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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on Jeff Mateer and other Trump judicial nominees
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 09/21/17
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., another Judiciary Committee member, said Mateer's nomination was a new low for judge nominees. "Republicans have lowered the standard for federal judges to get ones who will pass their ideological test: opposition to sensible gun laws, hostility to women's reproductive rights, commitment to protecting political dark money, and disregard for public health and safety protections," he said. "One even called a Supreme Court Justice a 'judicial prostitute,' but Jeff Mateer, who calls transgender children part of 'Satan's plan,' is a new low. This is just not normal."

ICYMI: Sen. Coons defends Senate ‘blue slip’ process for reviewing judicial nominees
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/21/17
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, defended the Senate ‘blue slip’ process to Business Insider. "Judges are appointed with lifetime tenure, so it is critical that senators have the ability to secure judges for their home states that are qualified for their positions," Senator Coons told Business Insider. "This isn't a partisan issue, either — this allows Republican senators to prevent Democratic presidents from confirming unqualified or inappropriate judges for their home states, and vice versa. The blue slip process encourages bipartisanship, too, and it increases the chances of consensus candidates. Ending the blue slip process would diminish the ability of senators to provide input based on the local needs of their states, making it increasingly difficult for the Judiciary Committee to function in a bipartisan way."

Sen. Lee on home-state Senator blue slips
(Republican - Utah) 09/20/17
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider in a statement that the blue slip process "should be used to prompt consultation between the Senate and the White House," but that it "isn't an invitation to thwart the president's power to nominate."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on District Court Nominee Jeff Mateer
(Democrat - California) 09/20/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in response to reports that Jeff Mateer, President Trump’s nominee to the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, gave a speech where he defended conversion therapy, said transgender children were part of “Satan’s plan” and suggested same-sex marriage could lead to bestiality and polygamy: “Jeff Mateer has expressed reprehensible views about LGBT Americans. There’s no question these views cast serious doubt on his ability to fairly enforce federal law and treat people impartially, a subject committee Democrats will be sure to tackle at his nomination hearing.”

Sen. Gardner Introduces Justice Allison Eid at Confirmation Hearing
(Republican - Colorado) 09/20/17
"I look forward to working with this committee and all of our colleagues to confirm Justice Eid to the Tenth Circuit."

Sen. Coons on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/20/17
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider that the blue slip process has historically been "followed by members of both parties" and "ensures senators are consulted regarding nominees for seats from their home states." "Judges are appointed with lifetime tenure, so it is critical that senators have the ability to secure judges for their home states that are qualified for their positions," Coons said. "This isn't a partisan issue, either — this allows Republican senators to prevent Democratic presidents from confirming unqualified or inappropriate judges for their home states, and vice versa," he continued. "The blue slip process encourages bipartisanship, too, and it increases the chances of consensus candidates. Ending the blue slip process would diminish the ability of senators to provide input based on the local needs of their states, making it increasingly difficult for the Judiciary Committee to function in a bipartisan way."

Sen. Schumer on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - New York) 09/20/17
“Now we have the circuit court, and the blue slip has always been recognized. I will be meeting with Senator McConnell, Senator Grassley, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, to make the case to hold the blue slips.”

Sen. Whitehouse on home-state Senator blue slips
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 09/20/17
Pointing to past statements from McConnell and other Republicans, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Judiciary Committee member, told Business Insider in a statement that the practice "ensures that home-state senators and the people they represent can weigh in on the judges who will serve them." "Republicans, Leader McConnell and Chairman Grassley among them, have taken advantage of this tradition for decades," Whitehouse said. "People who claim to be Senate institutionalists should not engage in wholesale destruction of Senate traditions just for immediate partisan advantage."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee: Respect Prerogative of Home-State Senators; President Obama nominated Justice Hughes. Sens. McConnell and Paul did not return their blue slips, and Justice Hughes never received a hearing.
(Democrat - California) 09/19/17
Letter to the Editor: The editorial board completely discounts the history of the blue slip, which requires both home-state senators to sign off on judicial nominees from their state ("The Al Franken Standard," Sept. 13). Here are the facts: In 2016 alone, President Obama's nominations of Judge Abdul Kallon for the 11th Circuit, Justice Myra Selby for the Seventh Circuit, Rebecca Haywood for the Third Circuit and Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes for the Sixth Circuit did not move forward because they didn't receive two blue slips. Trump nominees have been confirmed to two of these vacancies, and nominees for the two other vacancies are pending. Consider the specifics of the Sixth Circuit vacancy in Kentucky: In March 2016, after the vacancy had been open for almost 1,000 days, President Obama nominated Justice Hughes. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul did not return their blue slips, and Justice Hughes never received a hearing. Their prerogative as home-state senators was honored, and the prerogative of home-state senators should continue to be honored. The editorial board was silent when these highly qualified nominees were blocked ....

Sen. Cornyn on home-state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Republican - Texas) 09/14/17
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said it could be reasonable to do away with the tradition “on a case by case basis.” Cornyn specifically pointed to Franken’s decision to block Straus not because of concerns about his qualifications for the job, but because of the legal theory to which he subscribes. “I think it’s good to have consultation and for the White House to be required to work with senators of both parties on nominees, but where a senator admits that the nominee is qualified, but simply disagrees with the judge’s judicial philosophy I think that’s an inadequate reason to block him,” Cornyn told Courthouse News.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley on Stephen Schwartz Court of Federal Claims nomination at Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Republican - Iowa) 09/14/17
I understand there may be concern that he hasn’t practiced in front of the Court of Federal Claims. However, he has vast experience litigating matters that regularly come before the Court, including Takings Clause Issues and claims under the Administrative Procedure Act. Mr. Schwartz has also been involved in cases involving so-called “hot button political topics.” Of course, he was representing clients in these matters and the Committee has a long-standing practice of not assuming client interests are the same as their attorney’s personal beliefs.

Sen. Grassley undecided on how to resolve ‘blue slip’ judicial holdups
(Republican - Iowa) 09/14/17
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley said Thursday he hasn’t decided whether to disregard the chamber’s blue slip tradition and push through one of President Trump’s appeals court picks over the objections of a home-state Democrat. “You need to ask me in a month,” he told The Washington Times.

Sen. Donnelly on Amy Barrett's Circuit Court nomination
(Democrat - Indiana) 09/14/17
In a statement, he said he would have “steered clear of lines of questioning that seemed to focus on Professor Barrett’s faith.” He also supports Barrett’s nomination and previously interviewed her about “her qualifications, and understanding of the law.” “I’m a Catholic — my faith has always been an important part of my life — and I believe someone can be a person of faith and at the same time uphold the law and our Constitution on the federal bench,” Donnelly said.

Sen. Heitkamp Announces U.S. Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Judge Erickson to Serve on 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - North Dakota) 09/14/17
“In times when partisanship can have too strong of a pull, it’s encouraging when both sides of the aisle can come together in unified agreement on the qualifications and integrity of an individual who has been nominated for one of the most prestigious and important legal jobs,” said Heitkamp. “By unanimously approving Judge Ralph Erickson – who for years has been lauded by both Republicans and Democrats in North Dakota – my colleagues are not just filling a seat on a federal bench, they are ensuring that the people who stand before the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will be served by a highly regarded jurist who has empathy for those who come before him and their circumstances. Throughout his career, Judge Erickson has shown an understanding of Indian law and a respect for tribal sovereignty in his opinions – a critical qualification for any judge sitting on the Eighth Circuit. It’s my hope that the full U.S. Senate works quickly to vote in kind with this Committee so Judge Erickson can begin the important work of serving the Eighth Circuit.”

Sen. Blumenthal on home-state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Connecticut) 09/14/17
“I have not detected any groundswell of support to do away with it,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview Thursday.

(Republican - North Dakota) 09/14/17
“The Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved Judge Erickson’s nomination to serve on the 8th Circuit,” said Hoeven. “With a strong judicial record that shows his deep respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, Judge Erickson is an excellent choice for the second highest court in the United States. We expect his nomination to come before the full Senate soon and look forward to his confirmation.”

Sen. McConnell on home-state Senator blue slips [which he used to block a hearing on Obama Circuit Court nominee Justice Lisabeth Hughes]
(Republican - Kentucky) 09/13/17
“My personal view is that the blue slip, with regard to circuit court appointments, ought to simply be a notification of how you’re going to vote, not the opportunity to blackball,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview with The New York Times for “The New Washington” podcast. He said he favored retaining the blue slip authority for lower-level district court judges.

Sen. Markey on underrepresentation of women in our federal judiciary
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 09/13/17
“The underrepresentation of women in our federal judiciary is a longstanding problem that President Trump is ignoring with his slate of nominees," Senator Markey said in a statement. "Women and people of color bring unique perspectives on issues ranging from criminal justice to affirmative action to reproductive rights, and our federal judges and U.S. Attorneys should reflect that diversity.”

Sen. Grassley spokesman on blue slips
(Republican - Iowa) 09/13/17
“The blue slip consultation process typically grants the President greater deference on circuit court nominees than at the district level,” Taylor Foy, a Judiciary Committee spokesman for Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said in a statement. But, he added, just because the blue slip process isn’t absolute for appeals court nominees, it doesn’t mean senators shouldn’t still be consulted. “The blue slip process was always intended to ensure consultation, and Grassley fully expects senators to continue to abide by that tradition,” Foy said.

Sen. Schumer on home state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - New York) 09/13/17
With the conflict escalating, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has requested a meeting with Mr. McConnell and the top Republican and Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee to dissuade Republicans from weakening the blue slip. “Getting rid of the blue slip would be a mistake,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. He said he would argue to Mr. McConnell and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that since majority control of the Senate has been in flux in recent years, members of both parties should remember that they could find themselves back in the minority. “Preserving some of the minority’s power in the Senate has broad support because every one of us knows we’re probably going to be in some of each,” Mr. Schumer said.

Sen. Bennet on blue slip for Allison Eid 10th Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Colorado) 09/08/17
“The blue slip has been submitted, but that’s not a sign of support,” a spokesperson for Bennet said. “He hasn’t weighed in, but she meets the minimum requirements for the position.”

NM Sens. on judicial selection
(Democrat - New Mexico) 09/08/17
Several members of the delegation declined to comment last week on the candidates or on whether they have concerns about Levi’s New Mexico experience. “The New Mexico delegation continues to work together to identify and recommend qualified New Mexicans for presidential appointments, as it did with the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal nominations,” said Sens. Udall and Martin Heinrich – both Democrats – and Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, in a joint statement.

Sen. McConnell Statement on Nomination of Rebecca Grady Jennings of Kentucky to Serve on U.S. District Court
(Republican - Kentucky) 09/07/17
“President Trump made another impressive selection by nominating Rebecca Grady Jennings, of Louisville, to serve as a district judge for the Western District of Kentucky. Rebecca is an award-winning litigator with a deep knowledge of the law and her community. She will use her skills to serve the people of Kentucky well on the federal bench, and I look forward to the Senate confirming her nomination.”

Norton Criticizes Trump Administration for Continuing to Ignore D.C. on Judicial Nominations, Virginia Resident Nominated
(Democrat - District of Columbia) 09/07/17
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sharply criticized the Trump administration for its continued refusal to consult with her on nominations for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the administration today nominated Matthew Spencer Petersen, of Virginia, to serve as a judge. Norton will urge Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to question Petersen on whether he intends to reside in the District during his tenure, as she has done for previous Trump administration nominees. “Seven months into his presidency, the Trump administration continues to ignore and disrespect District residents by refusing to consult with us on nominations,” Norton said. “We demand a say, like residents of states, on those who will serve in our jurisdiction.”

Sen. Moran Applauds Nomination of John Broomes to be Federal District Court Judge for Kansas
(Republican - Kansas) 09/07/17
"I urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to swiftly act on his nomination so the full Senate can quickly confirm Mr. Broomes.”

Sens. Wyden & Merkley letter to White House Counsel
(Democrat - Oregon) 09/07/17
“As you are aware, in May we wrote you to explain Oregon’s long bipartisan tradition of working together to identify the most qualified candidates for judicial vacancies, ... “You have demonstrated that you were only interested in our input if we were willing to preapprove your preferred nominee... The judicial selection process is not a rubber stamp, and the insinuation that our offices were purposefully delaying the process is an indication of the partisanship with which you are pursing this nomination.”

Senators Isakson, Perdue Comment On Georgia Federal Judge Nominees: Branch nominated to 11th Circuit, Baker to Southern District
(Republican - Georgia) 09/07/17
“I applaud the president’s choices and look forward to working with these excellent judges as the confirmation process moves forward in the Senate,” said Senator Isakson. “Once again President Trump has nominated two impressive Georgians to fill judicial vacancies in Georgia,” said Senator Perdue. “I look forward to working through the Senate confirmation process with Lisa Branch on her nomination to a Georgia-based seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Stan Baker on his nomination to be a judge in the Southern District of Georgia.”

Sen. Grassley: Hearings with Multiple Circuit Court Nominees Is Nothing New
(Republican - Iowa) 09/06/17
"I understand there is some concern with having two Circuit Court nominees on the hearing agenda. So, I want to take a moment to explain why these nominees are on today’s hearing. When the Majority Leader extended the Senate’s schedule into August, we scheduled a nominations hearing to consider Professor Barrett’s nomination for August 9th. That hearing was postponed when the Senate went into recess a week earlier than previously scheduled. So, I decided to make up for the hearing we lost in August and to combine Professor Barrett’s August hearing with today’s hearing. Of course, I aim to be fair in the process and made sure the other side had ample time to review these nominees’ qualifications."