Outside editorial: A judicial breakthrough

The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times:

Delays in the confirmation of federal judges aren’t uppermost in Americans’ minds when they complain about partisan dysfunction in Congress. But the determination of Senate Republicans to delay President Obama’s judicial nominees — even those who have won bipartisan support from the Judiciary Committee — is emblematic of the polarization that also has sabotaged efforts of the two parties to work together on numerous other fronts. And the delays are objectionable in themselves: They deprive the courts of needed personnel, slow the administration of justice and deter well-qualified candidates from agreeing to be considered for the bench.

So it’s a hopeful sign that Republicans have agreed to vote on 14 judicial nominations by May 7. (One of the nominees, Los Angeles lawyer Michael Walter Fitzgerald, was confirmed Thursday for the U.S. District Court for Central California.) It would be heartening to report that the Republicans agreed to the votes because they repented of the obstructionism of some of their members, but in fact their agreement followed a power play by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who filed cloture motions to try to force votes on 17 nominations.

Rather irrelevantly, Republicans had complained that Reid hadn’t made judicial confirmations a priority. Now he has. Republicans also have faulted the Obama administration for being slow to fill vacancies on district and appeals courts. That is a fair criticism. There are 81 vacancies but only 39 pending nominees (including two for future vacancies). But it is Republicans who have withheld the unanimous consent necessary for nominations already approved by the Judiciary Committee to move forward expeditiously and without prolonged debate.

The White House complains that the Senate has taken four to five times as long to confirm Obama’s nominees as it did to approve George W. Bush’s. Nevertheless, several of Bush’s nominations were delayed or derailed by Senate Democrats, including eminently qualified appeals court nominees whom they feared might be potential Republican appointees to the Supreme Court. Controversial or not, every judicial nominee deserves serious consideration by the Senate and an expeditious up-or-down vote — and no more partisan games.

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Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:41

Letter: A pro-life presidency is something to be thankful for

​On Jan. 20, we will see the inauguration of a new president. From the pro-life perspective, this is something to be thankful for. That day represents the departure from the White House of one of the most pro-abortion presidents we have seen to date. His replacement is a man who has voiced support for a number of pro-life, pro-family initiatives that will protect the rights of the unborn and their mothers. Read more

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:22

My Turn: Alaska’s national parks need infrastructure support

In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its centennial anniversary. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Denali National Park, one of the many crown jewels in Alaska’s collection of our national parks. These parks represent the very best and most treasured public lands in our country. As we hear about badly needed infrastructure improvements to our roads, bridges and utilities nationwide, it’s important to remember that our national parks are not immune to these challenges. Denali National Park alone faces an infrastructure repair backlog to roads and facilities of $53 million.

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Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:22

My Turn: Reflecting on why I love Alaska

Gov. Bill Walker issued a proclamation designating 2017 as a “Year of History and Heritage” in recognition of Alaska’s sesquicentennial — the 150th year since Russia ceded its possessions and interests in Alaska to the United States. Gov. Walker’s proclamation encourages all Alaskans “to study, teach, reflect upon our past, and apply its lessons to a brighter, more inclusive future.”

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Thu, 01/19/2017 - 08:47

Outside Editorial: NATO and the EU: Mend them, don’t end them

The following editorial first appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

In lamenting President Barack Obama's foreign and military policies, Republicans have frequently offered a concise summary: "Our allies don't trust us, and our enemies don't fear us." They didn't imagine the day would come when the same might be said of a Republican president. But that's the prospect Donald Trump raises. Read more

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