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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. McConnell on Judicial Nominations
(Republican - Kentucky) 06/09/17
“The courts — of all the things that we should be able to accomplish with this president and this Senate — the courts have the longest reach into the future,” McConnell said. “We have a significant number of vacancies coming into this administration. The president knows this is a way to have an impact on our country far beyond his tenure in office.” McConnell recognized the nomination process would be a “tough battle” amid what he called “blind obstruction” by the minority party. “The left is on war-footing for just about everything these days and that includes the lower courts,” he said. “They are doing everything they can to tie the Senate in knots. They are forcing procedural hurdles on just about everything.” Trump on Wednesday sent up a slate of federal court nominations and McConnell said they would give each one a “fair hearing and vote.” ... He recalled a conversation he had with Gorsuch following his confirmation, during which the new Supreme Court associate justice said he hoped to serve for 20 to 25 years. “What we had in mind was a lot longer tenure than 20 or 25 years,” McConnell told Gorsuch and said to “think Strom Thurmond” who left the Senate at the age of 100. Thurmond was in fragile health the last several years of his tenure.

Sens. Young, Donnelly Hold Off Committing on Gorsuch Till After Hearings: Young: "Highly impressed" by Supreme Court nominee
(Republican - Indiana) 02/24/17
Indiana's senators are from opposite parties, but they're taking the same stance on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.... Donnelly says he won't decide how to vote until after Gorsuch's confirmation hearings next month -- but Republican Todd Young says the same, though he says he's "highly impressed" after meeting with Gorsuch. He calls the federal appeals judge a constitutionalist with impeccable credentials.

Sen. Collins: "I am not a proponent of changing the rules of the Senate,"
(Republican - Maine) 01/30/17
Republicans potentially have the power to further change the rules so the minority can't even block a Supreme Court nominee. However, it takes 51 votes in the Senate to employ the nuclear option. And Republicans may not have the votes. Already one Republican — Susan Collins of Maine — says don't count on her vote. "I am not a proponent of changing the rules of the Senate," said Collins on Monday evening. "I hope that common sense will prevail and that we will have a normal process for considering this nominee."

Sen. McConnell won't rule out nuclear option for Supreme Court nominee
(Republican - Kentucky) 01/22/17
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Sunday refused to rule out the possibility of invoking the so-called "nuclear option" when confirming the next Supreme Court justice, answering repeated inquiries by expressing confidence on Sunday that President Trump's nominee will get confirmed.... "Let me just say, I'm confident we'll get a Supreme Court nominee confirmed," McConnell said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." "I expect an outstanding nominee sometime soon."... "I think it's noteworthy to look at how the Republican minority handled Bill Clinton the first, in his first administration. Both of his first two nominees, Ginsburg and Breyer, no filibuster," McConnell said. "Obama, in his first term, to go, no filibuster. We think our nominee ought to be treated the same way."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on expiration of Merrick Garland nomination
(Republican - Kentucky) 01/03/17
“I’ve been clear throughout that the next president would name the next Supreme Court justice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said through a spokesman. “Now, the president who won the election will make the nomination, and the Senate the American people just re-elected will consider that nomination.”

Sen. Sasse moves to Judiciary Committee
(Republican - Nebraska) 01/03/17
"Nebraskans know that defending our Constitution means fighting for Supreme Court justices who reject 'pen and phone' theories of executive unilateralism -- that's exactly what I'll be working on in the Judiciary Committee," he 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."

Even with GOP in power, Sens. John McCain, Jeff Flake want to preserve Senate filibuster
(Republican - Arizona) 12/02/16
Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake are saying the Senate, controlled by their fellow Republicans, should not tinker with filibuster rules to ease the path for incoming President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominations and legislative agenda. But McCain, Arizona's senior senator, signaled to The Arizona Republic that he might reconsider his position should Senate Democrats prove intransigent.... "I would like to see us not break the 60-vote rule, but I can't rule out consideration of it if we are just totally gridlocked," McCain said. "But we also have to keep in mind that at no time in history has one party always remained in the majority. That's democracy.... Flake, Arizona's junior senator, was more adamant in his defense of the filibuster. Jettisoning the filibuster for legislation would be particularly damaging to the system and "would change the very nature of the Senate," he said. "As for the agenda, I think we can work with a number of Democrats," Flake said. "We won't always be in the majority and, if you like limited government, I think the filibuster is wise."

(Republican - Texas) 11/29/16
"I think people realized that Secretary Clinton would likely appoint more judges in the tradition of people like Justice Ginsburg and Justice Sotomayor, people who demonstrated their record of being willing to take some license with the Constitution and the laws and basically rewrite them in their own image. I think the American people knew they were choosing between activist judges who essentially operated as unaccountable, unelected legislators wearing black robes or judges who believed in the more traditional role for the judiciary--judges who actually interpret the written words on the page passed by the Congress and signed into law or the Constitution itself. "

Sen. Flake on filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - Arizona) 11/16/16
Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., all said Tuesday that they would not support a change to the Senate rules to require a simple majority vote to end a Democratic filibuster for high court nominees. "I never wanted to go nuclear – I think we could do it without going nuclear," Flake said in a brief interview about the looming high court fight.

Sen. Corker on filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - Tennessee) 11/16/16
Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., all said Tuesday that they would not support a change to the Senate rules to require a simple majority vote to end a Democratic filibuster for high court nominees. "I think the filibuster rule has played an important, while it has been abused … has played an important role in seeking again things that will be durable that don't just flip around when there's a change in control and that would not be my first choice," Corker told reporters Tuesday night.

Sen. Cornyn on Senate action on judicial nominees
(Republican - Texas) 11/16/16
Cornyn said he expected that as soon as Trump takes office the Senate will act swiftly on judicial nominees, including whomever Trump picks to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Graham on filibusters of Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - South Carolina) 11/16/16
Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., all said Tuesday that they would not support a change to the Senate rules to require a simple majority vote to end a Democratic filibuster for high court nominees.... Graham, after a lengthy press conference with reporters, also said he would likely oppose such a drastic move to limit the Senate's minority power.

Sen. Capito on Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - West Virginia) 11/01/16
“I would disagree strongly with Sen. Cruz’s recent comments,” Capito said. “I think making a blanket statement that nominees should be blocked for four years leads to partisan gridlock and that is not a direction I would want to go.” But Capito added that she wants the next justice to have a record of supporting gun rights and opposing environmental regulations like the Clean Power Plan -- requirements that would likely lead to deadlock anyway if Clinton wins the election and Republicans keep control of the Senate. … With the court losing its most conservative voice in Scalia, Capito says she wants to ensure that a conservative replaces him. “I am looking for somebody who would add a conservative voice to the court, somebody who has a more strict interpretation of the constitution,” Capito said, adding that she believes that is what West Virginians want as well…. Capito reiterated Monday that she opposed Garland’s nomination because it was too close to the presidential election, though Obama nominated the current federal appeals court judge nearly eight months before the Nov. 8 election. Capito still believes Trump will win the Presidency, and she said everything at this point is hypothetical because Clinton has not named the people she would consider for the lifetime seat. She added that she would not “prejudge any candidates.”

Sen. Joni Ernst would consider Clinton Supreme Court picks
(Republican - Iowa) 11/01/16
Sen. Joni Ernst flatly rejected Tuesday a strategy floated by some of her fellow Senate Republicans to block any Supreme Court appointments Hillary Clinton might make if she is elected president. “I don’t support that type of approach,” Ernst said. “I will look at the nominees.” The Iowa senator was quick to add that she wasn’t committing to voting for every Clinton nominee; she would first review their records to see whether they are committed to upholding the Constitution. But she disagreed with refusing to consider them, .... "making sure that our next president has the opportunity to select their nominee for the United States Supreme Court,” Ernst said.

Sen. Coats on why Judge Garland cannot get a Senate hearing on his Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Indiana) 10/30/16
John Krull: We take a call about President Barack Obama’s long-deferred nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. The caller wants to know why Garland can’t get a hearing from Coats’ fellow Republicans in the Senate. Coats’ answer is honest, if not satisfying to listeners. “Politics,” he says – and he lists many other issues or questions that remain unaddressed because the two parties are determined not to work together.

Sen. Ayotte on possible lame duck vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - New Hampshire) 10/05/16
"Well, I think it’s really going to be up to Secretary Clinton, if she wins this election, whether she would be renominating and supporting Merrick Garland. I’ve said very clearly from day one that the new president is going to weigh in on who they want to nominate. So if she is going to affirm that that will be her nominee, as well, then absolutely I will be giving him full consideration."

Sen. Ron Johnson on Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Wisconsin) 10/04/16
Regarding President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, Johnson said it is not up to him to bring his nomination to a vote. But, if the nomination was brought to the Senate, he would vote against Garland. “He has proven to be hostile to second amendment rights, and I want to fight to protect second amendment rights,” Johnson 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. Flake on Merrick Garland nomination to fill Supreme Court vacancy
(Republican - Arizona) 10/03/16
[Sen.] Flake believes his party miscalculated on Garland from the evening Scalia died and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shut the door on confirming anyone—from a Republican ally to a moderate like Garland—that President Obama put forward to fill the vacancy. “Our position shouldn’t be that the next president ought to decide. Nobody really believes that, because if this were the last year of a Republican presidency nobody would say that,” Flake said with a chuckle. “Our position ought to be to confirm the most conservative justice to replace Scalia—to maintain the balance on the Court. That ought to be the principle, and that would allow for us to go with Garland if the alternative is somebody more liberal.”

Sen. McCain on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - Arizona) 10/03/16
"From what I’ve seen of his record, he is too far left. They’re portraying him as a moderate, but I’ve seen a couple, three decisions of his I do not agree with. If Hillary Clinton is elected, then it will depend on who has a majority in the United States Senate. If we have the majority then that nominee would have to be acceptable to us. If they’re in the majority, then it’s much harder, but it would still require 60 votes. And I align myself completely with my dear, beloved friend Joe Biden, who in 1992 took to the floor of the Senate and said, by God, let the people decide. We’re not going to have a lame-duck Congress decide a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Sen. McCain stands firm on opposition to Supreme Court hearings—although he'd have pushed for them if he were president
(Republican - Arizona) 09/22/16
Sen. John McCain has stood strong in opposing hearings for President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland .... But while he believes in that principle from his current post in the Senate, McCain told the Weekly over the weekend that he would have pushed to appoint a justice if he were in the last year of his second term as president. "I'm sure I would want it to be part of my legacy, but that's our system of government," McCain said. "There are three co-equal branches. It's not where you stand, it's where you sit. In the Senate, my priorities and my responsibilities as a legislator are very different than my priorities and authority as the executive."... McCain, who has voted against confirming Obama nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said that he would also oppose Garland if the GOP were to budge and allow hearings. "From what I've seen of his record, it's too far left," McCain said. "They're portraying him as a moderate, but there are a couple, three decisions of his that I would not agree with."

Sen. Hatch Op-Ed: The future of the Supreme Court
(Republican - Utah) 09/13/16
"November’s election will determine the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation. The next president will have at least one, and as many as four or five, vacancies to fill. There is no more important issue in this election than the Supreme Court.... lower federal courts have the last word in the vast majority of cases. During his time in office, President Obama has appointed nearly 40 percent of the entire judiciary. These judges will serve an average of more than 20 years, with the power either to follow or rewrite the law."

Sen. Grassley Floor Statement: Filling the Supreme Court Vacancy
(Republican - Iowa) 09/08/16
"I remain convinced that we owe the people a chance to speak their minds on the Supreme Court during this election."

(Republican - Georgia) 09/07/16
"By choosing to withhold our consent in this case, we are doing our job, just as we have said all along and just as our jobs are laid out in the Constitution.... The last time a Supreme Court vacancy arose and a nominee was confirmed in a Presidential election year was actually in 1932. But the last time this situation occurred where we had a divided government and we had a Supreme Court Justice nominated and confirmed in that year was 1888.... As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I am, therefore, proud to stand with Chairman Grassley and my colleagues in the committee in saying no Supreme Court nominee should be considered by the Senate before the next President is sworn into office. I also believe that it shouldn't be taken up in a lameduck session."

Sen. Crapo on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - Idaho) 08/16/16
Crapo called Garland an activist judge, who would join four other liberal justices in forming a majority on the court. “The nominee that President Obama has put forth is, in my belief and the belief of my colleagues, an activist,” Crapo said. “Does the Senate have a constitutional obligation to vote? The president nominates and the Senate gives its advice and consent.”

Sen. McConnell on blocking Supreme Court nominee
(Republican - Kentucky) 08/06/16
McConnell took a moment during his own speech to tout his decision to block President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. "One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, 'Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.'"

Sen. Crapo on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - Idaho) 08/02/16
Crapo said much of the national political attention lately has been on three fronts — the race for the presidency, control of the Senate and President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's death.... On the Supreme Court, Crapo said the Senate has not confirmed Garland's nomination because that would shift the majority of the votes to the side of what he calls the "activist" judges rather than the previous evenly-split scenario with a swing vote. "I believe the strong argument could be made that it would be a 5-3-1 vote that would shift our entire jurisprudence system in a direction that would be very harmful for our country," he said. "We're in the middle of intense political battles."

Senator Moran on Supreme Court Confirmation
(Republican - Kansas) 07/31/16
"The decision has been made that there's not going to be a hearing or a process by which judge Garland would be considered until after the elections,," Moran says. "So. we're just a few months away from the election, and I assume this will be a topic of conversation legislatively when congress is back in session in November and December."

Sen. Capito on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - West Virginia) 07/22/16
She also addressed a question regarding whether she would vote to confirm President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. “I have not met him, so here’s how I see his nomination right now: I’ve said we should let the next Congress decide, regardless of what that Congress is going to be,” Capito said. “I know he’s very well-thought-of and has a lot of support from both sides of the aisle. Because of the timing of the nomination and the huge issues at stake, I’m going to be looking at constitutionality and where I think he would fit into that.”