Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


President Obama Nominates First Muslim-American To Federal Judiciary

President Obama nominated Abid Qureshi to the federal judiciary Tuesday, the first Muslim-American to be appointed to such a position. Qureshi, a partner at the firm of Latham & Watkins in Washington, DC, was nominated to preside over the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“I am pleased to nominate Mr. Qureshi to serve on the United States District Court bench,” Obama said in a statement. “I am confident he will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”

Unfortunately, Qureshi’s nomination likely won’t go forward, as Senate Republicans have refused to consider Obama’s pick for SCOTUS, Merrick Garland, and it is unlikely they will confirm any judicial picks prior to Obama’s leaving office.

It does, however, send a strong political statement in the midst of an election where one of the two major party candidates has made several disparaging comments not just about Muslims, but about several minority groups.

The reaction to Obama’s nomination from Muslim advocates has been overwhelmingly positive.

Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said:

I commend President Obama for taking this important step in continuing to pick the best and brightest from every community to serve as part of our nation’s judiciary. A judiciary that reflects the rich diversity of our nation helps ensure the fair and just administration of the law, and it is vital for American Muslims to be included. Mr. Qureshi’s profound commitment to the rule of law and justice for people of all backgrounds makes him an exceptional nominee.

There are several options for Qureshi’s nomination to continue forward despite the GOP Senate’s likely refusal to consider him. He could be re-nominated under a Hillary Clinton presidency, if she wins in November. His nomination may also move into a lame duck Congress.

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a statement after the Supreme Court left in place a lower court ruling blocking his plan to spare millions of illegal immigrants from deportation and give them work permits, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Democrats Launch New Push For Obama U.S. Supreme Court Nominee

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Supporters of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s U.S. Supreme Court selection, on Tuesday launched a new push to persuade the Republican-led Senate to act on the nomination before the Nov. 8 presidential election, but their calls fell on deaf ears.

With senators returning to work after a seven-week summer recess, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid called the refusal of Republicans to consider Garland’s nomination “disgusting and repugnant.”

“Republicans have deadlocked our entire system of justice because of the Republican Senate’s dysfunction,” Reid said.

Obama’s nomination of the moderate appeals court judge has been pending without action for 174 days, longer than any other Supreme Court nominee in U.S. history.

The U.S. Constitution gives the Senate the job of confirming a president’s judicial nominees. In a move with little precedent in American history, Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have refused to take any action on Obama’s nominee, insisting that Obama’s successor make the pick.

“The Senate is returning from the longest recess in nearly half a century, and perhaps the Republican leadership was hoping that Americans had forgotten about the unprecedented obstruction of a Supreme Court nominee,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

We Need Nine, a White House-allied group, will hold a news conference in front of the Supreme Court building on Wednesday with Democratic senators and lawyers who previously worked as clerks for Garland.

Republicans sounded unconvinced.

McConnell “has been crystal clear for the last seven months,” an aide to the senator said on Tuesday. “The next president will select the nominee.”

The nine-seat court has been one justice short since the February death of long-serving conservative Antonin Scalia. With four liberals and four conservatives now on the bench, an appointment by a Democratic president could end decades of conservative domination on the court.

The White House has called Garland’s confirmation a top priority for the legislative work period that began on Tuesday and ends in early October.

In remarks last month, Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley indicated he could be persuaded by a large number of senators to take action on Garland in a “lame duck” session immediately after the election. His panel would hold any confirmation hearings.

Some conservatives worry that if Democrat Hillary Clinton defeats Republican Donald Trump in the election, she would nominate someone more liberal than Garland.

But in a statement on Tuesday, Grassley reiterated that “the next president should choose Justice Scalia’s replacement” and said his meetings with home-state voters during the recess “only bolstered the point that Iowans should have the opportunity to have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years.”

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley. Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan)

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland walks after a breakfast with Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Capitol Hill Washington, April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Here’s Who Trump Could Add To His Ridiculous SCOTUS List

After releasing a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees Wednesday, Donald Trump said that he may add more names to his list.

He hadn’t mentioned such a plan before releasing the 11 names. Apparently, though Trump says they were “very well received,” they just weren’t enough for the ultraconservatives he’s trying to reassure.

Donald Trump started his hunt for the perfect justice with an invitation to the Heritage Foundation in March. Give me a list, he said, and that’s who I’ll consider. Five of Trump’s first 11 names are from the Heritage Foundation’s list, which is made up ofmostly traditional conservative choices — meaning they hold radical views on abortion, corporate speech, environmental protections, and the place of religion in public life.

The Heritage Foundation itself, conveniently, publicly released that list of “highly qualified, principled individuals” that “the new president should consider” just a week after Donald Trump asked them for it. Perhaps Trump will include the list’s remaining judges left behind when he again breaks with precedent and preemptively releases possible names before being elected to anything.

He could include Brett Kavanaugh, a Bush-appointed justice serving alongside Merrick Garland on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh was recommended by the Heritage Foundation as a suitable replacement for Antonin Scalia, and he has a solid record of towing the Republican Party’s line, even to the point of offering “advice to the Republicans who are challenging Obama,” according to a 2012 piece in The New Yorker.

He was the sole justice in the three-justice circuit court to dissent from a ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act that year, saying that the lawsuit was premature. Instead, he wrote in his dissent, “Under the Constitution, the President may decline to enforce a statute that regulates private individuals when the President deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute constitutional.” That president would presumably be a Republican.

There’s also Paul Clement, the 43rd U.S. solicitor general, a Bush appointee, who is now in private practice. He also fought against the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the government forcing people to buy health insurance was just the start.

“He has become, in the Obama age, a sort of anti–solicitor general—the go-to lawyer for some of the Republican Party’s most significant, and polarizing, legal causes,” said a New York Magazine profile in 2012. “In January, he argued before the Court, on behalf of Rick Perry, against a Texas congressional-redistricting plan that had been crafted by a federal-district court to protect minority voters. Next month, he’ll defend Arizona’s restrictive immigration law.”

Clement also defended the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of congressional Republicans and fought against the Obama administration’s attempts to block South Carolina’s voter ID laws.

The last remaining candidate on the Heritage Foundation’s list of Supreme Court nominees was Utah Representative and Tea Party darling Mike Lee, now known for using a procedural hold to block a vote on federal assistance to Flint, Michigan in the aftermath of revelations that the city’s water supply was tainted with lead, claiming that the city, neglected for years by the state government, did not need federal aid.

“The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem,” said Lee. “The only thing Congress is contributing to the Flint recovery is political grandstanding.”

According to a ideology score, Lee is among one of the most conservative members of the Senate based on the bills he has sponsored, sitting to the right of all but three Republican senators. He was also the first senator to endorse Ted Cruz, the man so hated in Congress that John Boehner claimed he was “Lucifer in the flesh.”

Are there more conservatives out there Trump will look to add to his list? Probably. But given his promise to outsource the job of Supreme Court nominations to a right wing think tank, watching what the Heritage Foundation says is likely a good predictor.

Trump Releases List Of 11 Possible SCOTUS Nominees

Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court picks Wednesday following months of speculation over who he would nominate to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat should he win the presidency in November.

The list is widely seen as a strategy by Trump to placate the “movement conservatives” actively resisting his candidacy, by committing to place sufficiently right-wing justices on the court.

Trump has named a total of 11 possible candidates for the position, according to a list obtained by the Associated Press. Those candidates were: Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado, Raymond Gruender of Missouri, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.

Three of the candidates, Hardiman, Kethledge, and Pryor, were appointed to their seats by George W. Bush, a move that could be seen as an attempt to placate anti-Trump conservatives who claimed he was not really a conservative. Republican political donors and social conservatives who have so far been dismayed by Trump’s takeover of the party may hold their noses if he settles on an explicitly pro-life and pro-business pick.

Trump wasn’t always set on naming judges who could placate Republicans accusing him of being too liberal. Before Trump had to get serious about who he would nominate to the court — or, realistically, before he had to reassure conservative donors that he was really a Republican — infamous Trump surrogate Roger Stone said in March, “I can’t think of anybody who’d be a more fitting replacement for the late Judge Anton ‘Nino’ Scalia than [Fox News host and 9/11 truther] Judge Napolitano … I think that’s exactly the right spot for him.”

Trump also floated his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a senior judge in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. “I would love to,” he said during an interview on Bloomberg. “But I think she would be the one to say, ‘No way, no way.'”

Two of the judges currently on Trump’s list, Pryor and Sykes, were previously named as potential nominees, and their judicial records show they would be a peace offering to conservatives opposed to Trump. Pryor is a stridently pro-life candidate who said Roe v. Wade allowed for “a constitutional right to murder an unborn child.” He has also supported strict voter ID laws, which time and again have been proven to suppress the voting rights of minorities. Similarly, Sykes, the ex-wife of #NeverTrump radio host Charlie Sykes, penned a court decision that broadened religious objectors’ ability to deny women health coverage for contraceptives.

The National Review, a standard-bearing conservative publication home to many anti-Trump conservatives, is one in a chorus of conservative voices that have said Trump’s Supreme Court picks are just as important as his blatant nativism and racism.

“If there were a way to be absolutely certain that Trump would appoint two, three, or four Antonin Scalia clones during his presidency, a lot of Trump-skeptic conservatives might immediately see one giant reason to vote for him,” swrote Jim Geraghty on the magazine’s website yesterday. “If nothing else, they could rest easy knowing that the Second Amendment wouldn’t be effectively nullified or curtailed, that Citizens United would remain the law of the land, that voter-ID laws would be upheld, and that pro-lifers could continue to make progress in the courts.”

The Heritage Foundation, a right wing think connected to many deep-pocketed conservative donors, is said to have had a role in the list’s creation. Trump indicated in March that the think tank would have some role in picking his list, saying he had “authorized the Heritage Foundation to work on the list of names.”

Meanwhile, Trump has called upon Republicans to continue blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination hearing, ostensibly on the grounds that the next president should choose the ninth supreme court justice. “I don’t think so, no I think they should do what they’re doing,” said the likely Republican nominee on “Good Morning America.” “I think they should wait until the next president and let the next president pick.” He continued, “the ideal would be Scalia reincarnated.”

Landing on Trump’s list may have come as a surprise to at least one candidate. A year ago, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willet penned a revealing poem on Twitter: