You mean getting to a floor vote so that sensitive vacancies can be filled isn’t these senators’ top priority after all? Sen. Chuck Schumer and allies are holding up two presidential nominations to the Securities and Exchange Commission, those of Democrat Lisa Fairfax and Republican Hester Peirce, demanding that the nominees commit to supporting a scheme to force shareholder-held companies to disclose their political involvements, the better for adversaries to pressure them or retaliate. It flies in the face of the idea that the appropriate frame of mind for commissioners approaching the rulemaking process is to keep an open mind rather than promise to vote one way or the other [Stephen Bainbridge, Broc Romanek/Corporate Counsel, Marc Hodak] “The SEC is now down to just three members, two less than its full complement, after two left the agency late last year. If the SEC remains with only three members for a prolonged period, it could be difficult for Chairman Mary Jo White to advance her agenda in what is likely her final year at the markets regulator.” [Andrew Ackerman, WSJ] More: WSJ letters via Prof. Bainbridge; Washington Post editorial.
- Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler awards Three Pinocchios to prominent Senate Democrats for claiming their body is constitutionally obligated to act on a Supreme Court nomination [earlier]
- George Will argues that even though the Constitution does not constrain them to do so, there are strong prudential reasons for Senate Republicans to give nominee Merrick Garland a vote [Washington Post/syndicated] A different view from colleague Ilya Shapiro [Forbes]
- Garland is known in his rulings for deference to the executive branch; maybe this president felt in special need of that? [Shapiro on Obama’s “abysmal record” heretofore at the Court; Tom Goldstein 2010 roundup on Garland’s jurisprudence, and John Heilemann, also 2010, on how nominee’s style of carefully measured liberal reasoning might peel away votes from the conservative side]
- Litigants’ interest in controlling their own rights form intellectual underpinnings of Antonin Scalia’s class action jurisprudence [Mark Moller, first and second posts] “With Scalia gone, defendants lose hope for class action reprieve” [Alison Frankel/Reuters]
- OK for private law firms hired to collect state debt to use attorney generals’ letterhead? Sheriff v. Gillie is FDCPA case on appeal from Sixth Circuit [earlier]
- Murr v. Wisconsin raises question of whether separate incursions on more than one parcel of commonly owned land must be considered together in determining whether there’s been a regulatory taking [Gideon Kanner]
In addition to the links yesterday on the nomination of D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, here’s Ilya Somin: “No one has better explained the justification for senatorial consideration of judicial philosophy than then-Senator Obama in his 2006 speech justifying his opposition to the nomination of Justice Alito (which Obama had previously tried to prevent from even coming to a vote, by using the filibuster)” While there is good reason for Republicans to table the Garland nomination for now, Somin writes, they should keep in mind that Garland is “preferable to what we might well get in the likely event of a Hillary Clinton victory” — and also that “it would be irresponsible to leave the door open for a Trump nomination.”
And more from the other Ilya, Ilya Shapiro, on the nominee in a CNN roundtable:
From my own perspective, Garland has shown an alarming amount of deference to the government in his years on the important D.C. Circuit, which handles appeals from administrative agencies. I also fear that he won’t represent the check on ever-expanding federal power and executive actions to the same extent as Scalia. And if you’re a civil libertarian, his solicitude for law enforcement makes him much less appealing than other judges who had been under consideration.
More (edited): Sorry, email-blast progressives: the Senate has no constitutional duty to vote on a Supreme Court nominee [Michael Ramsey constitutional arguments]. On the other hand, Vikram Amar criticizes the Senate not on the untenable constitutional argument but because, he says, the no-hearings-no-votes stance goes beyond a prudent or appropriate political response to the Democrats’ earlier acts of nomination obstruction.
The leadership of the U.S. Senate has announced that it will not be holding hearings or votes on a nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy opened by the death of Antonin Scalia, and it has the votes to make this stick. All of which makes it a little odd that some publications have been filling acres of news space with biographies of long-shot hopefuls destined not to be picked for a vacancy that is itself likely not to be filled, at least not anytime soon. (Of course, it does advance the White House’s political strategy to maximize press coverage in this way.) Jonathan Adler points out, as have others, that the Senate’s advise-and-consent role does not generate any constitutional duty to consider a nominee, however one weighs the prudential and political considerations for doing so. And Adler also points out that the Senate majority’s “No Hearings, No Votes” position makes it even more inappropriate than usual for some conservatives to start launching smear campaigns against possible liberal names, as by “tarring potential nominees because they once represented unsavory clients” — aside from the fact that (as both conservatives and defenders of the law should know) such smear campaigns are not good for the soul.
More/update: President Obama has now nominated D.C. Circuit chief judge Merrick Garland. Commentary by my colleague Ilya Shapiro (“Chief Judge Garland is assuredly a liberal vote on the most controversial, culture-war issues, but he’s just as surely the most moderate Democratic-leaning jurist under consideration on cases that fly under the radar.”); Stuart Taylor (“I predict that he will be confirmed — after the election, assuming Hillary wins, and after the lame-duck R’s have about 3 seconds to consider their options.”), Jonathan Adler (also: “His record on the D.C. Circuit is one of deference to the government across a wide range of issues,”), Trevor Burrus, and Jim Copland.
It isn’t especially onerous for the Supreme Court to operate with eight Justices, as we know from earlier vacancies and recusals, note Josh Blackman and Ilya Shapiro [Wall Street Journal] History of election-year SCOTUS nominations and confirmations doesn’t prove what some liberals imagine it does [Roger Pilon; Jonathan Adler and follow-up]
Plus: Wouldn’t it be nice if every Supreme Court nominee were asked to name something he or she thinks is a good idea yet unconstitutional, or, conversely a bad idea that is constitutional? [Trevor Burrus]
- John Lott Jr. argues in new book that judicial-nominations system is broken; responses from Michael Teter, Clint Bolick, John McGinnis [Cato Unbound]
- “Weaponized IRS” meets Administration’s political needs at cost of future public trust [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today]
- “For some time, however, cause lawyers have moved in and out of government, thus complicating the traditional picture of lawyer-state opposition.” [Douglas Nejaime, “Cause Lawyers Inside the State,” SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum]
- Gun rights: public opinion has changed over the decades in a big way [Bryan Caplan, Steven Greenhut]
- “Mostyn Law Firm donates $1 million to help Wendy Davis in Texas governor’s race” [Washington Examiner, New Republic] Plaintiff’s bar supporting GOP primary challenges to Texas Supreme Court incumbents Phil Johnson, Jeff Brown, and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht [TLR] More: Legal NewsLine (Mark Lanier Law Firm largely funding challengers)
- Nassau’s Kathleen Rice: “Anti-Corruption Panel Co-Chair Receives Big Donations From Sheldon Silver’s Law Firm” [Ken Lovett, NYDN]
- Rule of thumb: a political party leans libertarian in proportion to the number of years since it last held the White House [Orin Kerr]
- Dept. of Justice indicts a prominent Obama critic on campaign finance charge [Ira Stoll; more above]
Comments from my Cato Institute colleagues Roger Pilon and Ilya Shapiro, as well as CEI’s Hans Bader. A “totally risk-free strategy for Democrats, as long as they are never again in the minority.” [Lowering the Bar] Patterico on the elegant consistency of the New York Times editorial page over the years (it is consistent, once you know to look for the pattern) and an unheeded 2005 prayer (YouTube, auto-plays) from then-Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.). And some further observations from Jonathan Adler.
P.S. Further thoughts from Roger Pilon regarding the immediate focal point of the struggle, the three nominations to the D.C. Circuit:
…a second point, too little noted, concerns the implications from there being numerous “judicial emergencies” in the other circuits — vacancies in seriously overworked circuits for which the president hasn’t even named anyone. Judicial emergencies have increased 90 percent since 2006, and the vacancies with nominees have declined from 60 percent to 47 percent. Yet rather than attend to filling those vacancies, Obama and Reid are focused on adding three more judges to the already seriously underworked and overstaffed DC Circuit. That speaks volumes, of course, about what their agenda is. As I wrote yesterday, the DC Circuit’s docket is mostly about challenges to administrative decisions. Judges in such cases have considerable discretion about whether or not to defer to the judgment of those agencies. If you want to rule by executive diktat, as Obama plainly does, you’ll want “your people” on that court, deferring to “your people” at EPA, HHS, OSHA, the FEC, the IRS, and so on down the line. Let the folks out in the country wait a little longer to get justice.
P.P.S. And relatedly from Mickey Kaus:
Regulation is D.C.’s economic substructure, its mode of production, as Marx might say – even more so than legislation. Those big gleaming office buildings aren’t filled with Congressional lobbyists! They’re filled with administrative lawyers. Now, with a full 11 member court stacked to favor Democrats, there will be even more rules to litigate, more counsel to hire, more mansions to house them and restaurants to feed them. Whatever happens in the rest of America, the capital’s economic future is secure.
They should erect a statue of Harry Reid outside the Mazza Gallerie.
It’s precisely the outstanding candidates that opponents gun for, writes Conn Carroll, recalling the case of U. Va.’s Lillian BeVier. [Washington Examiner]
- Lacey Act madness: might Feds be empowered to disrupt summer concerts by seizing musicians’ Gibsons? [Bedard, DC Examiner; earlier; recent Heritage Foundation work; reworded to reflect comment from “Density Duck,” below]
- Contributors to new “Privatization Blog” include friend of this blog Coyote, e.g. here and here;
- “Big Government Causes Hyper-Partisanship in the Judicial Appointment Process” [Ilya Shapiro] Fuels Culture War, too: “The faster the state expands, the more likely it is to violate your values” [Matt Welch]
- Demagogy on expatriates: Schumer proposal for stiff tax on emigrants may have read better in original German [Ira Stoll, Roger Pilon/Cato, Paul Caron/TaxProf]
- Georgia high court considers $459 million fax-spam verdict [AJC, AP, my take] “Hot fuel” class actions enrich the usual suspects [PoL]
- New rebuttal to trial lawyer/HBO movie “Hot Coffee” [Victor Schwartz et al, auto-plays video] Ted Frank crossed swords with Litigation Lobby on the movie in January, particularly on the question of coffee temperature and the Liebeck case [PoL]
- Overlawyered “will become the first [law] blog teenager this summer” [Bruce Carton, Legal Blog Watch] “I’ve been a fan of Walter Olson’s Overlawyered blog for years.” [Amy Alkon, Advice Goddess] Thanks!