Friday, March 24, 2017

Thank You, Gov. Sandoval, for Vetoing MVR Bill in Nevada

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a measure (IP1) that would have established mandatory, or automatic, voter registration (MVR) in Nevada.  His veto message showed that Gov. Sandoval understands the risks to individual liberty and election integrity that MVR poses:
IP1 advances a worthy goal by encouraging more eligible Nevadans to register to vote.  However, such a result must partner with sound policy.  IP1 fails this test because it extinguishes a fundamental, individual choice—the right of eligible voters to decide for themselves whether they desire to apply to register to vote—forfeiting this basic decision to state government.
Supporters of IP1 argue that the government’s provision of an “opt-out” from the automatic application process substitutes for the decision by the individual to apply to register to vote. However, the core freedom of deciding whether one wishes to initiate voter registration belongs to the individual, not the government.
Moreover, if IP1 became law, it would create an unnecessary risk that people who are not qualified voters may unintentionally apply to vote, subjecting them to possible criminal prosecution, fines, and other legal action. . . . 
The current DMV voter registration process provides the necessary balance for voluntary and informed voter registration. IP1 upsets that balance, removing the element of allowing an individual to initiate the voter registration process, and increasing the possibility of improper registration.
Instead of going back to the Nevada legislature, the measure will now go before Nevada voters during the general election in 2018.  Gov. Sandoval also wisely recognized that the decision for Nevada to "mandate compulsory application for voter registration by the government" is best made by the people, whose liberties will be restricted by the change.

Thank you, Governor Sandoval, for understanding how dangerous compulsion by the government is, recognizing how easily MVR can lead to ineligible persons being registered to vote, and trusting the people of Nevada to make this important decision for themselves.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Feinstein Admitted That Democrats Aren't Considering Gorsuch's Record

RNLA Co-Chair John Ryder highlighted a "remarkable exchange" between Senator Dianne Feinstein and Judge Neil Gorsuch on Tuesday:
In conformity with the ethical requirements for judges, he refused to bind himself to how he would rule on future cases, prompting Mrs. Feinstein to lament: “How do we have confidence in you that you won’t be just for the big corporations? That you will be for the little men? … I’m just looking for something that would indicate that you would give a worker a fair shot, maybe it is in your background somewhere that I don’t know about, but I’d like to have you respond to it any way you can.” . . .  
Judge Gorsuch thanked Mrs. Feinstein for the opportunity to correct the presentation of his judicial record, noting that he had participated in more than 2,700 opinions in over 10 years on the federal bench and Democratic senators had selected just a few to focus on that do “not represent the body of my work.” He has, as he pointed out, ruled for both big corporate and “little guy” parties, depending on the law applicable in that case. . . . Then he listed 13 cases in which he ruled for . . . “little guys.” 
Mrs. Feinstein’s response was astounding: “That’s helpful. We’ll find them and read them.” Think about what that means. 
In the seven weeks since President Trump announced Judge Gorsuch as his nominee to Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, Mrs. Feinstein and her staff have not bothered to thoroughly research or review the judge’s extensive record. . . . Instead of engaging in a meaningful review of the nominee and his qualifications, the senator and her staff have been content to rely on the talking points given to them by radically progressive groups whose only goal is to oppose Mr. Trump, Republicans and conservative principles in any and every way possible.
This was typical of the Democrats' approach throughout the hearing, in which they either focused on the outcomes (and rarely the legal reasoning) of a small handful of cases cherrypicked from his extensive judicial record or attempted to have him unethically bind himself on future cases or express political views.  Instead of engaging in a genuine inquiry into Judge Gorsuch's legal philosophy and interpretative methods, they chose (with a handful of notable exceptions) to simply repeat progressive talking points that voters showed they were tired of last fall.

Click here to follow RNLA's commentary and highlights on Twitter. Please consider signing the RNLA's letter to the Senate in support of Judge Gorsuch's confirmation here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch: The Type of Judge Envisioned by Our Framers

Within the last week, there have been many opinions and editorials written by the legal experts and supporters of Judge Gorsuch. He has actually racked up quite the list of supporters--liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, lawyers and non-lawyers. Judge Gorsuch is continuing to add to his list of supporters, now including two former chief judges from the Tenth Circuit: Deanell Reece Tacha and Robert Henry.

The Judges take a slightly different approach in their article. They look at the confirmation process a bit differently, undoubtedly, in part due to their own confirmation experiences as former federal circuit court judges. They emphasise the need for the Judiciary to remain independent and not to cave on Senators' questions that could erode this independence.

Our primary Framer for the courts was none other than Alexander Hamilton, of recently renewed fame. Describing the judiciary in Federalist 78 as the “least dangerous” of the three branches of government, Hamilton emphasized that the “complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution.” This “independence of the judges” is a most sacred tradition in U.S. constitutional law, requiring all judges to have no obligations to those who nominated or confirmed them.
Besides — as history has revealed — it is not even possible to select Supreme Court justices based on how they might rule on given topics. Detailed discussions during the confirmation process on issues that might come before a judge are not proper; in fact, they would in all likelihood require recusals from the cases discussed. Litmus tests are not acceptable. Furthermore, the controversies that go before the court often bring unique and complicated facts that could completely change a judge’s sincerely espoused view.
. . .
We are both former chief judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. One of us is a lifelong Republican; the other, a lifelong Democrat. We both had the opportunity to serve with Gorsuch for several years on the 10th Circuit. He was, like most good judges, assiduously attentive to the facts and law in each case. All of the matters mentioned above (and others) should influence — or even change — a judge’s decision dealing with the specific set of facts in any case before him or her.
Gorsuch’s body of work is surely informed by both textualism and originalism, but he was, in our experience, always open to consideration in the proper cases of precedent, history, tradition and the “bones” of our federal republic’s structure. Other important traits of Gorsuch that are not likely to change: his fair consideration of opposing views, his remarkable intelligence, his wonderful judicial temperament expressed to litigants and his collegiality toward colleagues.
If we seek to confirm to the Supreme Court a noted intellect, a collegial colleague, and gifted and eloquent writer — as well as a person of exhibited judicial temperament — Gorsuch fits that bill. He represents the best of the judicial tradition in our country. We think that Hamilton would concur.
Judge Gorsuch wrapped up his testimony tonight.  Tomorrow, an expert panel will testify on Judge Gorsuch's credentials and qualifications. A final vote is expected in early April.

Click here to follow RNLA's commentary and highlights on Twitter. Please consider signing the RNLA's letter to the Senate in support of Judge Gorsuch's confirmation here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Judge Gorsuch Meets All the Democratic Standards for SCOTUS Nominees

Today, Michael Thielen, Executive Director of the RNLA, wrote an op-ed for The Daily Caller pointing out that Judge Gorsuch meets and should be held to all the Democratic Standards as applied to past Supreme Court nominees in recent history.

First and foremost, the Senate was merely following the Schumer Standard.  In July 2007, current Minority Leader and then-Senator Chuck Schumer said if any new Supreme Court vacancies opened up, Democrats should not allow President Bush the chance to fill it “except in extraordinary circumstances,” as his term was almost over.  July 2007 was seven months sooner than Senate Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the Schumer Standard.  It should also be noted Leader McConnell used the Schumer Standard before Garland was even nominated. . . . Second, the Gorsuch hearing should have nothing to do with Judge Garland or his nomination.  The Garland Nomination in 2016 was not about his qualifications, but solely turned on the Senate process in an election year per the Schumer Standard.  This is a non-issue today.
Meanwhile, the next Democratic standard dates to the Reagan Era and was established when considering Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court Nomination.  The Leahy Standard announced in 1986 by the longest-serving senator and former Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy says: “I think as members of the [Judiciary] Committee, we should respect the mandate the president has earned.  The president had told us in 1980 and 1984 he would appoint judges of his philosophy.  He was given a mandate to do that.  This Committee, if the nominees are otherwise qualified, should respect that.” 
Judge Gorsuch more than satisfies both elements of the Leahy Standard.  President Trump went further than President Reagan by announcing a list of 21 potential judges that he would nominate during the 2016 campaign.  Gorsuch was on that list.  President Trump decisively won the Presidency. Therefore, it is clear that President Trump clearly has a mandate to nominate and confirm Gorsuch. . . The second element of the Leahy Standard requires a nominee be “otherwise qualified.”  Fortunately, we do not have to guess what Senator Leahy meant in this case.  Senators Leahy and Schumer have been very clear in the later standard: the American Bar Association’s (ABA) assessment being the “gold standard” in evaluating federal judicial nominations.  Here, the ABA has given Judge Gorsuch its highest rating, unanimously well-qualified.  As such, Gorsuch easily meets these Standards established by the Democrats. 
What if Neil Gorsuch fails to adequately testify at his confirmation?  Well — the reality is by the standards of the Democrats’ beloved Justice — Democrats simply cannot complain.  As liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated during her confirmation hearing to the Supreme Court, she could offer “no hints, no forecasts, no previews.” 
However, if Senator Schumer insists on ignoring all his own side’s standards, Leader McConnell can use one last Democrat Standard, the Reid Standard.  Then-Senate Majority leader Harry Reid changed the procedure to requiring a simple majority of votes for all nominees, but Supreme Court nominees.  However, Reid made clear that was a mere formality, when he said last October:  “I really do believe that I have set the Senate so when I leave, we’re going to be able to get judges done with a majority,” he said. “It’s clear to me that if the Republicans try to filibuster another circuit court judge, but especially a Supreme Court justice, I’ve told ’em how and I’ve done it, not just talking about it. I did it in changing the rules of the Senate. It’ll have to be done again.” 
So, the Reid Standard clears the way for the Republicans to confirm a Supreme Court nominee as always been done with a simple majority.  Senator Schumer responded to Reid’s comments by saying: “I hope we don’t get to that”. . . The irony is if the Democrats don’t follow their own clear and articulated standards, Leader McConnell may be forced to make them follow their own former leader’s standards and impose the Reid Standard upon the Senate.
The full article is a good read especially as the Senate Judiciary Committee questions Judge Gorsuch. Yesterday, opening statements were made by the senators on the Judicary Committee and Judge Gorsuch. Today, the first round of questions are proceeding one-on-one by the senators on the Committee. Tomorrow, round two is expected to commence and scheduled to conclude. Thursday, the Committee will hear testimony by various legal experts. 

Follow the RNLA's real-time Twitter commentary today and tomorrow here. Also, please consider signing the RNLA's letter to the Senate in support of Judge Gorsuch's confirmation here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Highlights of Twitter Today on Gorsuch Hearing

Here are some highlights from Twitter coverage (aside from the RNLA's coverage) of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court, which began today:

The hearing will reconvene tomorrow at 9:30 AM Eastern and is expected to go through Thursday.   For great coverage of the hearing on Twitter, follow:

RNLA will be live-tweeting and retweeting great commentary throughout the hearing.  Follow us on Twitter here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

RNLA Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Judge Gorsuch

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

On behalf of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), we urge you to promptly confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. 

Judge Gorsuch’s legal and judicial experience has prepared him well to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.  In private practice, he represented his clients with skill and zeal, understanding their concerns and how the law impacted them individually and advocating for their interests, and he was well-respected by colleagues and opposing counsel alike.

As a federal appellate judge for the past ten years, he has demonstrated a deep understanding of the role of a judge in our constitutional system.  Judge Gorsuch has proven that he is committed to the rule of law by carefully considering the text, history, and structure of laws and applying them to the facts of each case before him.  He has sought to interpret the Constitution and the law impartially and communicate his interpretation through clear, concise language that makes his judicial decisions understandable by both lawyers and non-lawyers.  Judge Gorsuch’s jurisprudential methodology protects the rights of individual citizens, respects the separation of powers, and provides citizens notice of what laws mean and how they will be applied.

The RNLA is the home of Republican lawyers in the Republican Party.  Before his nomination to the federal bench, Mr. Gorsuch was a leader in the RNLA.  We were privileged to work with such a competent, intelligent attorney then and are equally honored to support his nomination to the Supreme Court now.  

Thank you for your careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch and his excellent qualifications to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  We encourage the Judiciary Committee, and the whole Senate, to promptly confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch.


RNLA Leadership 

A copy of the letter is here.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Leahy Rules for Supreme Court Confirmation Mean Gorsuch Must Be Confirmed

In preparation for the Gorsuch hearing next week, we thought we would mention some of the Democrat Rules for confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice from their most senior member. The Leahy Rule (Part 1) on the President’s power to pick a Supreme Court Justice.
And I think as members of the [Judiciary] Committee, we should respect the mandate the president has earned.  The president had told us in 1980 and 1984 he would appoint judges of his philosophy.  He was given a mandate to do that.  This Committee, if the nominees are otherwise qualified, should respect that. (Senator Patrick Leahy, Meeting of Senate Judiciary Committee 69, Aug. 14, 1986, discussing Justice Scalia.)  
This quote is incredibly relevant as President Trump ran on Gorsuch as a possible nominee.  Thus, he deserves even more respect than President Reagan on that front.   

The Leahy Rule (Part 1) dictates Gorsuch be confirmed as long as he is “otherwise qualified.”  The Leahy Rule (Part 2) dictates that the ABA rating of a nominee is the gold standard.  As current Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley stated recently (emphasis ours):
With less than two weeks to go before he appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on his nomination to the Supreme Court, the American Bar Association on Thursday gave 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch its highest possible rating.
“The ABA’s ringing endorsement is no surprise given Judge Gorsuch’s sterling credentials and his distinguished decade-long record on the Tenth Circuit,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. “Former Chairman [Sen. Patrick] Leahy and [Senate] Minority Leader [Chuck] Schumer have called the ABA’s assessment the ‘gold standard’ in evaluating federal judicial nominations. In light of Judge Gorsuch’s impeccable record, it’s hard to imagine any other result from the ABA’s consideration.”
The Leahy Rules mean that Judge Gorsuch should be promptly and easily confirmed.