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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. McCain on Filibuster Rule Change for Nominations
(Republican - Arizona) 12/09/14
The GOP was outraged last year after Reid and Democrats used a procedural move known as the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change the Senate’s rules to deprive the minority from being able to block most of President Obama’s nominations. “I think it’s rank hypocrisy if we don’t,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said when asked about reversing the rule change. “If we don’t, then disregard every bit of complaint that we made, not only after they did it but also during the campaign,” he added. “I’m stunned that some people want to keep it.” “Do we believe that Republicans will hold the majority in Congress forever? If it poisoned the well as much as it did, how could we possibly be in favor of sustaining it?” McCain said.

UPDATED: Republican Home-State Senators Support Judicial Nominees
(Republican - Utah, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, North Carolina) 12/03/14
Links and excerpts for Republican home-state senator support of judicial nominees during Senate's lame duck session and history of prior lame duck confirmations.

Georgia Senators Floor Statement urging cloture vote on Leigh May district court nomination
(Republican - Georgia) 11/12/14
Sen. Isakson: "on behalf of myself and Senator Chambliss, we ask the Members of the Senate to move favorably on this vote of cloture. We appreciate the consideration of Members and ask for their ``yes'' vote."

Sen. Isakson Floor Statement urging cloture and confirmation votes for district court nominee Leigh May
(Republican - Georgia) 11/12/14
"Her name is Leigh May. She is an unbelievably exciting, unbelievably knowledgeable, unbelievably accomplished individual....She is a very talented, very deserving person. I thank the President for his nomination.... Please vote for the cloture motion today so we can vote for confirmation tomorrow....the dean of the law school came up to me and said: I just want you to know, Mr. Isakson, you nominated one of the smartest people to ever graduate from the law school of the University of Georgia when you nominated Leigh May. I can't think of a higher or a better recommendation, and I commend Leigh May to my colleagues of the Senate with my highest recommendation in the hopes that folks will vote today to go to cloture and vote for the confirmation tomorrow to confirm Leigh May to the Northern District of Georgia."

Sen. Isakson on filibuster rule
(Republican - Georgia) 11/05/14
Last year, Reid invoked the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for many presidential appointments. Rather than expand it, as some have speculated a GOP majority might do, Isakson said he favors reversing it: “I think the 60-vote threshold makes sense.”

Sen. Cornyn on Senate Control and Nominations
(Republican - Texas) 09/28/14
“It obviously gives us additional leverage to determine who the nominees are going to be and negotiate on the front end,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “There’s going to be some more earnest and intense discussions about who those nominees are.” ... “They clearly have no interest in letting Obama populate his administration. If you think that’s bad today, it will be even worse if they have control,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). Cornyn said that when he hears this Democratic allegation, “the little boy who cries wolf comes to mind.”

Sen. McCain on Filibuster Rule and Nominations
(Republican - Arizona) 09/28/14
“I will work very hard to go back to 60 votes,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who boldly predicts a Republican Senate would process Obama’s nominees “more rapidly than [Democrats] do today.”

Sen. Thune on Filibuster Rule and Nominations
(Republican - South Dakota) 09/28/14
“There’s going to be a lot of resentment over the fact that the president jammed through so many appointments when they broke the rules. And there obviously will be people who would think that there ought to be an opportunity for us to get a chance to even that ledger,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader. “Hopefully, we resolve it in a way that preserves the integrity of the institution but also recognizes the fact that because they broke the rules, they were able to jam through a whole bunch of nominees.”

Sen. Hatch on Filibuster Rule and Nominations
(Republican - Utah) 09/28/14
“We should get it back to where it was,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “You can see the destruction that has happened around here.” Hatch and other institutionalists, like McCain, have vocally argued that moving the threshold back to 60 votes would make the Senate function better.... But Republicans don’t deny that confirmation fights would be back in vogue if they win the Senate — and some of the president’s nominees simply won’t get through, regardless of what the GOP decides to do with the Senate rules. “There are some who really don’t deserve to be in those positions,” Hatch said.

Sen. Inhofe on Filibuster Rule and Nominations
(Republican - Oklahoma) 09/28/14
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who stands to gain a plum chairmanship in the majority, said Republicans should determine how many liberal presidential confirmations Democrats gained by changing the rules and push through an equal number of conservative nominees whenever the GOP again controls both Congress and the White House. “We ought to be able to offset all of those with some very constitutional appointees and get the ones that Democrats wouldn’t like and go ahead and ram them through the same way. Simple majority,” he said.

Sen. Grassley on procedural delays
(Republican - Iowa) 08/22/14
Republicans have shown no indication they will relent on their demand for procedural votes on most nominees that are guaranteed to be OK‘d by Democrats only hours later, a practice that slows the Senate to a crawl. “We’ve been successful in doing that so far,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the GOP’s top gun on judicial issues. “I’ve suggested it and the caucus has backed it up.”

Sen. Hatch Floor Statement on State of the Senate
(Republican - Utah) 07/28/14
"Last November the majority leader claimed there had been 168 filibusters on executive and judicial nominations. The majority leader used this supposedly unprecedented level of confirmation obstruction to take the drastic step of abolishing extended debate altogether using the so-called nuclear option. But the majority leader was counting cloture motions, not filibusters. A cloture motion is simply a request to end debate. A filibuster occurs when the debate cannot be ended because the cloture vote fails. In fact, most of those were not filibusters; they were falsely called that. There have been only 14 filibusters of President Obama's nominees, and that practice was on a decline. The Senate, in fact, confirmed 98 percent of President Obama's nominees. There was never a problem there. The majority leader's current opposition to filibustering Democratic nominees is simply impossible to reconcile with the 26 times he voted to filibuster Republican nominees."

Sen. Grassley Floor Statement on D.C. Circuit and opposing confirmation of Pamela Harris to Fourth Circuit
(Republican - Iowa) 07/28/14
" So now after the other side has succeeded in stacking the DC Circuit, Democratic appointees outnumber Republican appointees by a 7-to-4 majority among active judges.... Professor Harris is being fast-tracked to the Fourth Circuit just in time for another en banc appeal, should one materialize.... Professor Harris is a rock-solid vote for saving ObamaCare's unlawful subsidy regime"

Sen. Paul Issues Statement on Barron Nomination
(Republican - Kentucky) 05/15/14
"I shall not only oppose the nomination of David Barron, but will filibuster"

Sen. Hatch Floor Speech "Highlights Repeated Abuses of Executive Authority by the Obama Administration"
(Republican - Utah) 04/30/14
"After the D.C. Circuit rightfully invalidated several key Administration actions as outside the bounds of federal law, the President sought to pack that court with compliant judges in order to obtain more favorable decisions."

Sen. Hatch Op-Ed: Protect the Senate’s important 'advice and consent' role
(Republican - Utah) 04/11/14
"The filibuster allows a minority of senators to delay a confirmation vote by preventing an end to debate. The so-called “blue slip” process allows senators from the state in which a judicial nominee would serve to influence whether that nominee is considered by the Judiciary Committee."

Sen. Cornyn on Michelle Friedland and other Judicial Nominations
(Republican - Texas) 04/10/14
"The history of most nominations is there's been a lot of bipartisan cooperation to process non-controversial nominations," Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told the Washington Examiner after the floor fight. "This one, there is some controversy associated with it." ... "What happens is the majority leader wants to break the Senate rules, which they did by invoking the nuclear option, and then when we're trying to apply the rules allowing for 30 hours [debate] post-cloture, he somehow thinks that's an unreasonable position," Cornyn said. "So, I think there'd be a lot more bipartisan cooperation, so everybody could be accommodated, but for the extreme position taken on the nuclear option."

(Republican - Maine, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, Wisconsin) 04/04/14
17 Republican U.S. Senators from 12 states support 24 pending district and appeals court nominees & re-nominees (originally nominated last year) who would fill vacancies in their states

Sen. Crapo Floor Statement: Owens Nomination
(Republican - Idaho) 03/27/14
"Judge Trott took senior status on December 31, 2004, making the Trott seat the longest current vacancy of any seat on the Federal circuit courts.... This dispute is not about the qualifications of Mr. Owens. He has been rated unanimously well qualified by the American Bar Association, and I would be happy to work with the California delegation to support his nomination for the next California vacancy on the Ninth Circuit. But I cannot support a process that is the result of an unfair breaking of the Senate's rules in order to push through a nominee that takes away a seat that has been an Idaho seat on the Ninth Circuit for 25 years, leaving Idaho with only one seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sadly, because of the Senate Democrats' rule change, the Idaho delegation will not have the opportunity to stop this effort. Therefore, I will vote no on this nomination, and my hope is that, if confirmed, Mr. Owens will make the same decision that Judge Trott did 25 years ago by also choosing to maintain his chambers in Idaho."

Sen. Hatch Floor Statement
(Republican - Utah) 03/11/14
"I express my strong support for the nomination of Carolyn B. McHugh to the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.... I do have to say that this nomination could have been confirmed months ago.... The possibility of a filibuster had two effects. First, it suggested to the President that he might want to send more moderate nominees to the Senate. Second, it prompted the minority to cooperate with the majority in confirming noncontroversial nominees. ...Part of the process we used to have would have been confirming additional nominations before adjourning the first session of the Congress. The nomination before us would have been confirmed that way months ago--as well as a whole raft of other judges that we are now voting on ad seriatim. Instead, we are forced to do things in this new way. ... I wrote a Law Review article a number of years ago that I did not believe we should filibuster judicial nominations at all. That is why I voted ``present'' on so many of the President's judges, but there is no reason for me to do that anymore because the Democrats have changed the rules. They have broken the rules to change the rules, and so I might as well vote no along with the rest of the Republicans on some of these nominees--just as an expression that we don't like the way the Democrats are handling this matter. I have been, in the last few days, changing from ``present'' to no or yes depending upon the person."

Sen. Hatch on cloture votes to end filibusters of judicial nominations
(Republican - Utah) 02/24/14
"They abused the rules, and our side is not happy about it," Hatch said after the first cloture vote. Hatch said he expects the pattern of cloture before confirmation will follow on future judicial nominations, regardless of an actual filibuster threat. "I think things are going to get even worse," Hatch said.

Sen. Alexander: better for country to confirm judicial nominations as they come up; "they’re piling up. It concerns me,”
(Republican - Tennessee) 02/18/14
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, one of the leading GOP voices in the world of rules and precedents, said he would prefer that Reid just go ahead and get the procedural gears in motion. “I think it would be better for the Senate and the country if he would go ahead and confirm the nominations as they come up,” Alexander said, noting that new debate limits on lower-level positions established at the start of the current Congress mean more nominations can be moved in the course of a few days.... Alexander said he doesn’t think the events of last November should totally put the brakes on the confirmation process. “I mean, they’re piling up. It concerns me,” Alexander said of pending nominations. “We could work Mondays; we could work Fridays.” ... “I think the whole event in November was a manufactured crisis just to get three circuit judges, but there’s no need to perpetuate that,” Alexander said. “The ball’s in [Reid's] court. He can bring … any other district judge up, file cloture, wait one day and he can bring 10 up at a time if he wants to.”

Sen. Grassley Floor objection to Sen. Pryor request to vote on Arkansas judicial nominations
(Republican - Iowa) 02/12/14
"Three Democrats voted against it. I have to give credit to the Senator from Arkansas who has made this unanimous consent to be one of those who thought the minority should not be cut out of the process."

Sen. Lee Floor Statement on Wilkins Nomination
(Republican - Utah) 01/13/14
"We just confirmed Judge Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. I voted against this judge. In doing that, I joined my Republican colleagues for one simple reason. Several years ago, when President George W. Bush was in the White House, he nominated an eminently qualified lawyer named Peter Keisler who had bipartisan support. ...Since that time, if anything, the DC Circuit's caseload per judge has remained about the same or some would argue has gone down a little, depending on which metric you use."

Sen. Alexander Floor Statement
(Republican - Tennessee) 01/13/14
"There is a new book out which I mentioned on the floor the other day. My guess is it will become the leading history of this body. It is written by the former Senate Historian, Richard Baker, and the late Neil MacNeil, who wrote what many consider to be the best history of the House of Representatives. They say in the book that the genius I just talked about--``the authentic touch of genius that is the Senate''--the major reason for that is the opportunity for extended debate. They point out, as I think any of us would, that there have been abuses with the filibuster, more delays than are necessary; that the Senate doesn't work as well as it should ... There have been abuses of the filibuster. It is true that some Republicans have unduly delayed nominations and unduly delayed legislation. ...there were not very many people on the Executive Calendar, and we had changed the rules to make it easier to confirm them, anyway. There were 13 district judges, so the majority leader could bring them up on Thursday--Friday is the intervening day--and Monday there could be 2 hours of debate on each judge, and we could confirm four or five by doing it over the weekend in that way."

Sen. Grassley Statement at Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Republican - Iowa) 12/19/13
"All the judicial nominations on the agenda appear for the first time, and we request they be held over."

Sen. Grassley Responds to Chairman Leahy's statement on Judiciary Committee matters
(Republican - Iowa) 12/18/13
“The so-called obstruction of nominees is a figment of the Democrats’ imagination."

Sen. Lamar Alexander calls Senate rule decision 'Obamacare II'
(Republican - Tennessee) 12/08/13
This is the same kind of power play. There was no justification for this.” On how this is different from when Republicans under former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist considered the same option in 2005 “The difference is he didn’t do it,” Alexander said of his fellow Tennessean. “The reason he didn’t was because Harry Reid said it would be the end of the Senate. ... We agreed we wouldn’t do that. We would only block nominees by cloture, by filibuster, in extraordinary circumstances.”