Candidates Analyzed on Court Picks; ‘Justice Delayed’ by Gamesmanship

SUPREME COURT AND ELECTION YEAR: Now that selection of Supreme Court justices has emerged as an issue for the presidential candidates to debate face to face (see Gavel Grab), the approaches that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton articulated on Sunday night are getting more commentary and analysis.

Huffington Post reported, “Clinton provided a substantive view squarely aimed at her base, hinting that her choices may resemble a justice who’s already serving on the court: Sonia Sotomayor.” Clinton’s “expanded definition and nod to trial experience fit Sotomayor to a tee,” Cristian Farias wrote.

An alternative view came from The Washington Times, where S.A. Miller asserted, “Hillary Clinton ended up helping Donald Trump repair some of the damage from his lewd comments about women this weekend when she ran hard left on the Supreme Court — reinforcing the one overriding reason conservative Republicans have for voting for their flawed presidential nominee.”

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: A USA Today editorial, meanwhile, lamented “Justice Delayed” as a result of Senate gamesmanship on judicial nominations, not only involving Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court but also dozens of lower court seats. The editorial linked to data from our sister organization, Alliance for Justice, about judicial vacancies:

“The Republican-led Senate sure knows how to make history, but not in a good way. By leaving town Sept. 28 without acting on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, it has left a nominee hanging for an unprecedented six-and-a-half-months without so much as a hearing — and left the Supreme Court limping along one justice short and vulnerable to more tie votes.

“The foot-dragging extends well beyond the Supreme Court to the rest of the federal judiciary, where more than 50 other Obama nominees await hearings or confirmation votes.”

KANSAS COURT ELECTION AND ‘REVENGE POLITICS’: In a column for The Kansas City Star, Steve Rose condemned “revenge politics” behind a move by conservatives to oust four state Supreme Court justices in retention (up-or-down) elections next month. It’s among state judicial elections gaining the most attention for efforts to knock off impartial judges through the use of partisan politics this year; Rose said critics are promoting criminal justice issues but “the real motive … is to neuter the Supreme Court,” which has issued “courageous” rulings on inadequate school funding and angered legislators.

“Injecting politics into an independent judiciary could be dangerous. That certainly would have a chilling effect on future Supreme Court justices,” Rose wrote.