High Stakes for Courts on Election Day; AFJ in the News

U.S. COURTS AND THE ELECTION: Just how central is the presidential election for the future of all U.S. courts? “Fate of federal courts rests with the next president,” declares the headline for an essay by John G. Malcolm and Tiffany H. Bates of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Taking into consideration the current vacancy on the Supreme Court and more vacancies that are likely, as well as the hugely important role of the lower federal courts, the authors conclude, “The next president will have the opportunity to leave a massive imprint on the federal courts for a generation or more. The stakes are high indeed.”

With the presidential campaigns entering the home stretch,  Senate Republicans continued what Media Matters for America calls “Unprecedented Obstruction” on President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland and numerous lower-court nominations; Media Matters cites Alliance for Justice data to drive home its point. Both Garland and Vice President Joe Biden visited Capitol Hill on Thursday as part of a new push for Garland’s confirmation “in the face of a united Republican blockade,” according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile the Daily 202 blog of the Post asks, “Did Obama squander an opportunity by nominating Merrick Garland?” The blog reports, “Some Democrats privately fear that Obama blew an opportunity to help re-activate the coalition that elected him twice by not picking a more progressive nominee – especially a minority candidate – to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Had Obama nominated someone who really ginned up the Democratic base, perhaps [Hillary] Clinton and the party would have more whole-heartedly embraced him or her.”

QURESHI NOMINATION: The Atlantic takes a look at the long history of nominations that have diversified the federal judiciary with individuals of varying religious affiliations. Obama’s nomination of Abid Qureshi of Washington to become the first Muslim American federal judge caps this president’s “legacy of diversifying the judiciary, but the Senate seems unlikely to act on it,” The Atlantic says.

ROE V. WADE AND NEW YORK LAW: “As legislation that would codify the Roe v. Wade decision into state law repeatedly has stalled, [New York] state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday issued a legal opinion that current state law cannot diminish health protections afforded under that landmark Supreme Court decision or others that have come since,” according to The Albany Times Union.