Tag: confirmation

Neil Gorsuch plagiarized multiple authors in book and academic article

Senate Republicans intend to change the rules of the Senate in order to confirm a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) for this guy:

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to POLITICO.

The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.

[…]

…six experts on academic integrity contacted independently by POLITICO differed in their assessment of what Gorsuch did, ranging from calling it a clear impropriety to mere sloppiness.

You read that correctly. Neil Gorsuch, who is likely to be confirmed to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia, plagiarized other people’s writings on more than one occasion. Gorsuch isn’t just too ideologically extreme for our nation’s highest bench. He’s too unethical for our nation’s highest bench.

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One of the most right-wing newspapers in the entire country couldn’t find a single Betsy DeVos supporter in the education community

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post was originally written on Medium by the administrator of this blog and has been republished in full.


Above the fold on the front page of today’s issue of The News-Gazette, a Champaign, Illinois-based newspaper that covers the east-central part of Illinois and has a very right-wing reputation, was this story about how many in the public education community are opposed to the nomination of Betsy DeVos to the office of U.S. Secretary of Education.

In The News-Gazette’s attempt to find a DeVos supporter, they couldn’t find a single one in the educational community in East Central Illinois.

The strongest opposition to DeVos came obviously from teachers’ union leaders, although many in management (i.e., public school administrators) strongly opposed DeVos as well. Sheila Greenwood, the superintendent of schools in the Bement, Illinois public school system (covering southern portions of Piatt County, Illinois), said this about DeVos:

Bement Superintendent Sheila Greenwood was so appalled by how DeVos answered senators’ questions last month that she contacted her legislators, “begging them to put a stop to this insanity.”

“She couldn’t answer basic questions about schools, funding or assessment. She is uber-wealthy and has no experiences with public education because she lives like the 1 percent and knows nothing,” Greenwood said. “I think Trump will have his puppet and others will run the department.

Jeremy Darnell, the superintendent of the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley public school system in Illinois (map of district here), said this about DeVos:

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Superintendent Jeremy Darnell was unimpressed with her hearing, as well, saying it was “very evident” she lacks understanding of current education issues.

[…]

“Votes should be cast on merit, preparation and the ability to effectively fill an essential role in our national government, not party line politics,” Darnell said. “All appointments should be considered for their ability to effectively advise our elected leadership. No leader can be a master at all so the essential need to surround yourself with experts in their field is more important today than ever.

The Bement and Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school districts are located in some of the most Republican areas in all of Illinois, and voters in both school districts voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

The closest person that The News-Gazette could find to a DeVos supporter was Mr. Seth Miller, the superintendent of the public school system that I attended, the Westville Community Unit School District in Illinois. I’m paraphrasing, but Mr. Miller’s thoughts about DeVos were basically of the “give DeVos a chance if she’s confirmed” mentality without offering any explicit support of DeVos:

“We have the best educational system in the world. A leader who is committed to children, who need access to public education, would receive my support,” Miller said. “… Spirited debate with informed constituents helps make us a strong country — big enough and brave enough for diverse opinions. It is my hope that whoever is confirmed as the next secretary of education will help perpetuate this democratic ideal in our public school system.”

Having seen video clips of the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, it is clear to me that, if confirmed, DeVos would be a downright horrible Education Secretary.

PETITION: Tell the Senate to hold confirmation hearings on Steve Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains the body of an online petition, written by the author of this blog post, republished in full.


President Donald Trump has appointed Stephen Kevin “Steve” Bannon, one of Trump’s closest allies and a top White House adviser to Trump, to a seat on the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC is responsible for advising the President on matters affecting America’s national security.

A federal statutory law, section (a)(6) of federal statute 50 U.S. Code 3021, requires that civilian appointees to the NSC receive confirmation by the U.S. Senate for appointment to the NSC. Although the creator of this petition is not an attorney, it appears that Bannon, whose legally holds the offices of Senior Counselor to the President and White House Chief Strategist, would qualify as an individual of the (a)(6) category, meaning that Bannon would be legally required to receive Senate confirmation in order to legally become a member of the NSC.

Confirmation hearings for Bannon’s appointment to the NSC would give Senators opportunities to question Bannon over his work at the far-right website Breitbart, allegations that he physically beat his wife, and his offensive anti-Semitic remarks. It is very much possible that, even with Republicans holding a 52-48 majority in the Senate, Bannon may be rejected by the Senate.

We, the signatories of this petition, hereby call for the U.S. Senate to hold confirmation hearings for the appointment of Stephen Kevin “Steve” Bannon to the National Security Council.

You can sign the petition here.

Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing POSTPONED because Trump’s appointees aren’t being properly vetted

The controversy regarding Republican President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress attempting to ram through Trump’s appointees without Trump’s appointees being properly vetted by federal ethics officials is not going away. In fact, one of Trump’s appointees, Betsy DeVos, who is Trump’s pick for U.S. Education Secretary, has had her confirmation hearing postponed until next week because the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has not been able to complete its end of the vetting process:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee announced late Monday that it had rescheduled the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.

“At the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule, we have agreed to move the nomination hearing of Betsy DeVos to Tuesday, January 17th at 5:00 p.m.,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a release late Monday.

While Betsy DeVos has made it clear for a long time that she wants to destroy public education in America, what is an even bigger problem than that is the fact that multiple Trump appointees, apparently including DeVos, have not been properly vetted to the legal standard, not a political standard, for vetting a presidential appointment. I’ll even add that, given the seriousness of the fact that OGE has not been able to properly vet Trump’s appointees, the letter from the OGE Director regarding the issue should have been addressed to the entire Senate, not just Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Why I’m demanding a no vote on SCOTUS appointee Merrick Garland

Earlier today, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who currently holds the most powerful federal judgeship below the Supreme Court, the office of Chief Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Cir.), to the Associate Justice seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that became vacant upon the death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

While Garland would be a significant improvement over Scalia and a left-leaning swing vote on SCOTUS if confirmed, I strongly encourage Democratic U.S. Senators to demand that the Senate do its constitutional duty of conducting a confirmation process on the Garland appointment, but vote against Garland if given the opportunity to do so.

There is one primary reason why I oppose the nomination of Garland to our nation’s highest bench, and that is Garland’s deferral to the executive branch of the federal government, even if it blatantly goes against the constitutional rights of people. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Garland deferred similarly to federal agencies during the presidency of George W. Bush, irking many liberals with a 2003 ruling that denied Guantanamo detainees judicial review (later overturned by the Supreme Court) and with a string of pro-police rulings under Presidents Bill Clinton, Bush and Obama.

The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is not to build political consensus or issue rulings based on the current political climate at the time the ruling is issued. The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is to interpret the U.S. Constitution and federal laws, with the Constitution being the supreme law of the land. Garland’s complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the accused shows that Garland’s own interpretation of the Constitution is flawed, and that he should not be a SCOTUS justice.

While I strongly oppose Senate Republicans who won’t even schedule a confirmation hearing for Garland, I call for Senate Democrats to demand an opportunity to vote against Garland, in committee and, if he were to make it out of committee, the full Senate.

Joni Ernst sends virtually blank response to constituent’s request not to block SCOTUS appointment

Sometime in the immediate future, President Barack Obama will appoint someone to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

One of the many Republican U.S. Senators who support obstructing anyone that the president appoints to the Supreme Court is Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). Many of Ernst’s constituents in Iowa are not happy at all that Ernst wants the U.S. Senate to neglect its duty to either confirm or reject whoever the president appoints to SCOTUS, and one of them is Maggie White, who is a civil rights attorney from Iowa’s largest city, Des Moines. When White emailed Ernst’s office about Ernst and her fellow Senate Republicans wanting to do absolutely nothing in regards to the president’s SCOTUS pick, White did a very important civic duty by contacting Ernst’s office about the matter. Here’s how Ernst responded to White:

Joni Ernst sent one of her constituents a virtually blank response to a message that one of her constituents sent to her! By “virtually blank response”, I mean that Ernst’s response to Maggie White’s message contained a letterhead, a salutation, and a closing, not a body. The body of the email, which there is none in this particular email, is where Ernst’s response to White’s message would have been.

The U.S. Constitution is clear. The president must appoint a new SCOTUS justice, the Senate must either confirm or reject that appointment. For the Senate to not even conduct a confirmation process amounts to the Senate neglecting its Constitutional duty of advice and consent. It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure that out.

The last progressive victory of 2014: Far-right Obama judicial nominee Michael Boggs will NOT be confirmed or re-nominated

Michael Boggs, a former right-wing Democratic Georgia State Representative (yes, there used to be right-wing Democrats in office in Georgia and other Southern states), will not be confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will not be re-nominated by President Barack Obama to a lifetime term to a federal judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

While this isn’t a pretty victory by any stretch of the imagination, since there’s still a large number of federal judicial vacancies, this is a progressive victory because Boggs would have been a rubber stamp for the Republicans’ far-right agenda had he been confirmed as a federal judge.

When Boggs ran for and won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, Boggs campaigned as an ultra-conservative, supporting the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda, the Confederate flag, and school prayer and opposing openly-gay Boy Scout leaders, reproductive rights, and marriage equality. During his 2000 campaign, Boggs’s campaign distributed this flyer touting his pro-discrimination and anti-equality views on social issues and stating that he was running as a Democrat simply to get a committee chairmanship and advance far-right legislation (at the time, Democrats controlled the Georgia House of Representatives). More importantly, as a Georgia State Representative, Boggs built up a right-wing, pro-discrimination, and anti-equality voting record that is far out of line with what is expected of Democrats of today’s Democratic Party.

Michael Boggs’s bid to be a federal judge is, at least for the next two years, is over, and this is the last progressive victory in 2014. While I expect very few progressive victories in 2015, given that Republicans will have increased power in Congress and in numerous state governments, I hope that us progressives score some victories, and I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year.