Do you need a reason to get off your couch and head to the polls this fall to cast your vote for Catherine Cortez Masto for U.S. Senate? Well here’s a good one:
Mitch McConnell told Fox News that he believes the NRA must approve of our next US Supreme Court justice nominee to receive any consideration by a Republican Senate. The NRA disapproves of Judge Garland’s nomination, therefore, the current Republican majority will not allow his nomination to be brought to the Senate floor for a vote on confirmation.
This utter nonsense has to end. We need to take the Senate back! To do that, we need to make sure that Catherine Cortez Masto is elected to replace retiring Senator Harry Reid. We cannot allow Republican Joe Heck to become Nevada’s next Senator and allow him to rubber stamp replacement of potentially FOUR retiring Supreme Court justices with “Scalia clones.”
What Will PROMESA Do?
Although PROMESA was passed before July 1st, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Puerto Rico does not have the money nor time to meet the debt payments due today.
Though PROMESA will not help Puerto Rico make today’s $2 billion debt payment, it will prevent lawsuits from creditors, create a financial oversight board that will control Puerto Rico’s budget and can reorder the priority of creditors, and allow federal minimum wage to be lowered to $4.25 for workers under 24 years old. The oversight board will operate independently of the Puerto Rican government and restructure its finances, similar to the oversight boards created in Detroit and New York City. Additionally, PROMESA prevents a taxpayer bailout of Puerto Rico’s debt.
H.R. 2577 is a conglomeration of a number of bills (Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017) that the Senate needs to take action on failed a super-majority vote (60 votes) for cloture (the ability to be considered and voted for/against on the Senate floor). One version of that bill was passed by the House and a different version of that/those bills passed the Senate. Thus, it’s now gone to conference committee to work out the wrinkles between the two versions.
This conference agreement now includes the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act, 2016, the Zika Vector Control Act, and an unacceptable ‘division’ on funds to be rescinded from programs the Republicans don’t particularly like. That’s what came to the floor for a cloture vote, and it failed miserably — 52-48.
Really, Senator McConnell? It’s too difficult for the general public to understand? I don’t think so.
It’s one thing for Republicans to short-change President Obama’s funding request. It’s another thing to start attaching ‘poison pills’ to the proposed legislation that limit or outright prohibit women’s choices. When you introduce a funding proposal that limits the distribution of contraceptives and that prevents family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood from participating in the effort to help women in Zika-affected areas delay pregnancy, from a disease that not just contracted from a mosquito bite, but from sexual activity with an infected male partner, did you really think that Senate Democrats would just roll over and vote for that?
When you start gutting provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, did you honestly believe that Democrats would just roll over and just vote for that?
SEC. 2. MOSQUITO CONTROL WAIVER. Notwithstanding section 402 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342), during the 180 day period following the date of enactment of this Act the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (or a State, in the case of a permit program approved under subsection (b)) shall not require a permit for a discharge from the application by an entity authorized under State or local law, such as a vector control district, of a pesticide in compliance with all relevant requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.) to control mosquitos or mosquito larvae for the prevention or control of the Zika virus.
When you start stripping funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), did you really expect Democrats to just roll over, see the light and vote your way? Or, when you decide to fund your bill by stripping balances from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, did you really expect Democrats to go “oh yeah, that’s a great idea” and vote in favor of your bill? Or better yet, given that we already know that you stripped a bunch of funding from the State Department for Embassy security that might have made the outcome in Benghazi drastically different, did you really expect the Senate Democrats to let you strip even more funding for the State Department and other Foreign Operations?
Are you nuts? They certainly weren’t and neither am I. It took me hours to sort through all the links on Congress.gov, but here’s what I found:
DIVISION D–RESCISSIONS OF FUNDS
Sec. 101. (a) $543,000,000 of the unobligated amounts made available under section 1323(c)(1) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18043(c)(1)) is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act.
Sec. 1323. Community health insurance option. Requires the Secretary to offer a Community Health Insurance Option as a qualified health plan through Exchanges. Allows States to enact a law to opt out of offering the option. Requires the option to cover only essential health benefits; States may require additional benefits, but must defray their cost. Requires the Secretary to set geographically adjusted premium rates that cover expected costs. Requires the Secretary to negotiate provider reimbursement rates, but they must not be higher than average rates paid by private qualified health plans. Subjects the option to State and Federal solvency standards and to State consumer protection laws. Establishes a Start-Up Fund to provide loans for initial operations, to be repaid with interest within 10 years. Authorizes the Secretary to contract with nonprofits for the administration of the option.
(b) $100,000,000 of the unobligated balances available in the Nonrecurring expenses fund established in section 223 of division G of Public Law 110-161 (42 U.S.C. 3514a) from any fiscal year is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act.
DIVISION G–DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 Title I–Department of Labor Title II–Department of Health and Human Services Title III–Department of Education Title IV–Related Agencies Title V–General Provisions Title VI–National Commission on Children and Disasters
(c) $107,000,000 of the unobligated balances of appropriations made available under the heading Bilateral Economic Assistance, Funds Appropriated to the President, Economic Support Fund in title IX of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015 (division J of Public Law 113-235) is rescinded immediately upon enactment of this Act: Provided, That such amounts are designated by the Congress as an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
Personally, I side with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who declared, “It is unbelievable that somebody would have the audacity to come to the floor and say it’s Democrats’ fault. A significant amount of American women, especially young women, go to Planned Parenthood, and the Republicans want to say, ‘you can’t do that.’” Why indeed would Democrats not just prohibit Planned Parenthood from providing any services, but gut the EPA’s ability to assure clean water and harm HHS’s ability to manage health insurance options for not just Puerto Ricans, but millions of American families across our nation? Apparently Sen. McConnell completely missed the irony of claiming to improve women’s health by prohibiting and defunding health opportunities for women altogether.
Have you ever wondered why the GOP Senate continually sides with the NRA on all gun-related proposed legislation, and against well over a majority of their constituents, Democrat, Republican and Independents? They’ve been bought, including Nevada’s own Sen. Dean Heller (to the tune of a $122,000 scholarship from the NRA)!
House Democrats and Obama administration, meanwhile, criticize bill’s assault on Clean Water Act — by Andrea Germanos, staff writer
The Republican-controlled U.S. House on Tuesday passed legislation—newly rebranded with the word “Zika” in it—that Democrats say is in fact not at all about the addressing the threat of the virus but making it easier for pesticides to contaminate the nation’s waterways.
Previously called the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act,” the “Zika Vector Control Act”passed the House 258-156.
According to House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md), H.R. 897 “is nothing but a Trojan horse, with practically nothing to do with Zika.”
It was sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), who, as Cleveland.comreported last week, “For years […] has tried to get Congress to change permitting requirements for pesticides sprayed near water.”
The Obama administration issued a statement earlier this week saying (pdf) that it “strongly opposes” the legislation, as it “would weaken environmental protections under the Clean Water Act.” Indeed, the Act’s summary states that it
establishes exemptions for the following discharges containing a pesticide or pesticide residue: (1) a discharge resulting from the application of a pesticide in violation of FIFRA that is relevant to protecting water quality, if the discharge would not have occurred but for the violation or the amount of pesticide or pesticide residue contained in the discharge is greater than would have occurred without the violation; (2) stormwater discharges regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES); and (3) discharges regulated under NPDES of manufacturing or industrial effluent or treatment works effluent and discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel, including a discharge resulting from operations concerning ballast water held in ships to increase stability or vessel biofouling prevention.
Gibbs, The Hillnotes, “said it would help to eliminate a ‘duplicative and unnecessary permitting regulation’ that has made it more difficult for some local governments to spread for mosquitoes.”
Journalist and documentary filmmaker Leighton Woodhouse, for his part, referred to the bill as “Straight up #disastercapitalism.”
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.)., meanwhile, said it “is a sham.”
“It is nothing but trying to weaken the environmental regulations. It exempts, a broad exemption, of toxic pesticides from the Clean Water Act,” she said to PBS NewshourMonday, adding that the bill stands to “pollute our rivers and contaminate our water.”
Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.) spoke out against the measure on the House floor Tuesday, calling it “misguided” and “harmful.”
“I am very concerned about the effect of these pesticides on the health of our rivers, on our streams, and especially the drinking water supplies of all our citizens, including pregnant women,” Napolitano added.
Slamming the repeated iterations of the bill that threatens “to undo protections that safeguard our environment and public health,” Hoyer said that to “bring the same bill back to the Floor last week and again today, renamed with ‘Zika’ in the title, is one of the most egregious displays of dishonesty I’ve seen while serving in the House.”
“It is an act that seeks to provide political cover for Republicans who refused to act on President Obama’s urgent request for funding to address the Zika outbreak in a serious way. House Republicans might as well bring this bill to the Floor and rename it the ‘Making Pesticides Great Again’ Act, because in truth it would remove virtually all federal oversight concerning the use of chemical pesticides to ensure they do not end up in our water supply,” he charged.
The bill also met outrage from Natural Resources Defense Council’s government arm, which tweeted:
The Associated Pressnotes that the Obama administration’s statement “stopped short of threatening a veto” of the bill.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License by Common Dreams.
On Thursday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney [D-NY] offered an amendment to the military construction and veterans affairs spending bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT individuals in hiring and employment activities. It was very similar to an amendment that was offered last year by Rep. Scott Peters [D-CA] which upheld President Obama’s 2014 executive order banning federal contractors from making hiring decisions that discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 60 Republicans voted forRep Peters’ bill which was adopted 241-184 [HR2577, Roll Call 326, 6-9-15]. However, Rep. Maloney’s amendment by a single vote, 212-213 [HR 4974, Roll Call 226, 5-19-16], after seven Republicans switched their votes at the last minute.
Rep. Mark Amodei [NV2] and Rep. Cresant Hardy [NV4] voted against passage of BOTH amendments (last year’s and this year’s). It should, therefore, be noted that BOTH are in favor of allowing discrimination to take place.
Although the identities of the seven vote-switchers were not publicly recorded on the House floor, here’s the names of those Reps who switched there votes and deserve your shaming:
Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA]
Rep. Jeff Denham [R-CA]
Rep. David Valadao [R-CA]
Rep. Mimi Walters [R-CA]
Rep. Greg Walden [R-OR]
Rep. David Young [R-IA]
Rep. Bruce Poliquin [R-ME]
“House Republicans are so committed to discriminating against LGBT Americans, that they broke regular order to force their members to reverse their votes and support Republicans’ bigotry,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] said in a statement.
On the other side, Speaker Ryan had this to say: “This is federalism. The states should do this. The federal government shouldn’t stick its nose in this business.” UH … Hello? This had to do with FEDERAL contracts for which States hold NO responsibility for issuance, nor enforcement.
Here are the names of 30 Republicans who voted for the Peters amendment but against the Maloney amendment:
The House GOP-dominated Budget Committee held 9 hour markup, with several lawmakers going hoarse and one losing her voice. Democrats offered up 29 amendments, involving immigration reform, prescription drug prices, and equal pay. Every amendment failed, including one proposed by Rep. Debbie Dingell [D, MI-12] that would have designated $457.5M in emergency funding for Flint and required Michigan to match the federal funds. The budget advanced 20-16, with Democrats voting against and all but one Republican voting for the measure. Here’s their summary:
Balances the Budget
Balances the budget within 10 years – without raising taxes – and puts the country on a path to paying off the national debt
This budget achieves $7 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years through a combination of $6.5 trillion in savings coupled with economic growth
Savings are higher than any previous House Budget Committee proposal and discretionary spending is below 2008 levels
Requires consideration of legislation this year to achieve at least $30 billion in automatic spending reductions and reforms over the near term
Advances budget process reforms to promote fiscal discipline, and calls for a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment this year
Strengthens Our National Defense
Provides for greater security at home and strength abroad at funding levels above the president’s budget and with increased resources for training, equipment and compensation
Supports the bipartisan prohibition on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and transfer of detainees to American soil
Identifies vulnerabilities in our nation’s refugee program and calls for oversight and rigorous screening
Calls for an improved and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs that can better deliver services and benefits to our veterans
Empowers Our Citizens & Communities
Promotes job creation and a healthier economy by calling for a fairer, simpler tax code, regulatory reform, expanded energy production, and a more efficient, effective and accountable government
Repeals all of Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)
Endorses patient-centered health care solutions that improve access to quality, affordable care (but does absolutely nothing to assure access to insurance nor does it rein in health care costs)
Saves, strengthens, and secures Medicare for current and future retirees (read the Q&A carefully as to HOW they intend to do that)
Empowers states and local communities with the flexibility to innovate and make improvements to Medicaid, nutrition assistance, education and other programs
Strengthens the Disability Insurance program by putting an end to the “double-dipping” loophole that currently allows individuals to receive both unemployment insurance and disability insurance simultaneously
Puts an end to corporate welfare and dismantles the Department of Commerce [that would mean they intend to help balance the budget by issuing pink slips to 43,000+ employees and ending measuring services like: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Census Bureau (Census), Economic Development Admin (EDA), Economics and Statistics Admin (ESA), International Trade Admin (ITA), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), Natl Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Natl Technical Information Service (NTIS), Operation Natl Telecom & Information Admin (NTIA), and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Frequently Asked Questions(Make sure you read the Q&A regarding “full” repeal of the Affordable Care Act, AND the dance they do to explain how their “voucher” approach to Medicare isn’t really a “voucher” program for their apparent privatization of our trust fund contributions)
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after the New Democrat Coalition released a one-year report on their American Prosperity Agenda:
“A year after its unveiling, the vision of the American Prosperity Agenda is as vital as ever. Growing the economy, expanding opportunity, and making government work for hard-working American families are essential to America’s success in the 21st century.
“The innovative and entrepreneurial voice of the New Dems is a powerful part of the Democratic Caucus’ shared work to strengthen the middle class and preserve the American Dream in our evolving, modern economy.
“We must act now to lay the foundation for economic growth that provides more jobs and bigger paychecks for all Americans. Together, Democrats will continue to fight to expand the prosperity and opportunities of every American family.”
According to the Washington Post, the White House is considering six candidates for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia: federal appeals court judges Sri Srinivasan, Jane Kelly, Merrick Garland, Paul Watford, and Patricia Millett, along with district judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Judge Sri Srinivasan
Judge Sri Srinivasan offers the conventional mix of youth, experience, and credentials that presidents often look for when selecting a Supreme Court nominee. A judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, a court that is widely considered the second most powerful in the nation, Srinivasan was confirmed to this job by a 97-0 vote. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, served as the principal deputy to Solicitor General Don Verrilli, and argued more than two dozens cases in the Supreme Court before his own elevation to the bench.
The case challenging the Clean Power Plan remains ongoing, however, and it is still pending before the panel that includes Judge Srinivasan. Thus, nominating Srinivasan presents some risk for the president because it could lead to a different judge being swapped in to hear this case. Should Srinivasan be confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would also need to recuse from the case because he already ruled on the request to temporarily halt the Plan as a circuit judge. Some of the White House’s liberal allies have also expressed concerns about Srinivasan’s record prior to becoming a judge; his past clients include ExxonMobil and former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling.
Judge Jane Kelly
By the ultra-elite standards of the very top echelons of the legal profession, Judge Jane Kelly does not have the same eye-popping credentials as Srinivasan. After graduating with honors from Harvard Law, Kelly clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge, but never for a Supreme Court justice. While Srinivasan made a name for himself in DC as one of the nation’s top Supreme Court litigators, Kelly toiled in relative obscurity in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Dismissing Kelly’s credentials because they do not match up with Srinivasan’s, however, is a bit like labeling Wonder Woman a weakling because she does not pack quite as much of a punch as Superman. Elite law firms currently offer a signing bonus of up to $75,000 for recent law graduates fresh out of a federal circuit clerkship, and that’s in addition to a starting salary in the mid-to-high $100,000s. So Kelly could have enjoyed a very lavish life in a prestigious legal practice.
A Kelly nomination could also embarrass Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has thus far refused to consider anyone that President Obama names to fill Scalia’s seat. Grassley praised her nomination to the Eighth Circuit, quoting a friend of his on the federal bench who praised her “exceptionally keen intellect” and concluded that “she will be a welcomed addition to the Court if confirmed.” If Kelly is the nominee, expect videos like this one, where Grassley urges his colleagues to confirm her, to become a stable of cable news coverage of the nomination:
Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the DC Circuit is the sort of nominee that Obama and Senate Republicans might agree to elevate to the Supreme Court as a compromise, if compromise is actually possible with the current Senate majority. Garland, who President Clinton appointed to the DC Circuit in 1997, is far and away the oldest candidate among the four the White House is reportedly vetting — he’s 63. In nearly two decades on the bench, Garland has also built a fairly centrist record.
Like the much younger Srinivasan, Garland’s resume is laden with the kind of credentials that make mere mortal attorneys droll with envy — including a clerkship for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan and a senior Justice Department job prior to Garland’s elevation to the bench. On most issues, moreover, is is likely that Garland would side with the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc in divided cases.
Nevertheless, there are a few areas where his instincts appear more conservative. In 2003, Garland joined an opinion holding that the federal judiciary lacks the authority, “to assert habeas corpus jurisdiction at the behest of an alien held at a military base leased from another nation, a military base outside the sovereignty of the United States,” effectively prohibiting Guantanamo Bay detainees from seeking relief in civilian courts. The Supreme Court reversed this decision a little over a year later in Rasul v. Bush. (Though, it is worth noting that legal expertsdisagree about whether the result Garland supported was compelled by then-existing precedents.)
Garland also appears to have relatively conservative instincts in criminal justice cases. According to a 2010 examination of Garland’s decision by SCOTUSBlog’s Thomas Goldstein, “Judge Garland rarely votes in favor of criminal defendants’ appeals of their convictions.” Goldstein “identified only eight such published rulings,” as well as an additional seven where “he voted to reverse the defendant’s sentence in whole or in part, or to permit the defendant to raise a argument relating to sentencing on remand,” during the 13 years Garland had then spent as a federal judge.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is the only federal trial judge among the six mentioned by the Washington Post. At 45, she is also the youngest, Jackson’s resume includes several years of private practice, service on the United States Sentencing Commission, and work as a public defender. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.Jackson’s current status as a trial judge could prove to be both a blessing and a curse if she is Obama’s nominee. On the one hand, appellate judgeships are considered to be more prestigious than trial judgeships. The Supreme Court is also an appellate court, so a judge with experience at the appellate level is likely to be more used to the kind of work that goes into being a justice. That said, nearly all of the cases heard by the Supreme Court began in trial courts, and they can often turn upon procedural motions, fact-finding and other matters that occurred at the trial level. Currently, the only sitting justice with experience as a trial judge is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, so Jackson would bring an underrepresented perspective to the nation’s highest Court.
According to the Washington Post, the White House is focusing on potential nominees “with scant discernible ideology and limited judicial records as part of a strategy to surmount fierce Republican opposition.” Jackson, however, does have some opinions that are likely to fuel Republican opposition if she is nominated. In Rothe Development v. Department of Defense, Jackson rejected a challenge to a program that provides “technological, financial, and practical assistance, as well as support through preferential awards of government contracts” to companies that are designated as “small disadvantaged businesses.” One of the criteria used to determine if a business qualifies for this designation is whether a majority owner of the business belongs to a racial minority group. Though Jackson’s opinion upholding this limited consideration of race in government contracting closely tracks a 2012 decision by another judge of her court, which rejected a “nearly identical” challenge, it is likely that Rothe Development will play a starring role in conservative attack ads should Jackson be the nominee.
Additionally, Jackson denied a request by the website Gawker that tried to “force former Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines to explain why he had work-related emails in a private account.” Although her decision merely concluded that the request was “premature,” and not that it could not succeed at a later date, it is unlikely that conservative attack groups will dwell on that nuance if Jackson is the nominee.
Judge Paul Watford
ThinkProgress previously described Judge Paul Watford as a “conventional superqualified nominee.” A former law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Watford joined the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2012, after spending a few years as a federal prosecutor and then becoming a partner in a large law firm.Watford, however, had a somewhat more rocky confirmation process than Srinivasan and Kelly — a fact that may stem from Watford being one of only a handful of judicial nominees President Obama named in his first term who fit the conventional profile for a future Supreme Court justice. Grassley, in particular, objected to a few amicus briefs Watford wrote while still in private practice, including a brief opposing Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070, and another one filed on behalf of groups opposed to Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol. Judge Watford was eventually confirmed by a 61-34 vote.
Like Srinivasan, Judge Patricia Millett was among the nation’s top Supreme Court advocates prior to her appointment to the DC Circuit — arguing 32 cases during her time as an attorney in the Solicitor General’s office and later in private practice. Prior to becoming a judge, she alsoserved on the board of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization in Washington, DC. During her confirmation to the DC Circuit, one of the most active lobbying groups working on her behalf was a network of lawyers who are also military spouses. Millett’s husband served in the Navy, and they met at a church event while he was stationed at the Pentagon and were later married in the same church.Under normal circumstances, a Millett nomination would be a considerable olive branch extended toward Senate Republicans. Among other things, Millett once defended the conservative Roberts Court’s record in business cases during testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that the justices “show[ed] a fair amount of balance in the business area” during a previous term. In just over two years on the DC Circuit, she’s authored just over two dozen majority opinions, none of which are particularly ideological
(The president’s opponents may complain about an opinion rejecting a challenge to various aspects of the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, but that lawsuit received little backing from interest groups that have otherwise been eager to support suits against Obamacare that have even a small chance of prevailing. Judge Millett’s opinion in that case was also joined by a conservative George H.W. Bush appointee.)
Millett, however, was also the very first judge confirmed after Senate Democrats invoked the so-called “nuclear option” to allow lower court nominations to be confirmed by a simple majority vote. This maneuver, which effectively shut down Senate Republican efforts to maintain ideological control over the nation’s second most powerful court, remains a sore spot among Senate Republicans. If Millett is the nominee, it is likely that many senators will take their frustrations with this rules change out on the judge.
A Responsibility I Take Seriously
— by President Barack Obama
The Constitution vests in the President the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court. It’s a duty that I take seriously, and one that I will fulfill in the weeks ahead.
It’s also one of the most important decisions that a President will make. Rulings handed down by the Supreme Court directly affect our economy, our security, our rights, and our daily lives.
Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly. It’s a decision to which I devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation, and serious consultation with legal experts, members of both political parties, and people across the political spectrum. And with thanks to SCOTUSblog for allowing me to guest post today, I thought I’d share some spoiler-free insights into what I think about before appointing the person who will be our next Supreme Court Justice.
First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified. He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity. I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.
Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law. I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand.
But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment. That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times. That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.
A sterling record. A deep respect for the judiciary’s role. An understanding of the way the world really works. That’s what I’m considering as I fulfill my constitutional duty to appoint a judge to our highest court. And as Senators prepare to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to consider the person I appoint, I hope they’ll move quickly to debate and then confirm this nominee so that the Court can continue to serve the American people at full strength.