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Senator Statements

 

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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."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee Correcting the Record
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/03/13
"Before the Senate went into recess, I was disappointed with statements made to the Senate that misstated the history of Judge Srinivasan’s confirmation process. The Senator who said that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee made “no effort, no effort” to have a hearing on Judge Srinivasan until late last year was misinformed. We made efforts in the fall before the election to schedule such a hearing and renewed our push to have a hearing on his nomination before the end of the session. I was accommodating Republican objections by not scheduling a hearing before the end of last year. ... Republicans were then in the process of filibustering a nominee to the Ninth Circuit from Arizona who was recommended by Jon Kyl of Arizona, a Republican Senator and member of their Senate leadership. Republicans were dragging out confirmations of judicial nominees who had been nominated in the fall of 2011 and the early months of 2012. They even filibustered a Tenth Circuit nominee from Oklahoma who had been supported by the Republican Senators from Oklahoma in what was the first filibuster of a circuit court nominee reported with bipartisan support by the Judiciary Committee. They filibustered a First Circuit nominee from Maine supported by the Republican Senators from Maine. In addition, Republicans had filibustered the earlier nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the D.C. Circuit. Anyone who needs to refresh their recollection of those months should reread my statements on judicial nominations from June 6, June 11, June 12, June 18, June 26, July 10, July 16, July 23, July 30, August 2, September 10, September 20, November 30, December 3, December 6, December 11, December 13, and December 17."

Sen. Hatch: My view: Why I voted 'present' instead of 'no'
(Republican - Utah) 03/26/13
"The Senate cannot vote on confirmation, which requires a simple majority, until it ends debate by a cloture vote, which requires a super majority of 60. Failure to reach that threshold is a filibuster. ... judicial filibusters should not be part of the confirmation process.... Three times, I have voted "present" on a motion to end debate on a particularly controversial nominee. By doing so, I neither endorsed judicial filibusters nor helped advance nominees who I believe are unqualified for the federal bench."

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."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Rosenbaum Nomination And Calls To The GOP Leadership To End Obstruction
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/26/12
"The American people need to understand that Senate Republicans are stalling and filibustering judicial nominees supported by their home state Republican Senators. Just two weeks ago we needed to overcome a filibuster to confirm Justice Andrew Hurwitz of the Arizona Supreme Court to the Ninth Circuit despite the strong support of Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain. This year started with the Majority Leader having to file cloture to get an up-or-down vote on Judge Adalberto Jordan of Florida to the Eleventh Circuit even though he was strongly supported by his Republican home state Senator. And every single one of these circuit nominees for whom the Majority Leader was forced to file cloture this year was rated unanimously well qualified by the nonpartisan ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the highest possible rating. And every one of them was nominated to fill a judicial emergency vacancy. ... In the past five presidential election years, Senate Democrats have never denied an up-or-down vote to any circuit court nominee of a Republican president who received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee. That is what Senate Republicans are now seeking to do by blocking votes on William Kayatta, Judge Bacharach and Richard Taranto."

Statement Of Senator Leahy On The Lewis Nomination And Obstruction In The Senate
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/18/12
"I was heartened to see that the senior Senator from Maine has said that she will continue to work with the bipartisan Senate leadership in an effort to bring his the Maine nominee to the First Circuit before the Senate for a confirmation vote. I trust that the many Republican Senators who joined Senator Kyl and Senator McCain in opposing the filibuster of Justice Hurwitz will now join to oppose the filibusters of William Kayatta of Maine, Judge Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, Judge Shwartz of New Jersey, and Richard Taranto for the Federal Circuit. I would hope that the Senators from South Carolina, whose state’s nominee we consider today, will aid this effort just as we have worked with them throughout the process to ensure that they were consulted by the President and that they consented to proceeding with this nominee from their home state. I hope that they will show that courtesy to other Senators."

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. Blumenthal Floor Statement Strongly Supporting Andrew Hurwitz Ninth Circuit Nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 06/14/12
"I have known Justice Hurwitz for literally four decades, so I am exceptionally familiar with his professional and personal background and am certain that he will be an outstanding addition to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals."

SEN. KYL STATEMENT ON SENATE CONFIRMATION OF ANDREW HURWITZ TO NINTH CIRCUIT
(Republican - Arizona) 06/12/12
“I am pleased that Andrew Hurwitz has been confirmed by the Senate. As a member of the Arizona Supreme Court for nearly a decade, Justice Hurwitz has proved an able jurist. While I understand the concern expressed by some of my colleagues, I believe it is misplaced. To my knowledge, he has never allowed his personal views to improperly influence judicial decisions. His record gives me confidence that he will continue to judge cases strictly on their merits.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Nomination Of Jeffrey Helmick
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/06/12
"That delay is being demonstrated again with respect to the nominations of Justice Hurwitz to the Ninth Circuit, Judge Shwartz to the Third Circuit, Richard Taranto to the Federal Circuit, and William Kayatta to the First Circuit. These are not controversial or ideologically driven nominees. Justice Hurwitz is strongly supported by Senator Kyl and Senator McCain; William Kayatta is strongly supported by Senator Snowe and Senator Collins. Another point made by the Congressional Research Service is that fewer circuit court nominees have been confirmed than were confirmed during the first terms of any of President Obama’s four predecessors—President Reagan, President Geroge H.W. Bush, President Clinton, or President George W. Bush."

Sen. Leahy Statement On Obstruction, Vacancies, Nominations & Judge Hillman
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/04/12
"we have passed over consideration of four other nominees who are all listed on the Executive Calendar ahead of Judge Hillman. Those nominees – Andrew Hurwitz for the Ninth Circuit, Jeffrey Helmick for the Northern District of Ohio, Patty Shwartz for the Third Circuit, and Mary Lewis for the District of South Carolina – are all extremely well qualified, have the support of their home state Senators, were reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee, and deserve an up-or-down vote ... we need to agree to vote on the 15 other judicial nominees stalled on the Executive Calendar because there are still far too many vacancies ... The recently released CRS Report also notes that in five of the last eight presidential election years, the Senate has confirmed at least 22 nominees after May 31. Because of how far we are lagging from President Bush’s record of confirmations, we should be working to exceed those numbers."

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."

GOP HOME-STATE SENATOR STATEMENTS FOR OBAMA JUDICIAL NOMINEES (2011-12)
(Republican - Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah) 05/11/12
UPDATED THROUGH MAY 11, 2012

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 Supports Andrew hurwitz 9th Circuit Nomination in Senate Judiciary Committee
(Democrat - California) 03/01/12
"Sen. Diane Feinstein said she didn’t think there is a more qualified person for the Ninth Circuit anywhere. “I wish we could get away from this search to find one thing, in this case, a clerk who wrote something for his judge,” Feinstein said."

Sen. Kyl Supports Andrew Hurwitz 9th Circuit Nomination in Senate Judiciary Committe
(Republican - Arizona) 03/01/12
Kyl defended the nominee, saying Hurwitz did not express his own personal views about the Supreme Court’s abortion decision in the article but correctly characterized the history of the decision. But if Hurwitz did agree with the opinion, Kyl said, “So what?” as long as he follows the law. “Not once has an opinion that Justice Hurwitz wrote or joined in been overturned by a higher court. Not once has he made any decision on a case involving the question of life or choice or anything related to it,” Kyl said at that meeting. “I think it’s a good example of a person who probably has some views personally that are different from mine, but whose opinions obviously carefully adhere to the law. After all, I think that’s what most of us are looking for in judicial nominations,” Kyl said. ... This is a very, very smart person, well-schooled in the law,” Kyl said."

Sen. Coburn Statement at Committee Meeting before voting for Andrew Hurwitz 9th Circuit Nomination
(Republican - Oklahoma) 03/01/12
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a conservative, complained that the Judiciary Committee needs to operate as it did before the disputes over Bush and Obama nominees became such high-intensity partisan fights. “I think the very issue … is what makes Americans sick of what we’re doing,” Coburn said. “It’s a tit for tat. We’ve got to get beyond that, the problems are too great for our country. What I do know is that presidents are entitled to their nominees.”

Sen. Kyl Before & After Committee Vote for Andrew Hurwitz Nomination
(Republican - Arizona) 03/01/12
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who supported the nomination, said Thursday that the committee’s “overwhelming vote . . . will help to ensure that he (Hurwitz) will come up on the Senate floor in a timely fashion.” Kyl said he wholeheartedly supports Hurwitz’s nomination, pointing out his qualifications, temperament and intelligence, and noting that the judge has the support of Arizonans. “If I believed that Justice Hurwitz had very firm anti-life views and if I believed that he could not differentiate between his own personal views and his responsibilities as a judge and would allow his own personal predilections to seep into his judicial decision-making, then I would not support it,” Kyl said. “But I don’t believe he’d do those two things.” Kyl said fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is not on the Judiciary Committee, also wholeheartedly supports the Hurwitz nomination.

Sen. Leahy Statement at Feb. 29 Judicial Nominations Hearing
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/29/12
"Regrettably today's hearing is another with less than a full slate of nominees. This is true of both of our February hearings because the minority did not review background paperwork of the nominees I wanted to include. With vacancies on Federal courts across the country remaining extremely high, as they have throughout the term of the Obama administration, we cannot afford to slow down our consideration of nominations in this manner. We remain well behind the pace set by the Senate during President Bush's first term. By the end of President Bush's first term, the Senate had confirmed 205 district and circuit nominees. To date now in the fourth year of President Obama's first term, the Senate has confirmed only 129 district and circuit nominees. By this date in 2004, the Senate had confirmed 170 district and circuit nominees. Today the total is more than 40 confirmations shy of the mark."