Editorials and Opinion
President Obama Weekly Address: It’s Time for Republicans in Congress To Do Their Jobs (The White House, 09/17/16)
"The Republicans who run this Congress aren’t doing their jobs.
Well, guess what? Congress recently returned from a seven-week vacation. They’ve only got two weeks left until their next one. But there’s a lot of business they need to get done first.... they have made Merrick Garland, a Supreme Court nominee with more federal judicial experience than any other in history, wait longer than any other in history for the simple courtesy of a hearing, let alone a vote. ... We just need a Congress that works as hard as you do. At the very least, we should expect that they do their jobs – and protect us from disease, help us recover from disaster, keep the Supreme Court above politics, and help our businesses grow and hire."
Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 7/21/2016 (The White House, 07/21/16)
"Well, we’ve reached an unfortunate milestone, as I noted earlier this week, that Chief Judge Garland has now gone longer without a hearing than any other Supreme Court nominee in history that wasn’t later withdrawn. And that’s rather unfortunate when you consider that Chief Judge Garland has another distinction, which is that he is arguably the most experienced Supreme Court nominee in American history. He has served more years on the federal bench than any other individual who’s ever been nominated for the Supreme Court.
When you couple that with the highest possible rating that he received from the nonpartisan ABA and from the clear assessment of Republican senators, including Orrin Hatch, who described him as a unanimous -- or a consensus nominee, I think that’s an indication that he’s not being treated fairly by Republicans. I think it’s a clear indication that Republicans are not doing their job."
Daily Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest (The White House, 07/19/16)
"Leader McConnell, Chairman Grassley, and the Senate Republican caucus are setting records for inaction as they fail to fulfill even their most basic constitutional responsibilities.
Today marks 125 days since President Obama fulfilled his constitutional responsibility and nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to serve on the United States Supreme Court. ... the President lent his support to an idea that his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, also supported -- namely, that the Senate should commit to giving qualified Supreme Court nominees a hearing and a vote within an established time frame."
Statement from White House Counsel Neil Eggleston on the ABA’s Evaluation of Chief Judge Merrick Garland (The White House, 06/21/16)
"Today, the American Bar Association gave its highest possible rating to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, assessing him as unanimously well-qualified and affirming he has the experience and character to serve on the United States Supreme Court. ... The President nominated Chief Judge Garland 97 days ago - and given that the average time from nomination to confirmation is 67 days, there is no question that the Senate has abdicated its responsibility under the U.S. Constitution. Filling a vacancy on the Supreme Court is a solemn responsibility that the President and the Senate share under the Constitution, and we call on the Senate to do its job and consider Chief Judge Garland's nomination."
President Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Submits His Questionnaire to the Senate (The White House, 05/10/16)
Neil Eggleston, White House Counsel: "We expect that upon receiving the questionnaire, Senate Judiciary Committee members will do their jobs by reviewing his record, noticing a hearing so that the American people can hear directly from Chief Judge Garland as he answers questions under oath, and giving him a timely vote. Every nominee since 1875 who wasn't withdrawn from consideration has received a hearing and/or a vote. With more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history and a long record of public service, we expect the Senate will give Chief Judge Garland the same fair consideration as prior nominees. The American people and the integrity of our judicial system deserve nothing less."
Remarks by the President on the Passing of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (The White House, 02/13/16)
"Obviously, today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy. I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our Founders envisioned."
Daily Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 12/17/15 (The White House, 12/17/15)
"Well, we have been quite frustrated about the partisan approach that Republicans in the Senate have taken to stalling the confirmation of highly qualified judicial nominees. In some cases, as you point out, these nominees would be serving in courts that are currently are under a state of emergency because of caseloads that are stacking up based on judicial vacancies.... But that process has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate not because they have legitimate questions about the qualifications of the individuals who are nominated, but rather because of their partisan opposition to the President of the United States being able to do almost anything.
And they’re certainly entitled to a point of view that is different than the President of the United States, but it certainly doesn’t make sense, and certainly isn't consistent with the expectations of the American people for them to use their authority to somehow punish the President by slowing down the justice system.
So we continue to urge Republicans in the Senate to do the right thing for the country when it comes to carefully considering and, in a timely fashion, confirming legitimately qualified and experienced nominees for the job."
Judicial Nominations: Accomplishments and the Work That Lies Ahead (The White House, 12/17/14)
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston: "When President Obama took office, there were 55 vacancies in the federal judiciary. With the Senate’s recent confirmations, we have reached a milestone—fewer vacancies than when we began. Today, there are only 42 judicial vacancies, for a decrease of 25%. But by way of comparison, at this point in their administrations, President George W. Bush had decreased vacancies by almost 40%, and President Clinton had cut them in half. Furthermore, Chief Justice John Roberts and the Judicial Conference of the United States have recommended that Congress create 90 new permanent and temporary judgeships to address increasing caseloads across the country. Finally, President Obama’s judges have waited, on average, almost two-and-a-half times longer to be confirmed after being reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee than President Bush’s judges did at this point his administration—even though the vast majority of our judges are confirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support."
Remarks by the President at Pride Month Celebration (The White House, 06/30/14)
President Obama: "We also have three judges that I was proud to name to the federal bench: Todd Hughes, Judy Levy, and Nitza Quinones Alejandro. Give them a big round of applause. Before I took office, we had only one openly gay federal judge to be confirmed by the Senate. Now, along with Todd, Judy, and Nitza, that number is 11. So we’re making some progress."
A Historic Day for Our Judiciary (The White House, 06/17/14)
Neil Eggleston, Counsel to the President: "Today’s confirmations also set historic milestones:
• For the first time in history, the Senate has confirmed two openly gay judges on the same day.
• President Obama has now appointed more female judges than any other President, breaking the record previously set by President Clinton.
• President Obama also has now appointed more Hispanic judges than any other President, breaking the record previously held by President George W. Bush.
As we’ve said before, these “firsts” — and these milestones — are important, not because these judges will consider cases differently, but because a judiciary that better resembles our nation instills even greater confidence in our justice system, and because these judges will serve as role models for generations of lawyers to come."
Remarks by the President at a DNC LGBT Gala (The White House, 06/17/14)
"And today, the Senate confirmed two openly gay judges in the same day. Before I took office, only one openly gay judge had been confirmed in history. We have 10 more."
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on First Circuit Nominee David Barron (The White House, 05/06/14)
"David Barron is an exceptionally qualified judicial nominee....last year, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee had access to the memo. And in his committee vote, Mr. Barron received unanimous Democratic support. We are confident that David Barron will be confirmed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and that he will serve with distinction."
Statement by the President on the Confirmation of Robert Wilkins (The White House, 01/13/14)
"I am pleased that the Senate has confirmed Judge Robert Wilkins to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Judge Wilkins spent a decade as a public defender, providing legal representation to individuals who could not afford an attorney, as well as eight years in private practice. His accomplishments outside the courtroom include helping to establish the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2010, I nominated Judge Wilkins to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and since being confirmed without opposition by the Senate to that position, he has applied the law with the utmost impartiality and integrity. I am confident that he will continue to do so on the D.C. Circuit. Judge Wilkins is the fourth of my nominees to be confirmed to this important court, which now has a full bench to render justice fairly and swiftly."
Statement by the President on the Confirmation of Nina Pillard (The White House, 12/12/13)
"I thank the Senate for confirming Nina Pillard to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which for the first time, will have five active female judges on the bench. Throughout her career, Ms. Pillard has displayed an unwavering commitment to justice and integrity. Her landmark accomplishments on behalf of women and families include Supreme Court cases defending the constitutionality of the Family and Medical Leave Act and opening the doors of the Virginia Military Institute to female students. I’m confident she will be a diligent, thoughtful and judicious addition to the D.C. Circuit."
Statement by the President on the Confirmation of Patricia Millett (The White House, 12/10/13)
"I’m pleased that in a bipartisan vote, the Senate has confirmed Patricia Millett to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, filling a vacancy that has been open since 2005. Ms. Millett is a leading appellate lawyer who has made 32 arguments before the Supreme Court, the second-most by a female advocate. She has served in the Department of Justice for both Democratic and Republican Presidents. I’m confident she will serve with distinction on the federal bench."
Here's Why Today's Filibuster Rule Change is a Big Deal: (The White House, 11/21/13)
White House blog by Lindsay Holst: "half of all filibusters waged against nominations in our country's history have been waged under President Obama. And of the 23 district court nominees that have been filibustered in U.S. History, 20 of them have been Obama nominees."
Statement by the President (The White House, 11/21/13)
"And here's why this is important: One of a President's constitutional responsibilities is to nominate Americans to positions within the executive and judicial branches. Over the six decades before I took office, only 20 presidential nominees to executive positions had to overcome filibusters. In just under five years since I took office, nearly 30 nominees have been treated this way. ... And this obstruction gets even worse when it comes to the judiciary. The Constitution charges the President with filling vacancies to the federal bench. Every President has exercised this power since George Washington first named justices to the Supreme Court in 1789. But my judicial nominees have waited nearly two and a half times longer to receive yes or no votes on the Senate floor than those of President Bush. And the ones who eventually do get a vote generally are confirmed with little, if any, dissent. So this isn't obstruction on substance, on qualifications. It's just to gum up the works. And this gridlock in Congress causes gridlock in much of our criminal and civil justice systems. You've seen judges across the country, including a Bush-appointed Chief Justice to the Supreme Court, say these are vital vacancies that need to be filled, and this gridlock has not served the cause of justice; in fact, it's undermined it. Over the past three weeks, Senate Republicans again denied a yes or no vote on three highly qualified Americans to fill three vacancies on the nation's second-highest court, even though they have the support of a majority of senators. Four of President Bush's six nominees to this court were confirmed. Four out of five of my nominees to this court have been obstructed."
What would President Truman say about this Congress? (The White House, 11/19/13)
Deputy Senior Advisor David Simas: "the 113th Congress' obstruction is reaching new levels.... Things the 113th Congress could vote on right now. ... Confirm three well-qualified judges to fill long-standing vacancies on the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Cornelia Pillard, Robert Wilkins and Patricia Millett were all selected by the President as nominees for this critical court. Once again, one by one, Senate Republicans blocked each nomination. ...It’s time for this obstruction to come to an end, and for Republicans in Congress to start doing their jobs:"
Statement by the President (The White House, 11/18/13)
"I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans have once again refused to do their job and give well-qualified nominees to the federal bench the yes-or-no votes they deserve. The D.C. Circuit, considered the Nation’s second-highest court, has three vacancies. These are judgeships created by Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts and the Judicial Conference of the United States believe that these vacancies should be filled, not removed. And my constitutional duty as President is to nominate highly qualified individuals to fill these vacancies.
Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Judge Robert Wilkins have all received the highest possible rating from the non-partisan American Bar Association. They have broad bipartisan support, and no one has questioned their merit. Yet Senate Republicans have blocked all three from receiving a yes-or-no vote. This obstruction is completely unprecedented. Four of my predecessor’s six nominees to the D.C. Circuit were confirmed. Four of my five nominees to this court have been obstructed. When it comes to judicial nominations, I am fulfilling my constitutional responsibility, but Congress is not. Instead, Senate Republicans are standing in the way of a fully-functioning judiciary that serves the American people. The American people and our judicial system deserve better. A majority of the United States Senate supports these three extraordinary nominees, and it is time for simple yes-or-no votes without further obstruction or delay."
Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, 11/18/2013 (The White House, 11/18/13)
"[T]oday it is expected the Senate will have a cloture vote on Judge Robert Wilkins, the third of the President’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court. Less than three years ago, the Senate confirmed Judge Wilkins to the D.C. District Court without opposition. Every senator agreed he has the intellect, integrity and fair-mindedness to serve as a federal judge, and his record since then has validated his unanimous confirmation. Yet, Senate Republicans continue their cynical obstruction. Their proposed legislation would remove three judgeships from the D.C. Circuit even though Chief Justice Roberts has not recommended removing any. It also would give a judgeship to two courts that Chief Justice Roberts has said do not need anymore. It’s time to stop playing partisan politics with the federal courts. We urge Senate Republicans to stop blocking a simple up-or-down vote. If the Senate were allowed to consider Judge Wilkins and all of the President’s nominees on their merits, I am confident they would be confirmed without delay."
President Obama discusses filibusters of D.C. Circuit nominees (The White House, 11/18/13)
“It is not the way our Constitution was designed, it’s not what advise and consent was supposed to be, but that’s what’s happened,” Obama said. Obama intimated that his supporters should stay tuned for the looming Senate battle over the filibuster. “I’m going to be calling for Senate Republicans to allow a simple up-or-down vote without further obstruction or delay,” he said. “This is an issue that may end up getting more attention in the coming days and weeks.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says blocking DC circuit nominees is "shocking." (The White House, 11/13/13)
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney expressed frustration with continued Republican efforts to block Presidential nominees to the DC court of appeals at a press conference today. “The obstruction and opposition we have seen in the senate to highly qualified nominees to this court is highly regrettable,” he said in response to a question posed by TRNS’ Victoria Jones. “It’s shocking really when you think about the nominees that have been blocked through filibuster. How qualified they are and how rightfully they ought to be able to sit on that court because the President of the United States has nominated them.” His remarks come after the nomination of Nina Pillard was blocked by a filibuster on Tuesday. Pillard was the fourth District Court nominee to be filibustered in the last year. Carney went on to say that Republican claims that the court does not need new judges because of a small caseload is not a viable excuse to filibuster Presidential nominees. “The reasons thrown out for that opposition are insincere at best and laughable, in general,” he said. “To cite caseload in an effort, obviously, to prevent the duly elected President of the United States from appointing his nominees to this court, well, I don’t think anybody takes it seriously.”
Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, 11/12/2013 (The White House, 11/12/13)
"I wanted to note that at 5:30 p.m. today the Senate will have a cloture vote on Nina Pillard, another of the President's three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court. Pillard is an accomplished litigator and professor. Her career includes landmark accomplishments on behalf of women and families, such as helping defend the constitutionality of the Family and Medical Leave Act and helping open the doors of the Virginia Military Institute to female students. It is time for Senate Republicans to stop playing politics with our courts. Fifteen of the last nineteen judges confirmed to this court were nominated by Republican Presidents -- 15 of the last 19. But now that a Democratic President is fulfilling his constitutional duty and nominating judges, Republicans make cynical arguments in an effort to maintain an ideological edge. More of President Obama's nominees to the D.C. Circuit have been successfully filibustered than those of any other President in history. We urge the Senate to consider all of these nominations on their merits, starting with tonight's cloture vote for Nina Pillard."
Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, 11/13/2013 (The White House, 11/12/13)
"The opposition and obstruction that we've seen in the Senate to highly qualified nominees to this court is highly regrettable. The reasons thrown up for that opposition are insincere at best and laughable in general. This is the same court which had a smaller workload to which Republicans gladly voted for President George W. Bush's nominees.... it is shocking, really, when you think about the nominees that have been blocked through filibuster, how qualified they are and how rightfully they ought to be able to sit on that court, because the President of the United States has nominated them.
I noted -- I don't know if others saw -- there was an amazing piece about the last nominee, Ms. Millett, who was filibustered from a military reservist who was represented by her in a discrimination suit against his employer who discriminated against him because of his service as a reservist and his deployment. And she is a military spouse, and she took up that case and she won in the Supreme Court. And that's the kind of representation that ought to be on that court. And we will continue to fight for the President's highly qualified nominees to be confirmed by the Senate as the Constitution prescribes."
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 10/31/2013 (The White House, 10/31/13)
"Well, at this point, we would simply like to see our nominees confirmed -- our highly qualified nominees confirmed. ... But this is, as we've talked about -- are we talking about Patricia Millett, extremely extraordinarily qualified nominee for this court? The arguments about caseloads are just astoundingly hypocritical. ... we really hope that there's an opportunity for these nominees to move forward. And we'll work with the Senate and, most especially, the Senate leader on that and we will have, obviously, discussions with him about how to move forward."