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Vox Sentences: It’s Gorsuch!

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Hirings at SCOTUS and firings at DOJ.


The Supreme Court reality show, season 1, episode 1

US Supreme Court Mark Wilson/Getty
  • In a live-streamed address Tuesday night, President Donald Trump announced he's nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch, of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to the seat on the Supreme Court vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • True to his reality show roots, Trump made a big deal out of the announcement — and rumors swirled that he was actually bringing both Gorsuch and fellow finalist Thomas Hardiman to DC, to up the element of surprise. (Hardiman didn't make it, in more ways than one.) [Peter Alexander via Twitter]
  • But Gorsuch is a surprisingly conventional pick — just what you might expect of a Republican president. He's young (49 years old), he's an appellate court judge nominated by George W. Bush, and he has a similar judicial ideology to Scalia.
  • [National Review / Ramesh Ponnuru]
  • Where Gorsuch distinguishes himself from other judges isn't really in his ideology or his judicial philosophy (he's a textualist), but in his intellectualism — he's written a whole, carefully reasoned book on assisted suicide (something he might well have to rule on if appointed to the Court). [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • Even before Trump announced Gorsuch as his nominee, at least one Senate Democrat promised to give him the Merrick Garland treatment. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said he would filibuster anyone Trump picks — meaning Trump’s nominee would need 60 votes (and the help of Democrats) to pass the Senate. [Politico / Burgess Everett]
  • In response, Sen. Ted Cruz said the “nuclear option” is not off the table if Democrats mount a filibuster, by eliminating the filibuster (and its attendant 60-vote threshold) on high court nominees. [Los Angeles Times / Lisa Mascaro]
  • Whether or not a protest happens within the walls of Congress, a demonstration outside the Supreme Court building was being organized for Tuesday night even before the announcement.

As things fall apart, Yates is forced out

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired after refusing to defend Trump's executive order Monday night.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired after refusing to defend Trump's executive order Monday night.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty
  • Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates on Monday night after she announced that the Justice Department's lawyers would not defend the president's controversial executive order on immigration and refugees. [The New York Times / Michael Shear, Mark Landler, Matt Apuzzo, and Eric Lichtblau]
  • Yates, a holdover from Obama's DOJ, said she was defying Trump's orders based on the conviction that they were both questionably legal and at odds with the DOJ's mission to "seek justice." It was a remarkable declaration that reflected the hasty process by which the executive orders were jammed through without the customary legal vetting for major White House decisions. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The Trump administration reacted swiftly to dispatch with Yates, with White House adviser Stephen Miller arguing Yates's move was "a further demonstration of how politicized our legal system has become," and that it was a "misguided political protest." [MSNBC / Greta Van Susteren]
  • Liberals rushed to accuse the Trump administration of violating the Justice Department's mandate to impartially enforce the law. Some liberals, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, even compared the firing to Richard Nixon's famous "Saturday Night Massacre" in 1973 — in which Nixon abolished the special prosecutor's office for much more explicitly political reasons. [The Washington Post / Derek Hawkins]
  • Yates's replacement is Dana Boente, a US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Within hours of his appointment, Boente rescinded Yates's order — and told the Justice Department staff to defend Trump's decision. [CNN / Evan Perez and Jeremy Diamond]
  • Boente and company will have plenty of opportunities. Three states — New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia — filed suit against the executive order Tuesday, joining a long list of pending litigation. [Reuters / Scott Malone and Dan Levine]
  • Meanwhile, around 900 US State Department officials signed an internal "dissent" memo critical of the ban. [The Telegraph (UK) / Nick Allen, James Rothwell, and Barney Henderson]

Senate Democrats' spine materializes

Sherrod Brown
Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown led a boycott against two Donald Trump Cabinet nominees on Tuesday.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Senate Democrats took their biggest step yet toward blocking Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees on Tuesday, boycotting the committee hearings of Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin and Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price. [The Washington Post / Ed O'Keefe]
  • The boycott successfully stalls both nominees' path to the Senate floor — the Finance Committee needs a quorum to vote on a nominee, and the boycott deprives them of it. [The New York Times / Alan Rappeport and Eric Lichtblau]
  • The boycott comes as tensions between congressional Democrats and Donald Trump reach a fever pitch over issues ranging from, well, the Supreme Court to the immigration order. But Democrats say the stalled hearings have nothing to do with those. Instead, they've demanded answers about Price's personal financial investments in health care companies... [TPM / Matt Shuham]
  • ...and about reports that Mnuchin had both misstated his personal wealth on disclosure documents to the Senate and misstated how his bank went after mortgages. (Sen. Brown accused Mnuchin of "out-and-out lying" to the committee.) [The Intercept / David Dayen]
  • Republican committee chair Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah, was sputtering mad in his surprise at the boycott. Hatch told reporters that his Democratic colleagues were "idiots," whose tactics were the most "pathetic" action he'd seen in his many years in the chamber. [Politico / Zachary Warmbrot]
  • But for now, there's not much he or other furious Republicans can do in response. And while it's true that the boycott is an unusual tactic in the Senate, Republicans pulled a similar stunt in 2013 — refusing to vote on President Obama's EPA nominee. [Vox / Libby Nelson]

Miscellaneous

  • You may have heard that the German apprentice system is good. But have you considered the possibility that it is in fact bad? [WSJ / Tom Fairless]
  • Congress used to rule DC as its personal fiefdom. Jason Chaffetz wants to move in that direction once again. [Washington Post / Aaron Davis and Peter Jamison]
  • Republican state legislators want to move toward allocating electoral votes by congressional district. if every state did that, Hillary Clinton would've had to win the popular vote by 5 points to get elected. [FiveThirtyEight / Harry Enten]
  • How Muslim Trump supporters are reacting to the refugee ban. [Mic / Sarah Harvard]
  • The best growing-up songs, listed by age of song protagonist. [A.V. Club]

Verbatim

  • "Scientific racism proved to be the issue that forced Heidegger to distance himself from the Nazis — not because it was racist, but because it was scientific." [London Review of Books / Malcolm Bull]
  • "Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go." [David Brat via Richmond Times-Dispatch / Patrick Wilson]
  • "There are no statewide Republicans in Minnesota. Not any, not one. … Why can't a Norm Coleman or a Tim Pawlenty get back into statewide office? Because in the Fifth Congressional District, we spike the vote so high they cannot get in." [Keith Ellison to Vox / Ezra Klein]
  • "Over the past few years, Berry says, he’s induced scammers to write out entire novels by hand, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy and most of the Harry Potter series … and had them listen over the phone as Berry — who was supposedly just about to deliver that much-promised, many-times-delayed money transfer — faked his own death; and, mercilessly, made one of the scammers fall in love with Berry in his online guise as the actress Gillian Anderson." [The Atlantic / Ron Rosenbaum]
  • "The form of automation would certainly have a massive impact on editors, who laboriously slice and dice hundreds of hours of footage to create the best 'cut' of a film or TV show. What if A.I. could do that by analyzing hundreds of thousands of hours of award-winning footage? An A.I. bot could create 50 different cuts of a film and stream them to consumers, analyzing where viewers grow bored or excited, and change the edits in real time, almost like A/B testing two versions of a Web page to see which one performs better." [Vanity Fair / Nick Bilton]

Watch this: A beginner’s guide to hijabs

Muslim American women answer basic questions about the head covering — like whether you wear one during sex. [YouTube / Joshua Seftel]