishes, so long as they are qualified. Current senate leadership seriously errs in turning this appointment into a political litmus test on the president, who won in 2012 with a 5 million vote majority. Obama should appoint a qualified, rational jurist. The Senate should give this person a fair hearing.”

Mail Tribune: Senate leader shows contempt for Constitution (Editorial). “The American people, McConnell will recall, exercised their voice in 2012 when they re-elected President Barack Obama by a comfortable margin. And, according to the "original meaning" of the Constitution, the president is responsible for nominating people to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court. According to that same Constitution, the president is to do so with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. The Senate must confirm the nomination, and if it votes to reject a nominee, the president must nominate someone else. Nowhere in the Constitution is there any provision for delaying or suspending this process because a president is in his final year in office or because there is an election underway.