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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Cantwell, Senate Democrats: No Vote on Garland Nomination, No Recess
(Democrat - Washington) 09/27/16
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 40 other Democratic Senators in calling for a hearing and a vote on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland before adjourning for another Republican-scheduled recess.

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Jennifer Dorsey and other Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/09/13
"In addition to the 33 renominations at the start of this year, President Obama has nominated another 28 individuals to be circuit and district judges this year, and has now had more nominees at this point in his presidency than his predecessor did at the same point. Senate Republicans are nonetheless criticizing President Obama for making too few nominations while protesting that the fact that many vacancies do not have nominees cannot possibly be the fault of Senate Republicans. These Senators are saying that they have no role in the process. Of course, only a few years ago, before President Obama had made a single judicial nomination, all Senate Republicans sent him a letter threatening to filibuster his nominees if he did not consult Republican home State Senators. They cannot have it both ways."

Sen. Leahy Congressional Record Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/21/12
"Senate Republicans have chosen to depart dramatically from Senate traditions in their efforts to delay and obstruct President Obama's judicial nominations. For example, until 2009, Senators deferred to the President and to home State Senators on district court nominees. During the 8 years that George W. Bush served as President, only 5 of his district court nominees received any opposition on the floor. In just 4 years, Senate Republicans have voted against 39 of President Obama's district court nominees, and the Majority Leader has been forced to file cloture on 20 of them. ... When Senate Democrats filibustered President Bush's controversial circuit court nominees, it was over substantive concerns about the nominees' records and Republicans' disregard for the rights of Democratic Senators. When we opposed Janice Rogers Brown, it was because of her long record on the California Supreme Court of deciding cases based on extreme views, and having argued that Social Security was unconstitutional. When we opposed Priscilla Owen, it was because her rulings on the Texas Supreme Court were so extreme that they drew the condemnation of even the conservative judges on that court. On the other hand, Senate Republicans have filibustered and delayed nearly all of President Obama's circuit court nominees even when those nominees have the support of their Republican home State Senators. Take the examples of Judge Robert Bacharach and William Kayatta, two consensus circuit nominees who have the support of their Republican home State Senators. ... neither of these nominees faces any real Republican opposition. ... After today's vote, there will still be 11 judicial nominees on the Senate Executive Calendar, 6 of whom were voted out of the Judiciary Committee before the August recess. There is no reason why we cannot confirm all of them today. I have also been urging Republicans to expedite consideration of the 4 judicial nominees who participated in hearings last Wednesday. That would lead to 11 more confirmations before the Senate adjourns to help address the judicial vacancies that currently exist in our Federal courts."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement with Comprehensive Overview & Update on Obstruction of President Obama's Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/23/12
"There is no good reason that the Senate should not vote on consensus nominees like Judge Shipp and more than a dozen other consensus judicial nominees to fill Federal trial court vacancies in Iowa, California, Utah, Connecticut, Maryland, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. There is no good reason the Senate should not vote on the nominations of William Kayatta of Maine to the First Circuit, Judge Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to the Tenth Circuit, Richard Taranto to the Federal Circuit and for that matter Judge Patty Shwartz of New Jersey to the Third Circuit, who is supported by New Jersey's Republican Governor.... Despite vacancies still remaining near or above 80, Senate Republicans continue to obstruct and stall nominees on the Senate floor for no good reason. We could easily have confirmed both Judges Shipp and McNulty together three months ago. It is this type of across-the-board obstruction of judicial nominees by Senate Republicans that has contributed to the judicial vacancy crisis in our Federal courts."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Republican Opposition To Consensus Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/14/12
“This shutdown is consistent with what the partisan Senate Republican leadership did in 1996 and again at the end of President Clinton’s presidency, and can be contrasted with how Democrats acted in 1992, 2004 and 2008. This is really a challenge to the Senators who have said that they will not support these filibusters and this kind of shutdown, and to those Republican Senators who support the circuit court nominees from Maine and Oklahoma. They should reject this obstruction, just as the Senate rejected the filibusters of Judges Paul Watford and Andrew Hurwitz. It is hard to see how this new 'Thurmond Rule' shutdown is anything more than another name for the stalling tactics we have seen for months and years. I have yet to hear any good reason why we should not continue to vote on well-qualified, consensus nominees, just as we did up until September of the last two presidential election years. I have yet to hear a good explanation as to why we cannot work to solve the problem of high vacancies for the American people. I will continue to work with the Senate leadership to try to confirm as many of President Obama’s qualified judicial nominees as possible to fill the many judicial vacancies that burden our courts and the American people across the country.”

Sen. Boxer Praises Senate Confirmation of L.A. Attorney Paul Watford for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; Former Federal Prosecutor Has Been Praised by Legal Experts From Across the Political Spectrum
(Democrat - California) 05/21/12
“It is great news that the Senate has confirmed Paul Watford, an exceptionally talented attorney, to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has a breadth of experience as a former prosecutor and a top appellate litigator and will make an excellent addition to the federal bench. However, I am very disappointed that more of my Republican colleagues did not join us in backing this highly qualified nominee.”

Sen. Feinstein Announces Confirmation of Judge Paul Watford to 9th Circuit
(Democrat - California) 05/21/12
“Paul Watford’s combination of experience as a federal prosecutor and as an appellate attorney in private practice makes him an excellent choice for the 9th Circuit,” said Senator Feinstein. “He is extremely bright and highly respected for his intellect and judgment. He has broad support across the political spectrum, and I am very pleased he was confirmed today to the 9th Circuit, which is the busiest circuit in the nation.”

Sen. Levin: Senate Floor Speech on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Michigan) 05/15/12
"The Judiciary Committee has favorably reported 17 judicial nominations that are now awaiting votes on the floor of the Senate. There is no question that the wait for many of President Obama’s judicial nominees has been unacceptable. ... Yet the vast majority of those nominees are not controversial and enjoy bipartisan support. We should move quickly to confirm those nominees who have bipartisan backing, and to review, debate and act, as expeditiously as possible, on the small number of nominations about which there is some debate.... I simply ask all of my colleagues to consider on each of these nominations the damage done by delay and inaction, and to carefully consider the threat to justice from the growing crisis of delay in our courts. We can and should act promptly on the 17 nominees on the calendar."

Sen. Leahy May 14 Floor Statement on Ninth Circuit Nominees, Senate Delays, Vacancies and Emergencies
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/14/12
"We reduced vacancies on the Ninth Circuit during President Bush's two terms to only a single vacancy. Four of President Bush's Ninth Circuit nominees were confirmed during his first 4-year term ... By contrast, Senate Republicans are opposing our moving forward to consider and confirm Paul Watford and Andrew Hurwitz, who are both strongly supported by their home State Senators, to fill judicial emergency vacancies, and they filibustered the nomination of Goodwin Liu, who also had the strong support of his home State Senators. ... In May 2004, we reduced judicial vacancies to below 50 on the way to 28 that August. Despite 2004 being an election year, we were able to reduce vacancies to the lowest level in the last 20 years. ... In October 2008, another Presidential election year, we again worked to reduce judicial vacancies and were able to get back down to 34 vacancies. ... By comparison, the vacancy rate remains nearly twice what it was at this point in the first term of President Bush, and has remained near or above 80 for nearly three years."

Sen. Feinstein Floor Statement on 9th Circuit nominees Jacqueline Nguyen and Paul Watford
(Democrat - California) 05/07/12
"Judge Nguyen’s confirmation today will help ease the burden, but it will not do enough. Paul Watford is another outstanding Ninth Circuit nominee from California. He was approved by the Judiciary Committee 3 months ago. Based on the calendar, he should be the next circuit court nominee to receive a confirmation vote in this body. He has sterling qualifications. He has worked as a Federal prosecutor and an appellate attorney at a prestigious law firm. He clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He is a moderate nominee, well schooled in the law. He has support on both sides of the aisle, including from two former presidents of the Los Angeles chapter of the Federalist Society. So I hope the Senate will consider Mr. Watford’s nomination very soon. It is a judicial emergency.

Sen. Feinstein Announces Confirmation of Judge Jacqueline Nguyen; First Asian-American female to serve as a federal appellate judge
(Democrat - California) 05/07/12
“Judge Nguyen is an outstanding jurist with a 10-year track record of success as a trial judge in my state,” said Senator Feinstein. “Presiding over thousands of cases, including 75 jury trials and 12 bench trials, she prizes fairness and integrity, and treats all parties fairly and with respect. She will make an outstanding addition to the Ninth Circuit.” “The Ninth Circuit is the busiest federal appellate court in the country. I very much hope the Senate soon takes up the nomination of Paul Watford, an excellent nominee to the Ninth Circuit from California. Mr. Watford is eminently qualified, has strong support on both sides of the aisle, and should be confirmed soon.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Nomination of Judge Brian Wimes of Missouri
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/23/12
"We will conclude the first four months of this year having only considered judicial nominees who should have been confirmed before recessing last December. We have yet to get to any of the nominees we should be considering this year because of Republican objections to proceeding more promptly. ... The Senate is 33 confirmations of circuit and district court judges behind the number at this point in President Bush’s fourth year in office.... the Federal judiciary has been forced to operate with the heavy burden of 80 or more judicial vacancies for nearly three years now. There are 22 judicial nominees on the Senate Executive Calendar ready for final consideration ... Paul Watford of California and Justice Andrew Hurwitz of Arizona were both voted favorably from the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year. There is no good reason for delay. ... of the current vacancies without a nomination, 28 involve Republican home state Senators.... There are also an additional seven nominations on which the Senate Judiciary Committee cannot proceed because Republican Senators are withholding support."

Sen. Leahy: Thacker Confirmed To Fourth Circuit; Nominee Is Just Second Circuit Nomination Confirmed This Year
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/16/12
"Her consideration has been delayed more than five months and will not occur until May 7. But there are two more Ninth Circuit nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies who are before the Senate awaiting final consideration. Paul Watford of California was reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee in early February. His nomination should be scheduled for a confirmation vote without further delay. Justice Andrew Hurwitz of Arizona was reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee in early March. His nomination should also be scheduled for a confirmation vote. There is no good reason for delay. The 61 million people served by the Ninth Circuit are not served by this delay. The Circuit is being forced to handle double the caseload of any other without its full complement of judges. The Senate should be expediting consideration of the nominations of Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, Paul Watford, and Justice Andrew Hurwitz, not delaying them."

Sen. Feinstein: Video & Transcript of Floor Statement on Need to Confirm Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - California) 02/28/12
"Today, partisanship has stalled even the most uncontroversial judicial appointments. Senate Republicans allowed no nominees to be confirmed at the end of the last session, and have allowed but five so far this year. In this environment, even those reported out of committee by voice vote, without any controversy, are unable to receive a floor vote for many months, if they ever receive one at all. There are now 19 pending nominees who have been approved by the Judiciary Committee who are waiting for a simple up-or-down vote from the Senate. Seventeen were approved by the Judiciary Committee with very strong bipartisan support: 12 without any opposition at all, and 5 with only one no vote. Ten have been waiting for three months or more for a vote from the full Senate. Ten have been nominated to fill vacancies classified as judicial emergencies. Fourteen of the 19 are women or people of color, and one is an openly gay man. It is long past time to allow the Senate to vote on their confirmations. ... Paul Watford should be confirmed quickly to the Ninth Circuit. He is eminently qualified. He clerked for conservative Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He served as a Federal prosecutor, and he has been a distinguished practitioner of appellate law in California for many years. He is uncontroversial. He has been endorsed by the former president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federalist Society by conservative law professor Eugene Volokh and by the general counsels of several major corporations that he has represented in appellate cases."

Sen. Leahy Urges Senate Action On Long-Delayed Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/28/12
"19 judicial nominations are pending on the Senate floor. Fourteen of the nominations were reported to the full Senate by the Judiciary Committee in 2011, including a dozen nominations that received unanimous support from the 18 members of the Judiciary Committee."

Sen. Leahy: After More Than Five Months Of Delay, Senate Confirms NY District Court Nominee: Majority Of Judiciary Committee Republicans Flip Votes On Nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/17/12
"The Judiciary Committee reported the nomination to the full Senate by a unanimous voice vote on September 15. No Senator spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the nomination; yet more than half of the Republicans who serve on the Judiciary Committee abandoned their Committee vote on the nomination and opposed its confirmation on the Senate floor."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/09/12
"There is no reason or explanation for why Senate Republicans continue to block a vote on the nomination of Jesse Furman to fill a vacancy on the Southern District of New York. His nomination was voted out of the Judiciary Committee on September 15, nearly five months ago, without opposition from a single member of the Committee and a month before the nomination being considered today. Mr. Furman, an experienced Federal prosecutor who served as Counselor to Attorney General Michael Mukasey for two years during the Bush administration, is a nominee with an impressive background and bipartisan support. We should have voted on his nomination many months ago, and certainly before the end of the last session. Senate Republicans have now skipped over that nomination and stalled it for almost five months."

Statement Of Senator Leahy On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/07/12
"Every one of the 19 judicial nominations awaiting final Senate action has the support of his or her home state Senators, Republican as well as Democratic. There is no excuse for continued stalling of President Obama’s consensus judicial nominees. The courts and the country cannot afford another year of across-the-board delays of President Obama’s judicial nominations. I urge votes on Jesse Furman for the Southern District of New York, Cathy Bencivengo for the Southern District of California, Gina Groh for the Northern District of West Virginia, Margo Brodie for the Southern District of New York, Adalberto Jordan for the Eleventh Circuit, Beth Phillips for the Western District of Missouri, Thomas Rice for the Eastern District of Washington, David Nuffer for the District of Utah, Stephanie Thacker for the Fourth Circuit, Michael Fitzgerald for the Central District of California, Ronnie Abrams for the Southern District of New York, Rudolph Contreras for the District of Washington DC, Susie Morgan for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jacqueline Nguyen for the Ninth Circuit, Gregg Costa for the Southern District of Texas, David Guaderrama for the Western District of Texas, and Brian Wimes for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri."

Sen. Leahy Statement on Nominees to Fill 9th Circuit Judicial Emergency Vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/02/12
"The Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, Judge Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee, along with the members of the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit, have written to the Senate emphasizing the Ninth Circuit's "desperate need for judges," urging the Senate to "act on judicial nominees without delay," and concluding that "we fear that the public will suffer unless our vacancies are filled very promptly." The Committee and the Senate should be working to address this serious problem by moving forward to consider not only Mr. Watford's nomination, but also two other nominations to fill judicial emergency vacancies on the Ninth Circuit that are pending before the Senate. There is no reason to further delay a Senate vote on the nomination of Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of California to fill the judicial emergency vacancy that remains open after the Republican filibuster of Goodwin Liu. We reported her nomination unanimously two months ago. She should have been confirmed last year but Senate Republicans refused to proceed. I also hope we can move quickly to consider the nomination of Justice Andrew Hurwitz of Arizona. He was nominated three months ago and we were finally able to include him at a hearing last week. I hope that with Senator Kyl's support, we can move expeditiously on that nomination, as well. ... Mr. Watford's nomination has support from across the political spectrum. Daniel Collins, a partner at Munger Tolles who clerked for Justice Scalia and who served in the Bush administration as Associate Deputy Attorney General, has said that Paul Watford is "incredibly intelligent and has solid integrity and great judgment." Conservative law professor Orin Kerr called him "extremely bright, a moderate, and very much a "lawyer's lawyer,'" concluding in his online post, "I hope he will be confirmed." Recently we received a letter from the former president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federalist Society ... we also received a letter of strong support from conservative law professor Eugene Volokh. Professor Volokh"

Sen. Feinstein Statement Supporting Paul Watford Ninth Circuit Nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/02/12
“He’s received praise across the legal spectrum. At this time, I’d like to enter into the record a letter from Jeremy Rosen, the former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Federalist Society, Eugene Volokh, a conservative law professor at UCLA, and the general counsels of Verizon, Mattel, Google, and CIRCOR International. “I would also like to note that the Ninth Circuit is in serious need of new judges. It has 1,453 cases per three-judge panel. That’s by far the highest in the nation, and more than 400 more than the next highest court. Each of the court’s vacancies is a judicial emergency. Mr. Watford is well qualified. He’s a consensus pick. And I am very hopeful that not only can he be voted out today but we’ll have a chance to take a vote on the floor before the end of the year.” [Sen. Feinstein, testimony before the Judiciary Committee’s vote to approve Watford’s nomination, about 34:00 into the video].

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On the Nomination of Morgan Christen to the Ninth Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/15/11
"Justice Christen is the kind of qualified, consensus nominee who in past years would have been considered and confirmed by the Senate within days of being reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee, not stuck for months unnecessarily on the Senate calendar. ... The judicial emergency vacancies on the Ninth Circuit are harming litigants by creating unnecessary and costly delays. ... If caseloads were really a concern, Senate Republicans would consent to move forward to confirm Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of California, another well-qualified nominee to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the Ninth Circuit. ... The Senate should act to address the continuing crisis in judicial vacancies that affects not only the Ninth Circuit, but Federal courts around the country. ... There is no time to further delay votes on the other 20 judicial nominations now pending on the Senate calendar and awaiting a final vote. Sixteen of these nominations, in addition to that of Justice Christen, were reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee.... We should not repeat the mistakes of last year, when the Senate Republican leadership held back its consent at the end of the year to consideration of 19 judicial nominations that had been reported by the Judiciary Committee and were ready for final Senate action. That was an abusive exercise in unnecessary delay that I believe was without precedent with respect to such consensus nominees. ... Before we adjourn this year, there is no reason the Senate cannot at least consider the other 16 judicial nominees reported unanimously by the Committee this session, who are by any measure consensus nominees. I hope that we do not see a repeat of the damaging decision by Senate Republican leadership at the end of last year to refuse to agree to votes on those nominations."