Commentary, News

Poll: Voters unhappy with Senate obstruction of Supreme Court nominee

Supreme courtIn case you missed it last week in all the electoral hubbub, Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling has some powerful new numbers on the what even Lindsay Graham has described as the Senate’s unprecedented obstruction of a replacement nominee for Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s Jensen:

New Public Policy Polling surveys in Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and North Carolina find that voter anger over their Republican Senators’ unwillingness to consider a replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court could help make those seats competitive for Democrats this fall.

Key findings from the surveys include:

-All these Senators start out with pretty mediocre approval ratings. John McCain’s approval is a 26/63 spread, Roy Blunt’s is 25/48, and Richard Burr’s is 28/44. Only Chuck Grassley within this group is on positive ground and his 47/44 spread is down considerably from what we usually find for him as he loses crossover support from Democrats because of his intransigence on the Supreme Court issue. Further making life difficult for this quartet is the incredibly damaged brand of Senate Republicans. Mitch McConnell is vastly unpopular in these four states, coming in at 11/63 in Iowa, 16/68 in Arizona, 16/69 in Missouri, and 19/65 in North Carolina. McConnell will be an albatross for all Senate Republicans seeking reelection this fall.

-Strong majorities of voters in each of these states want the Supreme Court vacancy to be filled this year. It’s a 56/40 spread in favor of filling the seat in Iowa, 56/41 in Arizona and Missouri, and 55/41 in North Carolina. What’s particularly important in the numbers is the strong support for filling the seat among independents- it’s 60/38 in Missouri, 59/37 in Arizona, 58/38 in Iowa, and 55/38 in North Carolina. Independent voters will be key to determining whether these incumbents sink or swim this fall, and they want the vacancy filled.

-What voters especially have a problem with is Senate Republicans saying they’re going to reject President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court no matter who it is.

Read more

Commentary

Even Chris Christie thinks the U.S. Senate is wrong not to consider Supreme Court nominee

Chris ChristieHow outrageous is the mindless blockade launched by GOP U.S. Senators of any nominee President Obama might submit to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court? This outrageous: Even New Jersey Governor and Donald Trump supporter Chris Christie thinks it’s wrong. This is from a post on Talking Points Memo:

‘People can always vote up or down however they choose, but hearings should be held,’ said Christie, who dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that Federal Appeals Court Judge Jane Kelly is under consideration by the White House for the position. If she is in fact the nominee, it will be fascinating to hear GOP Senators explain their reasons for not considering her.

In 2013, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley supported her nomination to the Court of Appeals by describing her as a “forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” and a person of “exceptionally keen intellect.” She was then confirmed by the Senate 96-0.

Commentary

Op-ed: Judicial obstruction not limited to Scalia’s seat

There’s a great op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer this morning about the absurd ongoing blockade of almost all judicial nominations submitted by President Obama — a blockade that has resulted in a federal court seat in North Carolina being vacant for 10 years. Here are Mark Dorosin and Brent Ducharme laying out the problem:

“In the wake of the recent death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, politicians and the public have been debating the timing of a Supreme Court nomination and the potential effects of leaving the seat empty for over a year.

Sadly, there has been no similar public discussion of the 76 vacant judgeships on the 94 federal district courts and 13 federal appellate courts that hear the thousands of cases each year that never reach the Supreme Court. Far too often, the process of filling judicial vacancies is also marked by the same political motivations currently on display.

In recent years, the federal judiciary has faced growing caseloads that significantly outpace the relatively static number of federal judges. Between March 2013 and March 2014, more than 300,000 civil cases were filed in federal district courts. Nearly 87,000 criminal cases were also filed. Because of the heavy workload, delays in filling seats on the federal bench have severe effects on the administration of justice in the United States.

In the Eastern District of North Carolina, capacity challenges are compounded by the longest standing vacancy in the federal judiciary. In 2005, Judge Malcolm Howard, one of four then-active federal judges sitting in the Eastern District, vacated his seat and assumed part-time senior status with the court. More than a decade later, Howard’s former seat remains unfilled, and there are no nominees. This is the longest current vacancy in the federal judiciary by more than four years and the second-longest vacancy on the federal courts in at least the last three and a half decades.”

And here’s the excellent conclusion: Read more

Commentary, News

Message to Burr and Tillis: Another NC poll shows strong support for moving ahead with Scalia replacement

As Senators Burr and Tillis continue their pledge to stonewall, add the High Point University Poll to the growing list showing strong support among North Carolinians for ending the U.S. Senate blockade of Obama Supreme Court nominations. This is from an HPU release from yesterday:

“A new High Point University Poll finds that majorities of North Carolina residents believe that President Obama should nominate and the U.S. Senate should consider replacements for Justice Antonin Scalia, the recently deceased Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, before the end of Obama’s presidency. The poll also reported North Carolinians’ job approval ratings for public officials and legislatures.

When asked whether President Obama should nominate a replacement, 60 percent of those polled said yes. The poll also asked whether the U.S. Senate should consider President Obama’s nominee – keeping in mind that the U.S. Senate’s Majority Leader had said that the next president rather than President Obama should nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia. Sixty-eight percent of North Carolinians said that the U.S. Senate should consider any nominee.

North Carolinians appeared to be following relatively closely the story of Justice Scalia’s death and President Obama’s decision to nominate a replacement for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Fifty-four percent of the survey respondents said they had heard a lot about the story.

‘Over half of the poll participants indicated closely following the passing of Justice Scalia,’ says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor. ‘The poll confirms that North Carolinians are supportive of President Obama nominating a replacement. In addition, almost 70 percent are in agreement that the U.S. Senate should consider any nominee of the current administration.’”

Click here for more details.

The High Point poll comes just a week after pollsters at Elon University found similar results.

News

Clarence Thomas speaks

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For the past decade U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked nary a question during oral argument in cases before the high court — a point of considerable discussion and criticism over those years.

But today, in a somewhat low-profile case about gun ownership by individuals convicted of domestic violence, Thomas broke his self-imposed vow of silence, interrupting a prosecutor winding up her argument in favor of a gun ban.

“Ms. Eisenstein, one question,” Thomas said, followed by audible gasps in the courtroom.

“Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?”

Thomas then followed up with several more questions, stunning those inside and out of the courtroom and firing up plenty of reaction on social media.

His questions, coming just weeks after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia (beside whom he sat on the bench for seven years), prompted some to connect the two events.

“It was hard to escape the conclusion that the absence of the voluble Justice Scalia, who had dominated Supreme Court arguments for nearly 30 years on the bench, somehow liberated Justice Thomas and allowed him to resume participating in the court’s most public activity,” Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote.

Below, a few highlights of reactions on social media.

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