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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. McCain Floor Statement
(Republican - Arizona) 03/19/15
"[W]e were able to fill vacancies in the U.S. District Court of Arizona last year--effectively alleviating a judicial emergency. With tremendous bipartisan support of the nomination of Senator Flake and myself, we confirmed a diverse and historic slate of six nominees which included an Hispanic, an African American, and the first Native American woman ever to serve on the Federal bench. But their race had nothing to do with their successful confirmations, just as the race of Ms. Lynch should have no impact on her consideration in this body. Those six judges were approved by this body because each of them had shown a commitment to justice, public service, and the people of Arizona. Each had also demonstrated the judicial temperament and the professional demeanor necessary to serve with integrity.”

(Democrat - Hawaii) 03/16/15
“Hawaii is home to some of the most diverse and brilliant legal minds in the country, and that is what our judiciary should reflect,” said Senator Schatz. “This balanced commission will begin a process that will help us put forward well-qualified candidates to fill this important vacancy. I look forward to working with the Commission members and President Obama to make sure our next District Court Judge will be a fitting replacement for Chief Judge Mollway.” “This group of esteemed individuals carries with them a unique set of backgrounds and experiences that represent the diversity of our great state,” said Senator Hirono. “I look forward to their process and their eventual decision on candidates to replace the Honorable Judge Susan Mollway. Hawaii needs a full, active bench of four judges and I will work closely with my colleagues in the Senate to confirm whomever the President ultimately selects.”

Sen. Feinstein on Judicial Conference renewed recognition of need for many more Eastern District of California judgeships
(Democrat - California) 03/13/15
“The caseload in the Eastern District is nearly twice the national average, which hurts all parties with business before the court, including the public and federal prosecutors,” Feinstein said. “It is welcome news that the Judicial Conference has again recognized the need for many new permanent judgeships in the Eastern District. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate and House to get that done.”

[Toomey] Senators aim to seat Erie federal judge in 2015
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 02/21/15
"I have every expectation that Senators Casey and Toomey will work in a bipartisan fashion with the White House to agree on nominees for the Western District of Pennsylvania, including Erie, during this calendar year," said Alex Miller, a Casey spokesman. "Senator Casey believes that it's critical to continue the bipartisan process that has successfully placed 14 highly qualified nominees on the federal district court bench in Pennsylvania since 2011." Toomey spokeswoman E.R. Anderson concurred. She also recalled that the two senators have worked together to confirm 14 judges for Pennsylvania. "While they both look forward to successfully moving more nominees this year, they generally do not discuss where things stand in the middle of the process," she said.

[Casey] PA Senators aim to seat Erie federal judge in 2015
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 02/21/15
"I have every expectation that Senators Casey and Toomey will work in a bipartisan fashion with the White House to agree on nominees for the Western District of Pennsylvania, including Erie, during this calendar year," said Alex Miller, a Casey spokesman. "Senator Casey believes that it's critical to continue the bipartisan process that has successfully placed 14 highly qualified nominees on the federal district court bench in Pennsylvania since 2011."

Sen. Cornyn on Judiciary Committee delayed votes on three Texas judicial nominees
(Republican - Texas) 02/12/15
All three Texas judges were well-received in a recent Judiciary Committee hearing, adding to the frustration expressed by some Democrats Thursday over the continued delays. Cornyn, however, predicted Wednesday that the three Texans will clear the Judiciary Committee by the end of the month, setting the stage for a floor vote in the Senate. “My expectation is these three Texas judges will be confirmed rather expeditiously,” Cornyn said.

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/12/15
"The four judicial nominees listed on today’s agenda have the distinction of both of their home state Senators sitting on this Committee. Two of the Texas nominees will fill judicial emergency vacancies. I hope the Senators from Texas and Utah have been able to convince their Republican colleagues that there is no good reason for these nominees to be held over. We should vote them out today."

(Republican - Texas) 01/30/15
This panel, known as the Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, will review applications, interview candidates, and make recommendations to the Senators. The vacancies are in the Northern (Lubbock) and Southern (Corpus Christi) Districts. "Texans deserve able, fair, and independent jurists on the bench, and as a former judge, I encourage all interested candidates to step up to the plate and submit an application," said Sen. Cornyn. "The FJEC selection process ensures Texans have the best, most qualified judges and prosecutors defending their rights in court," said Sen. Cruz. "Texas is blessed with many exceptional candidates with a deep respect for the rule of law, and I encourage them to pursue these important judicial positions."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley on judicial nominations
(Republican - Iowa) 01/28/15
Sen. Grassley "says the public shouldn’t expect a discernible difference in how he runs the committee than when a Democrat was at the helm. The laborious process of setting hearings for a backlog of federal judicial vacancies will continue, but “it’s a story you can tell almost every year,” he claims. ... “What’s anybody got anything to complain about? If they got something to complain about, complain to the president, because he didn’t send more up,” Grassley says. “It’s a slow process for the White House counsel, just like it’s a slow process for us.”"

Sen. Cornyn on Texas federal judicial vacancies
(Republican - Texas) 01/23/15
"I'm concerned about the length of many judicial vacancies in Texas and will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Senate, in the Texas congressional delegation, and also with the White House to move this process along," Cornyn told the [Houston] Chronicle. "Through our bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, Senator Cruz and I have recommended several excellent candidates for these vacancies, whom the president has nominated, and we will continue pushing for their swift confirmation."

Sen. Cantwell Floor statement opposing unsuccessful amendment
(Democrat - Washington) 01/21/15
"This amendment makes it very difficult for citizens to retain counsel, particularly related to the Endangered Species Act. I don't know why we would be handicapping legal cases just because they deal with the environment. ... the ESA was signed into law in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon and was intentionally drafted to manage and to engage citizens in the protection of endangered species.... the Lee amendment would weaken the prevailing citizen's request for reimbursement under an Endangered Species Act--and narrow those restrictions of equal access to justice. This is because the cap on fees would include the Equal Access to Justice Act, which often falls well below the market-based rate for attorneys. Basically, what the Lee amendment does is say you will not be able to recap on the attorneys' fees at the cost of doing business, and their hope is that citizens will then not have representation before the courts on issues such as clean air, clean water, and other environmental issues."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Hearing On Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/21/15
"I am encouraged that the first hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee under the helm of Chairman Grassley is on judicial nominations. I look forward to working with him throughout the 114th Congress to fill vacancies on our federal courts to ensure that our co-equal branch of government is working at full strength.... four judicial nominees whom we could have considered last year if their home state Republican Senators had agreed. Two of the Texas nominees— Judge Alfred Bennett and Judge Jose Rolando Olvera, Jr.—are nominated to fill judicial emergency vacancies. The third Texas nominee, Judge George C. Hanks, Jr., is nominated to fill a vacancy that has been open for more than seven months and the Utah nominee, Justice Jill N. Parrish, will fill a vacancy that has been open for more than a year. I am pleased that both Texas and both Utah Senators have now consented and these nominees are finally getting a hearing today. All four of the judicial nominees before us today have strong qualifications along with the support of their Republican home state senators."

Senator Warren and Senator Markey Re-Convene the Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Judicial Nominations to Consider Boston Vacancy
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 01/21/15
"Candidates interested in applying for a U.S. District Court nomination must submit their applications to the Advisory Committee by February 23, 2015."

Senator Coons named top Democrat on financial services appropriations subcommittee
(Democrat - Delaware) 01/09/15
U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) will be the ranking member — the top Democrat — on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government in the 114th Congress. ... The Subcommittee also oversees funding for the entire federal judiciary. “Equal representation under the law is one of our nation’s bedrock values,” Senator Coons said. “Yet too often we don’t provide our judiciary with the funding or investment necessary to ensure justice is administered fairly, equally, and swiftly. It’s critical that Congress does more to value the role our judiciary plays in our democracy, and as ranking member, I’m going to do everything I can to ensure Congress dedicates the resources that America’s justice system requires.” Senator Coons is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has authorizing responsibility for the federal bench."

Sen. Reid Remarks On Opening of 114th Congress
(Democrat - Nevada) 01/07/15
"And while we worked to improve the economy without Republicans’ help, we also worked to fulfill our constitutional obligation to offer advice and consent on Presidential nominations. Just last Congress we confirmed 132 judges – the most since the Carter Administration. Overall, we confirmed 611 of the President’s nominees last Congress in spite of Republican opposition. As we speak, we have an Attorney General and a Secretary of Defense waiting to be confirmed. I remind everybody that last Congress the Republicans mounted an unprecedented filibuster of the nominee for Secretary of Defense. Imagine what we could do if we worked together. I challenge my friend, the Majority Leader, to change course and work with Senate Democrats in confirming the President’s nominees in the 114th Congress. Working together, we can easily meet and surpass last Congress’ benchmark of 611 confirmations."

New Judiciary Chairman Grassley on Committee priorities
(Republican - Iowa) 01/07/15
JUDGE CONFIRMATIONS: "We're going to start out with hearings, even before we get to the attorney general, on judges that are left over from last time," Grassley said.

Sen. Tom Udall Offers Rules Reform Proposal to Fix the Broken Senate
(Democrat - New Mexico) 01/06/15
"We changed the rules to prevent the minority from abusing the rules and obstructing scores of qualified nominees for judicial and executive appointments. ... I believe that drastic step was unfortunate. But it was also necessary. The minority has a right to voice objections-but not to abuse the rules to obstruct justice by preventing judges from being confirmed or by preventing the president from getting his team in place. By changing the rules, the 113th Senate was able to confirm 96 judges. In fact, it confirmed more judges than any modern Congress since 1980."

Sen. Carper on Senate failure to fill D.C. local court vacancies
(Democrat - Delaware) 12/17/14
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate committee that oversees D.C. affairs, said in a statement on Wednesday that the Senate’s failure to fill the Superior Court vacancies “simply isn’t fair to District residents and those nominees willing to serve and it’s an injustice that the Senate failed to address this session.” Carper in November criticized the Senate's delay in voting on Superior Court nominees. In his statement on Wednesday he urged his colleagues to “right this wrong” when the new session began next year.

Reid: Senate Confirmed Over 130 Judicial Nominations, The Most In 33 Years
(Democrat - Nevada) 12/17/14
“Throughout the 113th Congress, Senate Democrats have focused on confirming well-qualified judicial nominees to relieve the judge shortage plaguing our nation’s justice system. Despite unprecedented obstruction, today’s statistics show that Senate Democrats were able to overcome political gridlock and confirm the highest number of district and circuit court judges in a single Congress in over thirty years. These talented nominees had impressive backgrounds and experiences, and their confirmations will bring us one step closer to a judiciary that reflects the diversity of our nation.”

Sen. Harkin on belated Senate judicial confirmations
(Democrat - Iowa) 12/16/14
"Republicans have just slow-walked judicial nominations," said Harkin. "What we're doing is what we should have done the last couple of years."

Sen. Feinstein Announces Confirmation of Haywood Gilliam as District Judge
(Democrat - California) 12/16/14
“Haywood Gilliam has an outstanding record as a federal prosecutor in the Northern District and a private practitioner,” said Senator Feinstein. “He began his career as a law clerk to Judge Thelton Henderson on this same court, and I am confident he will serve the Northern District with great distinction for many years to come.” The Northern District, which frequently hears major technology cases, has a substantial caseload. According to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the court has averaged 632 weighted filings per judgeship over the past four years, which is 20 percent above the average caseload and well above the threshold for a “judicial emergency.” Criminal felony cases take 47 percent longer to complete than the national average, and civil cases take 19 percent longer than the national average to go to trial.

Sen. Grassley Floor Statement on lame duck confirmations of judges
(Republican - Iowa) 12/13/14
"[W]e do confirm judges during a lameduck if those judges were reported to the floor before the election. What we typically don't do is report judges out of committee during a lameduck and then also confirm them that same year ... In 2002, 20 judges were confirmed during the lameduck, but 18 of those judges had been reported out of committee before the midterm election. Only two of those judges were reported during the lameduck, and that was because these two judges waited for more than a year for a hearing."

Senator Leahy: Judiciary Committee Sends Three Judicial Nominees To Full Senate
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/11/14
“It is imperative for the Senate to continue to work on nominations. With cooperation there is still time to confirm these non-controversial nominees before we adjourn for the year,” Leahy said. “I hope that at the very least, the Texas senators will work to get consent on their side of the aisle to confirm the three district court nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies pending on the Executive Calendar,” Leahy said. “These Texas nominees were nominated more than five months ago and reported out on unanimous voice vote. There is no objection on my side of the aisle to confirming them today.”

Senate Majority Leader Reid on pending judicial nominees
(Democrat - Nevada) 12/10/14
"Maybe we’ll have to work the weekend and maybe even work next week. I know that’s tough duty for everybody, but we may have to do that,” Reid said. “We have a number of nominations we’re going to do … we have nine judges left. We’re going to do those.”

Sens. [Tom] Udall, Merkley Urge McConnell to Continue Rules Reform to Fix Broken Senate
(Democrat - Oregon, New Mexico) 12/09/14
"We are greatly encouraged by reports that the next majority is leaning towards retaining the most recent change lowering the cloture threshold for most nominees," the senators wrote. "This change has allowed critical executive and judicial vacancies to be filled in a more timely fashion in line with long standing Senate traditions, as well as restored the constitutional majority standard for advice and consent."

Sen. Toomey Floor Statement for Leeson district court nomination
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 12/04/14
"I wish to start by thanking Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley for facilitating and moving his candidacy through the process, through the committee, and Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, our respective leaders, for bringing the nomination to the Senate floor. I appreciate that cooperation. I should also point out that I am very grateful for the cooperation of my colleague Senator Casey. Senator Casey and I have spent a lot of time and energy making sure we fill the vacancies that occur on the Federal bench in Pennsylvania with absolutely the most qualified, terrific Pennsylvanians, and we have been blessed that so many wonderful Pennsylvanians have offered to serve in this role, to make this sacrifice for public service. In the 4 years I have been in the Senate, Senator Casey and I have confirmed 13 district judges. We placed a judge in the Reading courthouse in Berks County, which had been vacant for 3 years; placed a judge in the Easton courthouse, which had been vacant for 10 years; and when Mr. Leeson is hopefully confirmed this afternoon, that will bring our total to 14."

Toomey: Senators Casey, Toomey Announce Confirmation of Joseph Leeson to PA Eastern District Court
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 12/04/14
"I am thrilled that Jay Leeson will soon join Judge James Knoll Gardner in Allentown as a district court judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania," said Senator Toomey. "For the first time, the Allentown courthouse will have two sitting federal district court judges. This is a great day for the city, and I am confident that Mr. Leeson will excel on the federal bench. I will continue working with Senator Casey to recommend well-qualified judges to serve the people of Pennsylvania." In the last three and a half years, Senators Casey and Toomey have worked together, in a bipartisan fashion, to recommend to the President accomplished jurists of high ability and integrity to preside in the federal courts of Pennsylvania. With Mr. Leeson, they have now confirmed 14 Pennsylvania district court judges to the federal bench.

(Republican - Pennsylvania) 12/03/14
"I rise to offer my support as well to the two nominees to serve as judges for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jerry Pappert and Mark Kearney ... Let me start by thanking Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley for facilitating this process and handling this at the committee level, and I want to thank Leader Reid and Leader McConnell for bringing these nominees to the Senate floor. ... it has been a pleasure to work with Senator Casey. In the 4 years I have been in the Senate, we have confirmed 11 district court judges. ... that number will rise to 13 members of the Federal bench from Pennsylvania in just the past 4 years. We have one additional district court nominee, Joseph Leeson, awaiting a vote from the full Senate, and I am looking at a speedy confirmation of his candidacy as well. Before I speak on the two nominees before us this evening, I want to briefly note how pleased I was that on November 20 the Senate confirmed Wendy Beetlestone to serve on the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania."

UPDATED: Republican Home-State Senators Support Judicial Nominees
(Republican - Utah, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, North Carolina) 12/03/14
Links and excerpts for Republican home-state senator support of judicial nominees during Senate's lame duck session and history of prior lame duck confirmations.

Senate Majority Leader Reid on Floor Agenda
(Democrat - Nevada) 12/01/14
"We have a number of vitally important nominations that must be confirmed."