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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. Collins opposes possible Senate rules change to ban filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - Maine) 01/28/15
“I certainly would not support further limiting the rights of senators,” said moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Sen. Lindsay Graham opposes possible Senate rules change to ban filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - South Carolina) 01/28/15
“You’re going to ruin the judiciary over time,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who wants all nominees subject to a 60-vote threshold. “I like the idea of having to reach across the aisle. ’Cause what you’re doing is you’re turning judicial appointments over to the hardest of the hard within each caucus.”

Sen. Cruz v. confirming judicial nominees
(Republican - Texas) 01/28/15
“For several months now, I’ve called for us to use every constitutional check and balance we have to rein in the president’s illegal action. That includes using the confirmation power given by the Constitution as a direct check on the executive,” Cruz said. “In my view the majority leader should announce the Senate will not confirm any executive or judicial nominees in this Congress, other than vital national security positions, unless and until the president rescinds” the executive actions granting deferred action to almost 5 million of undocumented individuals.

Sen. Blunt on possible Senate rules change to ban filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - Missouri) 01/27/15
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said on Tuesday that his panel will vote later this year on the filibuster reforms suggested by Alexander and Lee and allow it to be amended by other senators on the Rules Committee. ...“Clarence Thomas was a very controversial nominee — 52-48. So the real tradition of the Senate is that these confirmations were done by a majority,” Blunt said. “You could argue there’s a reason [not to do it]. But the tradition of the Senate isn’t one of them.”

Sen. Alexander on proposal to change Senate rules to ban filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - Tennessee) 01/23/15
“What we would like to do is adopt by rule the way the Senate has always operated,” argued Alexander, who said he is writing the plan with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “The history of the Senate has been up-or-down votes, as I call them, at 51.”

Sen. McCain on Senate rules on filibusters of nominees
(Republican - Arizona) 01/23/15
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said it would be “sheer hypocrisy” for Republicans not to revert to the old filibuster rules, given how forcefully they complained about the Democrats’ actions. If his view holds sway, all nominees for posts from low-level bureaucrat to Supreme Court chief justice would face a 60-vote threshold. “We said this was outrageous what they did,” McCain said. “Not only how they did it, but what they did, OK? Some of my Republican colleagues seem to have forgotten that. Some selective amnesia.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley on Filibuster Rule, "Blue Slips" and Judicial Nominations
(Republican - Iowa) 01/21/15
"The senator is "leaning towards" keeping the 51-vote threshold in place, a spokeswoman confirmed in an email. Asked how he would consider future judicial nominees, Grassley said that he would hold to the Senate tradition of seeking approval from a nominee's home-state senators (in letters known as "blue slips"). "Beyond that," he said, "I look at intellect, judicial temperament, how they interpret the Constitution, preferring strict constructionists, you know. That doesn't mean that you vote against people who don't fall into that pattern, but that's what I appreciate.… Not legislate from the branch, follow stare decisis. Pretty much that's how I've been looking at judges for a long period of time.""

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.

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."

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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.”