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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Risch on White House agrees to re-nominate Judge Nye for long-vacant Idaho federal judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 04/27/17
The White House has signed off on the re-nomination of Idaho Judge David Nye to fill Idaho’s long-vacant federal district judgeship, Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch said Thursday.... Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last June, but his nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate ... Though Crapo and Risch continued pushing for the Idaho nomination, they had to start over after the election, to get new President Donald Trump to sign on. "We have been in constant communication with the White House regarding Judge Nye," Risch said Thursday. "The White House has assured us that he will be in the first wave of judges to advance, and we anticipate that happening soon."

Sen. Crapo on White House agrees to re-nominate Nye for long-vacant Idaho judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 04/27/17
“The White House has told me that Judge Nye will be included in the very first group of district judicial nominees that it sends to the Senate,” Crapo said. “While I have yet to be given a definitive timeline for that renomination, I will be active in ushering Judge Nye through the Judiciary Committee once his nomination is received.” Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last June, but his nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate, ..... Though Crapo and Idaho Sen. Jim Risch continued pushing for the Idaho nomination, they had to start over after the election, to get new President Donald Trump to sign on.... “He previously appeared before and was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee,” Crapo said, “so I will be working with my colleagues to move his renomination quickly.”

Judiciary Committee Member Sen. Lindsey Graham hopes blue slip process does not change
(Republican - South Carolina) 04/23/17
Also unclear is whether the traditional practice will persist in which both senators from a state, regardless of party, consult with the White House on a nominee and then have to approve of the nominee for the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward.... Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a committee member, says he thinks the future of the bipartisan process is "the real fight" going forward. He says he hopes it doesn't change. "I think there's a lot of desire to keep that power within the Senate," he said.

Sen. Toomey supports renomination of Obama judicial nominee
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 04/13/17
On whether he would support a renomination of U.S. Magistrate Susan Paradise Baxter, a Democrat from Erie, to fill Erie’s vacant federal judge seat. Toomey supported Baxter when President Barack Obama nominated her in 2015, but with a new president, the process to fill vacancies has reset: “I am supportive. I went to great lengths to try to get Judge Baxter across the line. We weren’t quite able to do that. But we’ll have another opportunity.”

Sen. Grassley on circuit and district court nominee blue slip requirement
(Republican - Iowa) 04/07/17
One hurdle is the “blue slip” process, in which senators are asked to review judicial nominees who are slated to take seats in their home states. If both senators from the state don’t return their blue slips, the nomination is usually put on hold. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, told reporters Friday that although “there’s been some exception to the blue slip rule,” he generally intends to follow the tradition for Mr. Trump’s nominees.

Sens. Rubio and Bill Nelson letter asks President Trump to keep judicial picks they sent to Obama
(Republican - Florida) 03/16/17
"For the past several decades, Florida's US. Senators have worked in a bipartisan manner to provide finalists for US. District Court vacancies in our state. These finalists are recommended by the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission of Florida. Comprised of leading lawyers throughout Florida and members of the general public, the INC conducts a thorough selection process that identifies finalists for such vacancies. On April 28, 2016, President Obama nominated Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for two US. District Court vacancies in the Middle District and Philip Lammens for the US. District Court vacancy in the Northern District. These individuals were all INC-recommended finalists, and we indicated our support for their confirmation by favorably submitting blue slips to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Because there was no timely action taken on these nominations last Congress, we respectfully request that you nominate these highly qualified individuals for the US. District Court vacancies as soon as possible. We have no objections to these individuals, subject to any further review of their records and background. Moreover, timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies."

[Sen. Portman] Portman, Brown Request Applications for U.S. District Judgeship Vacancies in Ohio's Southern and Northern Districts
(Republican - Ohio) 03/13/17
“We wish both Judge Frost and Judge Nugent well in their retirement, and thank them for their years of public service,” said Portman. “The commission will weigh the best candidates and give Ohioans an opportunity to have input on the selection.” NOTE: The President of the United States nominates U.S. District Court Judges based on recommendations from U.S. Senators. Nominees must then be confirmed by the full U.S. Senate. U.S. District Courts are general trial courts which hear both civil and criminal cases. In the interest of identifying the best possible judicial candidates for Ohio’s federal bench, Portman and Brown are working to establish a bipartisan judicial advisory commission. Members of the commission will be chosen by both senators to review applications and recommend candidates for this vacancy. This is a process that was first established by Brown and former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH).

[Sen. Toomey quote] Senators Casey and Toomey Continue Bipartisan Agreement on District Court Vacancies
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 03/10/17
Sens. Casey and Toomey look forward to continuing this bipartisan process under President Trump, and appointing individuals who demonstrate the intelligence, experience, and character to serve Pennsylvania well on the federal bench. ... "Since 2011, Sen. Casey and I have worked to confirm 14 qualified jurists to fill district court vacancies on the federal bench. This is more than every other state except California and Texas during that time," said Sen. Toomey. "We will continue our bipartisan agreement to ensure that the most capable, knowledgeable and ethical candidates become federal judges serving Pennsylvania." ... Separate judicial nomination advisory panels will be established in the Eastern District and Western District of Pennsylvania ... Each panel will be made up of 20 members, including two co-chairs. Sens. Casey and Toomey will each appoint nine panel members and one co-chair.... There are currently no vacancies in the Middle District.

Sen. Toomey expresses continued support for Susan Paradise Baxter
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 02/28/17
Toomey and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, supported Obama's nomination of Baxter, 60, a Democrat from Erie who has been a federal magistrate judge for 22 years. Toomey will support a renomination of Baxter under Trump, a Republican, said Toomey's spokesman, Steve Kelly. "Sen. Toomey believes it is crucial to place a sitting judge at the federal courthouse in Erie, which has remained vacant for years," Kelly said. "He believes that Judge Baxter has the intellect, experience and integrity to serve as a federal judge. "Sen. Toomey looks forward to working with Sen. Casey and the White House to fill the vacancy at the Erie courthouse and other pending vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania."

Sen. Sasse Announces Nebraska Justice and Judicial Nominations Advisory Commission
(Republican - Nebraska) 02/14/17
Sen. Sasse Press Release: "Senator Sasse’s Nebraska Justice and Judicial Nominations Advisory Commission is an independent body of well-respected Nebraska leaders that will review applications, interview candidates, and make recommendations to Senator Sasse. Each Senator makes his or her recommendation to the White House. After the White House sends a nomination to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its confirmation process which, by longstanding precedent, requires the approval of both home-state senators."

Sen. Young: Federal Judge Applications
(Republican - Indiana) 02/14/17
"Indiana currently has four judicial vacancies: three in the District Court (Northern, Fort Wayne; Northern, South Bend; Southern, Indianapolis) and one in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Qualified individuals can apply for these positions by downloading the application form here and returning it following the instructions on the form prior to the March 13, 2017 deadline. United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Application Northern District Court Application Southern District Court Application"

Indiana Senators on judicial vacancies
(Republican - Indiana) 02/14/17
Indiana Sen. Todd Young is taking applications for several vacancies in federal federal court ... Young has spoken with Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly about the process, according to Donnelly’s office. Applicants are being sought for judicial vacancies in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne division and South Bend division; and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis division.... Applications are due by March 13. “Indiana currently has multiple vacancies that are creating a strain on our justice system,” Young said in a press release. “It’s my mission to recommend qualified, trustworthy Hoosiers to the President to fill these roles as soon as possible.” In January 2016, former President Barack Obama nominated two candidates for the Indiana judicial vacancies. Winfield Ong, nominee for the Southern District of Indiana, was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee but never received a full vote by the U.S. Senate. Myra Selby, nominee for the 7th Circuit, was not given a hearing by the Judiciary Committee because former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats withheld his support.

Sens. Fischer, Sasse Announce Judicial Nominations Process for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
(Republican - Nebraska) 02/10/17
Nebraska’s U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse announced the application process for filling a forthcoming vacancy in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Last week, Chief Judge William Jay Riley announced he will transition from active service to senior status effective June 30, 2017. Under the U.S. Constitution, judicial nominations are made by the president “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Typically, home state senators work with the Office of White House Counsel to identify for the president’s consideration qualified candidates for vacancies on the U.S. circuit courts. Senators Fischer and Sasse invite applications from qualified Nebraskans.

Sens. Cruz, Cornyn Announce Application Process for Texas Judgeships and U.S. Attorney Positions
(Republican - Texas) 01/19/17
“The FJEC selection process ensures Texans have the best, most qualified federal judges and prosecutors serving them,” Sen. Cruz said. “Texas is blessed with many exceptional candidates with a deep respect for the rule of law, and I encourage them to pursue these important positions.” “As a former judge and Attorney General of Texas, I acutely understand the importance of ensuring that we have the best people sitting on the federal bench and enforcing federal law in Texas,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I encourage any qualified individuals interested in serving Texas in these roles to take the first step by submitting their information to the review committee.”

Sen. Gardner Reopens Committee to Fill Colorado Judicial Vacancy
(Republican - Colorado) 01/19/17
In November 2015, Gardner recommended four potential nominees the White House. While President Obama nominated one of Gardner’s recommendations, the nominee was not confirmed. “The search to fill the Colorado judgeship began nearly a year prior to the vacancy in order to ensure that an already busy court is not understaffed,” said Gardner. “It is critical that the process to fill the vacancy remains thorough and expeditious. That is why I have requested the Judicial Evaluation Committee provide recommendations within 30 days so that I can send potential nominees to President-elect Trump as soon as possible.”

Sen. Crapo joins Senate Judiciary Committee, hopes to push David Nye renomination and third Idaho federal judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 01/03/17
He and fellow GOP Sen. Jim Risch persuaded the Judiciary Committee to unanimously approve the nomination of Idaho Judge David Nye for the state’s vacant federal judgeship in the fall, but the nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate. That leaves Idaho still down to just one active federal district judge, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, since longtime Judge Edward Lodge took senior status in July of 2015. Lindsay Nothern, Crapo’s spokesman, said, “We’re really going to work hard on Nye and work hard on the judges thing. That was a part of the move to the Judiciary Committee.” Nothern said Crapo is hoping to move Nye’s nomination through “sooner rather than later,” and said he’ll “absolutely” be in a better position to advocate for Idaho to get a third judgeship. “He might be writing the legislation to do it,” Nothern said.

Sen. Crapo to Join Judiciary Committee in 115th Congress
(Republican - Idaho) 01/03/17
Crapo will work with the President-elect to nominate and confirm Idaho’s next U.S. District Judge.... “When the committee convenes, it will hold hearings and act to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. That nominee must follow in the model of Justice Scalia, looking first and foremost to the Constitution for guidance. I will also work with other panel members to advance to the full Senate a nominee to be Idaho’s next U.S. District judge."

Idaho Senators on federal district court nominee
(Republican - Idaho) 12/08/16
Despite the best efforts of Idaho’s two senators, the lame-duck session of Congress is wrapping up without any confirmation votes on judges – including U.S. District judge nominee David Nye of Idaho. ... Sen. Mike Crapo’s spokesman, Lindsay Nothern, said, “The odds of us getting it done today are probably not good. So we need to push forth into the new year and continue to work with the Trump folks on Judge Nye’s nomination and confirmation.” “We’re going to keep going with Nye,” Nothern said.... The federal court system has declared a “judicial emergency” in Idaho due the shortage of judges, and out-of-state judges have been brought in to hear Idaho cases. “We are disappointed – we would have liked to have gotten it done now,” Nothern said. “That said, we’re still optimistic in working with Trump’s folks, because they’re asking us who we like and we say we’re going to support Judge Nye. There’s been communication already.” However, he noted, “We’d have to re-nominate him through the Trump Administration.” Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee in July after a hearing in June. He’s among 20 federal district court nominees who’ve won unanimous support from the committee, but never got floor votes in the full Senate on their confirmations.

Sen. Moran disappointed district court nominee Terrence Campbell was not able to be confirmed before the election.
(Republican - Kansas) 12/07/16
A Lawrence attorney nominated to the federal bench in Kansas nearly a year ago is withdrawing his name from consideration. Terrence J. Campbell made public on Wednesday letters he sent to President Barack Obama and to Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran. He cites the short time remaining for Congress to complete its business and the results of the recent election, saying it is apparent he will not be able to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Moran says he is disappointed Campbell was not able to be confirmed before the election.

Sens. Crapo and Risch on ID federal district court nominee and need for another judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 12/07/16
With Congress nearing adjournment for the year, Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho have had no luck in getting the GOP-controlled Senate to confirm David Nye, a Pocatello judge nominated in April by President Barack Obama. As a result, both senators are hoping that the president-elect will renominate Nye for the position in 2017.... Even if Nye is approved next year, Risch and Crapo say that Idaho still needs a third federal judge to handle the state’s growing caseload. ... Risch and Crapo both issued statements through their press aides, saying they’d work with Trump next year to try to get Nye renominated and confirmed as quickly as possible.

Sen. Hoeven spokesman on Jennifer Klemtsrud Puhl 8th Circuit Court of Appeals nomination
(Republican - North Dakota) 11/30/16
Puhl has the support of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., both of whom introduced her when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June. In that hearing, Puhl found a friendly reception and her nomination was sent to the Senate floor on a voice vote with no dissents. Despite her bipartisan support, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate majority leader, told Hoeven after the Thanksgiving break that no Obama judicial or executive nominees will move forward in the waning days of the lame duck Congress, said Don Canton, Hoeven's spokesman. But when Donald Trump takes over as president and the new Congress convenes in January, Hoeven will again submit Puhl's name—among others—as a potential nominee for the 8th Circuit judicial vacancy, Canton said. North Dakota's seat on the appeals court was vacated by Kermit Bye, who last year took senior status at age 77 and retired Sept 1. "We'll certainly advance Jennifer's name and support her next year, but we'll also have to forward several other names, too," he said.

Idaho Senators ponder how much to do in lame-duck session, with Nye nomination at the ready
(Republican - Idaho) 11/16/16
“Sen. Risch and I both want very much to see this resolved this year in the lame duck, and that is what he and I are going to aggressively continue working for,” Crapo said. At this point, Crapo said, senators want assurance from their leaders and the incoming Trump Administration about the overall approach. “One thing that could cause trouble in the Senate is if we were able to get, say, just some of the nominees,” Crapo said. Nye is No. 18 on the list of 20 federal district court nominees and three federal circuit court nominees awaiting final votes; all have been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not all won unanimous approval as Nye did. “If we start moving only the ones that are unanimous, and then others don’t move, then the senators from the states that nominees don’t move may cause trouble,” Crapo said. “So it’s never simple.” All 20 of the district court nominees won unanimous approval, as did one of the three circuit court nominees, but the other two circuit nominees had split committee votes. “Sen. Risch and I are currently working very hard to see if there is a pathway to move still in the lame duck,” Crapo said.... Crapo said the answer on whether Nye’s nomination will come up for a vote soon likely won’t come today, and “maybe not even next week.”

Sens. Crapo, Risch standing by Judge Nye nomination, hoping for Senate vote soon
(Republican - Idaho) 11/14/16
“Nye is still in play through the lame-duck,” said Lindsay Nothern, spokesman for Crapo. He noted that Nye already has won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’re that far, so hopefully we can get a vote,” Nothern said. “The hope would be that we can get it through on unanimous consent.”... John Sandy, chief of staff for Risch, said, “It’s imperative to Idaho that we get this other judge.” He said Risch remains committed to pushing for a full Senate vote on Nye during the lame-duck session, and if that doesn’t work, pursuing it in 2017. Layne Bangerter, Idaho director for the Trump for President campaign and a member of the Trump transition team, said he wouldn’t predict any change in the Idaho nominee choice even after Trump takes office. “I think that’s a solid process that they have gone through, and that Donald Trump would support that,” he said.

Sen. Cruz on five Texas federal district court nominees and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - Texas) 10/03/16
Just two weeks ago, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on five Texas judges. They were tapped by Obama to fill half of the vacancies in the sprawling red state. The state’s Republican senators are advocating their speedy approval by the full Senate.... While the Texans are pushing their home state nominees, they’re opposed to holding hearings on Garland or anyone else the president might have picked to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. “Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley have rightly held the line,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Daily Beast. He says there’s no comparing district court judges and the ninth seat on the highest court in the land, in part because the nominating process is drastically different. “We have a federal judiciary advisory committee that consists of respected attorney’s from across the state—geographically diverse, politically diverse, bipartisan—that interviews potential judicial candidates and ensures that nominees have the qualifications and experience and temperament to do the important jobs for which they’re being considered, and each of these five nominees made it through this vigorous process,” Cruz said.

Sen. Cornyn on five Texas federal district court nominees
(Republican - Texas) 10/03/16
Just two weeks ago, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on five Texas judges. They were tapped by Obama to fill half of the vacancies in the sprawling red state. The state’s Republican senators are advocating their speedy approval by the full Senate. “We’ll try to make the case that that should happen in the lame duck session,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Daily Beast. “We’d like to do it now, but there’s probably not enough time to get it done.”

Sen. Risch on filling Idaho federal court vacancy
(Republican - Idaho) 10/03/16
Sen. Jim Risch says he’s still optimistic that the vacancy will be filled this year. “We are pressing to get to the goal line, to get this judge approved,” Risch, R-Idaho, said Monday. “It’s just the process up there is such that it takes a long time. It is deeply, deeply involved in politics. . . . He’s in the queue.”... Risch is hoping for a vote before the Senate adjourns for good this year. “We think we have a path forward,” he said. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

Sen. Hatch on confirming judges
(Republican - Utah) 09/19/16
“This president does not have much to gripe about because he’s had well over 40 percent of the federal judiciary,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said. “He’s probably had more judicial nominations than any president in recent history, so it isn’t that he’s been mistreated.”

Sen. Cornyn on confirming additional judges
(Republican - Texas) 09/19/16
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) pointed to Obama’s predecessor for a comparison. “You look at the number of judges confirmed under George W. Bush and President Obama has been treated quite fairly,” he said. ... Cornyn said he’s open to confirming additional judges, but said it "depends on who they are.” “I’ve got some judges from Texas who have been approved by Sen. [Ted] Cruz and myself and the president,” he said. “Those sorts of choices would seem to be a logical place to go, so we’ll see. I’d certainly be open to it.” Cornyn said it’s ultimately up to the majority leader to decide whether to offer Democrats another deal. McConnell’s office would not comment on whether one is in the works.

Sen. Cotton Objection [Blocks Votes on 5 Court of Federal Claims Nominees Judiciary Committee Twice Approved Unanimously]
(Republican - Arkansas) 09/13/16
"I objected to the confirmation of these judges before, and the reason still stands. There is little evidence that the Court of Federal Claims needs them.... There will be more discussion between my office and the White House about this data, but at this time I have yet to receive compelling data showing a judicial emergency for the Court of Federal Claims.... This is a serious court; the Senate should be serious as we consider confirming judges to it. The President's nominations to the court should not be rubberstamped."

Republican Senators from 15 States Urge Immediate Action to Fill Their Judicial Vacancies (CO, FL, ID, IN, KS, LA, ND, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, WI) (Sept. 13, 2016)
(Republican - Colorado, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, North Dakota, Kentucky, Louisiana, Wisconsin) 09/13/16
Including all 16 Republican senators with nominees on the Senate Floor. Excerpts and links to Senator statements by state