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Senator Statements

 

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Sen. Leahy statement On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/18/14
"Senate Republicans are refusing to allow confirmation votes on the more than 20 judicial nominees who will now be stuck in limbo for months. There is no good reason why the Senate cannot confirm these nominees before the recess other than wholesale obstruction of a co-equal branch of government’s nominees. The Senate Republicans’ baseless obstruction includes blocking from consideration nominations made to their home states....we have reduced the vacancies on our Federal courts from 92 to 59, but ... The Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships ... There remain 59 vacancies on the Federal bench – far more than the 45 vacancies at this point during the Bush administration. There are an additional 25 announced future judicial vacancies ... , we must return to session as soon as possible after the elections in November to complete our important work. The American people deserve courts capable of providing access to swift justice, not empty courtrooms and delays."

Sen. Toomey statement on Judiciary Committee approval of PA judicial nominees
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 09/18/14
"I applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee approving the nominations of Wendy Beetlestone, Mark Kearney, Jerry Pappert, and Jay Leeson to be district court judges in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania," Toomey said in a statement. "These nominees possess a wealth of legal experience based on their work in both the public and private sectors," he said. "I am confident that they will excel as federal judges, and I will continue working with Sen. Casey to get these outstanding nominations confirmed by the Senate as soon as possible." There is no timetable on when the nominations will go before the full Senate for a vote, a Toomey spokesman said Thursday. Toomey and Casey previously heralded Leeson's nomination as an important move toward bringing the Valley's two federal courts back to a much needed, full complement of judges.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy on Committee approval of judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/18/14
Nine nominees to fill vacancies on our Federal district courts and one nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims were also reported on Thursday. Those nominees now join the seven district court and five U.S. Court of Federal Claims nominees awaiting confirmation by the full Senate. There are currently 59 judicial vacancies throughout the country, and Leahy urged the Senate to approve the pending nominees who could fill some of those seats today.

Sen. Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/11/14
"Today, we have three bipartisan bills on the agenda. We also have 10 judicial nominees and one executive nominee, each who have the support of their home state senators. Given the short work period, I hope we can move forward on these bipartisan matters without delay."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/08/14
"Today we will finally vote on the confirmation of Jill Pryor of Georgia to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Her nomination has been pending in the Senate since February 2012—more than two and a half years"

Sen. Merkley on rules reform and confirming judges
(Democrat - Oregon) 08/22/14
“Because of the rules change we’ve made a big difference on issues to working-class families,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who teamed with Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to advocate rules reform. “I feel good about that. I feel very good about roughly the doubling of pace that we’ve been confirming judges. I’ve felt that the Republican strategy was trying to pack the courts ideologically by trying to prevent President Barack Obama to have votes on judges.”

Sen. Feinstein: Nomination of Haywood Gilliam to Northern California District Court
(Democrat - California) 08/18/14
“I recommended Haywood Gilliam to the president for this important position,” Feinstein said. “Mr. Gilliam’s broad and impressive legal experience, ranging from federal prosecutor to a partner at a major law firm, will be a strong addition to the federal bench in northern California. I am confident he will serve with great distinction.” ... Filling this position is a priority because the Northern District of California has a significant caseload. The court has averaged more than 640 weighted filings per authorized judgeship – 22 percent above the national average and well over the threshold set by the Judicial Conference of the United States for a “judicial emergency.” Since 2011, the time for a civil case to get to trial has risen by 61 percent – from 21.2 months to 34.2 months.

Sen. Patrick Leahy statement [on judicial nominees, delays, filibusters, confirmations, need to create judgeships, Texas and other vacancies]
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/31/14
"[F]or the fifth year in a row, more than a dozen qualified, consensus judicial nominees pending before the full Senate will remain on the Executive Calendar during the August recess. ... We could be voting today to confirm 13 nominees to serve on our Federal courts, 12 of whom were reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee by unanimous voice vote. ... Since the beginning of this year, we have reduced the vacancies on our Federal courts by over a third, from 92 to 57, and reduced the number of judicial emergency vacancies by nearly half, from 37 to 19. ... In addition to the 57 current vacancies, the Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships in some of America's judicial districts and circuits with the most burdensome caseloads. Last year, Senator Coons and I introduced the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 to enact these recommendations into law. ...There remain 57 vacancies on the Federal bench--far more than the 42 vacancies at this point during the Bush administration. There are an additional 24 announced future vacancies ... The incredible burden facing Federal courts in Texas is understandable with its nine current district court vacancies--more than any other State. ...I also hope that the Texas Senators will continue to work with the administration on nominees to fill the six other current district vacancies in their State as well as the four known future district court vacancies."

Sen. Chambliss Floor Statement in support of Judge Julie Carnes 11th Circuit nomination
(Republican - Georgia) 07/21/14
"It is difficult to imagine a more qualified circuit court nominee than Julie Carnes. The Senate Judiciary Committee appears to share my confidence. She was reported out by voice vote without a single objection to her nomination. Moreover, this is a seat that needs to be filled, and it needs to be filled quickly. The 11th Circuit is the third busiest circuit in the country. Senator Isakson and I have been working very closely with the White House to address this vacancy since it came on 2 years ago. Julie Carnes is my dear friend. I have known her for many years. She is the consummate trial court judge, receiving accolades from every single sector of the bar that regularly appears before her. Senator Isakson and I worked very closely with the President, as he indicated. We also worked with Senator Leahy and Senator Grassley and Kathy Ruemmler, the White House counsel, whom I particularly commend, someone who was very persistent. She was very professional in all of her dealings with us. It was a real pleasure to work with the White House securing a number of nominees, the first of which to come to this floor for confirmation is Judge Julie Carnes."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Floor Statement: WASTING TIME
(Democrat - Nevada) 07/07/14
"[T]he last 2 months the Senate has been in session--Senate Republicans have forced us to waste almost 10 days, more than half the time we have been in session. They have wasted 236 hours in order to slow the confirmation of President Obama's nominations--236 hours. Of those 236 hours, Senate Republicans have used 5 hours to actually come to the Senate floor and debate the qualifications of these nominees. The rest of the time we sit, as the viewing public sees, in these quorum calls, where we do nothing. For every hour they have debated these nominations, the Senate Republicans have wasted 46 hours just killing time. ... To further highlight the absurdity of their obstruction, the Republicans have voted overwhelmingly to confirm most all of these same nominees they have obstructed and filibustered. So far this year Republicans have blocked immediate confirmation of 22 nominations they later voted unanimously to confirm."

Sen. Toomey Floor Statement: KRAUSE NOMINATION
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 06/26/14
"From my point of view, this is part of an ongoing effort I have with Senator Casey, my colleague from Pennsylvania--a bipartisan collaboration to make sure we are filling vacancies as they occur, as quickly as we responsibly can, to make sure we have as close to a full complement of Federal judges as we possibly can.... There are four additional candidates, recently nominated by the President at the recommendation of Senator Casey and myself, and I am very hopeful the Senate will confirm all four of them later this year. We still have remaining vacancies, and we are working on filling those vacancies as well, but we are making progress, and it is in this spirit of bipartisan cooperation in filling vacancies on the Federal court that Senator Casey and I are both enthusiastically supporting the nomination of Ms. Krause to the Third Circuit."

Sen. Reid Statement On Supreme Court Decision In National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning
(Democrat - Nevada) 06/26/14
“Since President Obama took office, Senate Republicans have done everything possible to deny qualified nominees from receiving a fair up-or-down vote. President Obama did the right thing when he made these appointments on behalf of American workers. The National Labor Relations Board had ceased to function due to Senate Republican obstruction of these three qualified nominees, threatening the livelihood and safety of working men and women throughout the country. More than anything, today’s Supreme Court ruling underscores the importance of the rules reform Senate Democrats enacted last November. Without that reform and with today’s ruling, a small but vocal minority would have more power than ever to block qualified nominees from getting a simple up-or-down vote on the floor. Since the November reform the Senate has been confirming qualified nominees at a steady pace and today’s ruling will have no effect on our ability to continue ensuring that qualified nominees receive an up-or-down vote.”

Sen. Majority Leader Reid Floor Statement: Nominations
(Democrat - Nevada) 06/24/14
“[I]t is unfortunate that we still have scores and scores of good men and women on the Executive Calendar waiting to be confirmed. The delay by the Republicans is untoward. It has never happened before, and we are working through these as quickly as we can. The judges only take an hour of postcloture time, but the nominations take 8 hours of postcloture time. We can yield back 4 hours, which we do almost every time, but these stalling tactics by the Republicans have added to our doing nothing here in the Senate not by hours or days or weeks but by months. It is so unfortunate. We have never had a situation such as this before. As everyone knows, we changed the rules as they related to judges, and thank goodness we did that. Justice can move forward in our country without the delay and obstruction that has taken place over the last number of years with Republicans holding up judges. We, through the chairman of the committee, have moved lots of judges. We now have four circuit court judges we have to move toward, and we will do that, even though each one of those takes 30 hours. We are nearly caught up with district court judges, which speaks well for the Judiciary Committee and the Senators who are forwarding names to the President for submission to the committee.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Crawford Nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/23/14
"Justice Crawford, like the three other nominees we will vote on today, has been nominated to fill an emergency vacancy. He is a qualified, uncontroversial nominee, with the full support of his home state Senators. He and the three other nominees deserve to be confirmed without delay. I thank the Majority Leader for bringing these nominations up for a vote, and urge Senators to vote to defeat these filibusters and get these nominees working for the American people in courthouses around the nation."

Sen. Leahy: SJC Approves 13 Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/19/14
"The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved 13 nominees to fill judicial vacancies ... Six of the nominees approved on Thursday would fill emergency vacancies, including two emergency vacancies on the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.... "I am proud once again to support the nomination of Ronnie White, an excellent nominee who has distinguished himself as a judge and attorney,” Leahy said. “The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police said ‘We can think of no finer or more worthy nominee,’ and I agree. Nearly 15 years after Ronnie White’s nomination was wrongly blocked by Senate Republicans, I hope that all Senators will stand on the right side of history and support his confirmation.”"

Sen. Leahy Statement [on Historic Judicial Nominations & Filibusters]
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/17/14
"The confirmation of these nominees will be historic milestones for diversity on the Federal bench. If confirmed, Judge Mendoza would be the first Latino to serve on the Federal bench in the Eastern District of Washington. The confirmation of Staci Yandle would make her the first African-American woman ever to serve as a Federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois, as well as the first openly gay Federal judge to serve in Illinois. And, if confirmed, Judge Gayles would be the first openly gay African-American man judge to ever serve on the Federal bench. It is important that the Federal bench reflects the diversity of the American people, and we should be proud of the progress we are making today.... With yesterday's cloture votes, the Senate has voted on cloture for judicial nominees 50 times so far this year. This is more than all the cloture votes on judicial nominees during the two preceding administrations combined. This level of partisanship is meritless, and only serves to weaken the Federal courts and the American justice system."

Sen. Leahy Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/10/14
"After today, we will have already voted 47 times for cloture in just the last 6 months. These votes do nothing to further what should be our collective goal of an efficient and fair justice system, accessible to all. I can only hope that Senate Republicans soon put an end to this obstruction.... After today, we will have already voted 47 times for cloture in just the last 6 months. These votes do nothing to further what should be our collective goal of an efficient and fair justice system, accessible to all. I can only hope that Senate Republicans soon put an end to this obstruction.... Mr. Boulware's ABA rating is higher than or on par with 33 of President Bush's nominees who were confirmed ... he will be the first African-American man to serve as a Federal judge in the District of Nevada.... There are seven additional judicial nominees reported by the Judiciary Committee currently pending on the Senate Executive Calendar. Five of these nominees are nominated to fill judicial emergency vacancies, and I hope the Senate will act quickly to confirm these nominations."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/04/14
"These nominees are not controversial and in past years would have been confirmed weeks, or even months, ago. Instead, Republicans continue to refuse to give consent for votes on any judicial nominee, irrespective of their qualifications or the support of home State Senators. As a result, yesterday the Senate was forced again to waste valuable time voting to end the unnecessary filibusters of three highly qualified nominees. The Senate has now voted to end the filibusters of 44 judicial nominees so far during 2014. It is every Senator's right to demand continued debate on any measure or nomination before this chamber. But I would say to any Senator who requires a cloture vote on a qualified, consensus nominee to at least speak about the nominee and not to obstruct for obstruction's sake.... there are 10 additional judicial nominees reported by the Judiciary Committee pending on the Senate Executive Calendar, including seven nominees who were reported unanimously. Six of the 10 judicial nominees that will be left pending after today's confirmation votes will fill judicial emergency vacancies in the District of Nevada, the Southern District of Illinois, and in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. I hope that the Senate moves quickly to confirm these nominees, and others."

Sen. Warren Floor Statement: MASTROIANNI CONFIRMATION
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 06/04/14
"Aside from the impressive qualifications of this candidate, the fact of Mark's nomination is particularly important because the seat he has been nominated to fill has been vacant for far too long--since U.S. District Court Judge Ponsor took senior status in 2011. The vacancy has strained the Federal judicial system in Western Massachusetts, causing cases to be postponed, forcing judges from Boston to travel to Springfield to hold hearings, and impeding the ability of citizens to get their day in court. Filling this vacancy as quickly as possible has been a top priority for me since I arrived in the Senate last year, and his confirmation will significantly improve the administration of justice in Western Massachusetts."

Sen. Leahy Posts Official Notice Of June 4 Confirmation Hearing For Vermont Chief Justice Crawford, Nominated For Vermont’s Upcoming District Court Vacancy
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/29/14
"The U.S. District Court in Vermont is at full strength with two active judges currently serving, but Judge William Sessions’ decision to take senior status will soon create a vacancy.... Leahy has called Justice Crawford “a fine jurist in the finest Vermont tradition.”"

SEN. McCAIN ON ARIZONA JUDICIAL NOMINEES
(Republican - Arizona) 05/14/14
"“The federal district court in Arizona has been under tremendous strain these past few years, and the confirmation of these six judges will be a great relief to an overburdened court, one which is consistently ranked as one of the top ten busiest in the country. Of the 13 authorized judgeships for this court, 6 are currently vacant. This, together with the large caseload, led the District of Arizona to be declared a ‘judicial emergency’ in 2011. This has created an untenable situation for the court in Arizona, and the confirmation of these nominees is critical to ensure that the administration of justice is timely and fair for the people of Arizona. “The slate of nominees before the Senate is the product of consensus, cooperation, and careful deliberation, selected with the help of a non-partisan judiciary evaluation commission. They saw overwhelming support in the Judiciary Committee ... “Diane Humetewa has an impressive legal background, ranging from work as prosecutor and an appellate court judge to the Hopi Nation to service as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Plus, hers is a truly historic nomination. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American woman to ever serve on the federal bench."

Chairman Leahy Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/13/14
"Some of these positions have remained vacant for far too long. For instance, the two Eleventh Circuit seats are judicial emergency vacancies, as are two of the Northern District of Georgia seats. Some press accounts have described six of these nominees as being a “package deal” that was negotiated between the Georgia Senators and the President. I have noted before that there is no “deal” negotiated with me as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee or with any of the other Senators. The constitutional responsibility of advice and consent resides with each individual Senator, and there is no such thing as a binding deal that negates each Senator’s responsibility to determine the fitness of a judicial nominee for a lifetime appointment. Nor should any Senator be making up their minds about nominees without allowing the process to run its course. ... I note that today’s slate of nominees includes five women – I cannot recall the last time when so many women were seated at the witness table. The President has many critics but I believe he has done an outstanding job increasing the diversity of our Federal bench during his tenure and I commend him for continuing to do so. From district court nominees to circuit court nominees and even to his two Supreme Court Justice nominees, this President has made it a priority to have our federal bench reflect the people it serves."

Sen. Chambliss introduces seven home-state district and circuit court nominees at their Judiciary Committee hearing
(Republican - Georgia) 05/13/14
"Each and every one of these individuals would be an asset to the federal bench no matter where they sat, but given the growing caseloads for judges on the Eleventh Circuit and on the Northern and Middle Districts, their confirmations are particularly important."

Sen. Tester Floor Statement on District Court & other INDIAN COUNTRY NOMINATIONS
(Democrat - Montana) 05/12/14
"[A]s chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, I rise in support of the nomination of three distinguished Native American leaders: Vince Logan, Keith Harper, and Diane Humetewa. These individuals have been nominated to positions that are crucial to Indian Country and to our Nation. It is our responsibility to make sure they can begin this challenging work.... in the case of these nominees, it is long past time to act. By acting on those nominees, this Congress, which has been criticized for not doing very much, can make a little bit of history....Diane Humetewa was nominated to serve as district court judge for the District of Arizona, with the strong support of her home State Senators, MCCAIN and FLAKE. Her nomination was reported favorably 3 months ago by the Judiciary Committee, though her nomination has been pending since September of 2013. She is a member of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona. That means, if confirmed, she would be the only Native American serving as a Federal judge . She would be the first Native American woman to ever serve on the Federal bench. Confirming these nominees during a time of such partisanship will send a strong signal to Indian Country. Whether it is overseeing our trust responsibilities, representing our Nation to the world, or delivering justice, these nominees will help our government function a little bit better and more efficiently. I ask my colleagues to join me in swiftly confirming these three outstanding nominees."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/08/14
"I am confident that once we proceed with Mr. Barron’s nomination that Senators will vote to confirm him. He is brilliant nominee who is currently a professor at Harvard Law School. He is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law, the separation of powers, administrative law, and federalism. He clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens has such high regard for Mr. Barron that the Justice attended his nomination hearing. ...Mr. Barron is truly an outstanding nominee and I hope all Senators will support his nomination when it comes up. Today, we will vote to end the filibusters of four other very highly qualified nominees."

WISCONSIN SENATORS APPLAUD CONFIRMATION OF JUDGE PETERSON
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 05/08/14
“Addressing vacant federal judgeships in Wisconsin has been a top priority for me since I was sworn in to the Senate last year,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to have worked with Senator Johnson to put in place a nonpartisan Federal Nominating Commission and a process for moving judicial nominations forward because the people of Wisconsin deserve to have experienced and qualified judges working for them. James Peterson will be an outstanding U.S. Federal District Judge and his experience, qualifications and expertise will serve the Western District of Wisconsin well."

Sen. Ron Johnson Floor Statement for James Peterson district court nomination
(Republican - Wisconsin) 05/08/14
"I am pleased to recommend to the Senate James D. Peterson to be the U.S. district judge for the Western District of Wisconsin.... Jim has my full support, and I am happy to recommend him to the Senate for swift confirmation. I would like to conclude by thanking my colleague Senator Baldwin for the bipartisan process that resulted in the selection of this well-qualified jurist who will serve Wisconsin's Western District well. The Western District is currently facing a judicial emergency. U.S. district judge Barbara Crabb has continued to serve on the bench despite retiring 4 years ago, and I sincerely appreciate her dedication in the State of Wisconsin during this vacancy."

Sen. Baldwin Floor Statement for James Peterson district court nomination
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 05/08/14
"I am proud to have worked with Senator Johnson to put in place a nonpartisan Federal Nominating Commission and a process for moving judicial nominations forward, because the people of Wisconsin deserve to have experienced and highly qualified judges working for them, and they deserve to have judicial vacancies filled on a timely basis. Addressing vacant Federal judgeships in Wisconsin has been a top priority of mine since I was sworn into the Senate last year. I thank Senator Johnson for working to find common ground with me on this very important issue for Wisconsin. Together, we believe James Peterson will be an outstanding Federal district judge, and his experience, qualifications, and expertise will serve the Western District of Wisconsin and our Nation very well.... Mr. Peterson 's confirmation today will end a vacancy that has lasted for more than 5 years and has been declared a judicial emergency."

Sen. Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/08/14
"There are four judicial nominations to fill emergency vacancies in Florida listed on the agenda. They were held over last week and I am glad that we can report them out today. They have the support of home state Senators Nelson and Rubio."

Senate Majority Leader Reid Floor Statement on moving judicial nominations
(Democrat - Nevada) 05/06/14
"With all this happy talk about how the Senate should operate--remember, we changed the rules. Why did we do that? Because we had scores of judges that we had to wait for them to give us permission to move to. We changed the rules. We don't in any way apologize to anybody for having changed the rules. This is where we are. Legislation is at a standstill, and we have on the books now 140 nominations that are held up. They have held everybody up. We get a few here and a few there. But the one thing I can't hold up any more are judges . We are moving on the judges. We are going to get the judges done."