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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


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Senator Statements

 

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Sens. Crapo, Risch Statement on Judicial Nomination Process
(Republican - Idaho) 04/30/15
“Several news outlets have inquired about the selection of a U.S. District Judge for Idaho. We want a confidential process and applicants have also requested a confidential process. Men and women, sitting judges and attorneys, are being interviewed. The process is ongoing. The White House will make the final selection with the Senate voting on confirmation of the nomination.”

Sen. Leahy, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Executive Business Meeting Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/30/15
"Unfortunately, there are no judicial nominees on today’s agenda. This is because this Committee has not held a hearing on a judicial nomination in more than seven weeks and we have several well qualified nominees waiting for a hearing. Five of the pending judicial nominees were nominated over five months ago, including three who will fill judicial emergency vacancies. Chairman Grassley noticed a nominations hearing for next week, and I hope it will include Luis Felipe Restrepo, a nominee from Pennsylvania for the Third Circuit. Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed by the Senate two years ago by voice vote to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. By all accounts he has done an outstanding job. He was nominated to the Third Circuit over five months ago with the support of Senators Casey and Toomey. In the time his nomination has been pending, the judgeship he will fill has become a “judicial emergency vacancy.” I hope this judicial emergency vacancy will be considered soon."

Sen. Grassley Press Conference on Senate Judiciary Committee Agenda
(Republican - Iowa) 04/27/15
VIDEO: judicial nominations from about 52:00 through 56:00

Senate Democrats on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont, Michigan, New York) 04/23/15
C-SPAN VIDEO: Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) held a news conference to urge Senate Republicans to begin confirming judicial nominees. They also spoke about Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general.

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/23/15
“I also hope we can report Kara Stoll to be a United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit and Roseann Ketchmark to be a United States District Judge for the Western District of Missouri. This committee has not held a hearing on single judicial nomination in more than six weeks and we have several well qualified nominees waiting for a hearing. I hope Chairman Grassley will soon schedule a nominations hearing so that states like California, New York and Pennsylvania will not have the long standing vacancies that the state of Texas has endured.”

Sen. Grassley Floor Statement: Nomination of George Hanks & General Judicial Progress
(Republican - Iowa) 04/20/15
"At the end of the day, when we include the 11 district court nominees who were confirmed at the end of last year, we are at about the same pace that the Democratically led Senate was in 2007 during the Bush administration."

Sen. Schumer on delay of district court and other nominees
(Democrat - New York) 04/20/15
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has done little to bring up nominations for a vote by the full Senate. That has Democrats accusing Republicans of slow-walking the nominations amid lingering anger over the nuclear option. “It’s appalling,” groused Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. “I mean, how many times are they just going to throw logs on the process of government? I mean, even district court judges, for lord’s sake.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/20/15
"Judge Hanks is just the second judicial nominee that we have voted to confirm more than 3 months into the 114th Congress. The slow trickle of confirmations that the new majority has allowed is undermining the functioning of our Federal courts and is hurting the American people. This past month, the Wall Street Journal wrote an alarming article about the backlog of civil cases in our Federal courts. ... First, the Senate should confirm every single one of the nine judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar without further delay. Besides Judge Hanks , there are two other Federal district court nominees pending on the Executive Calendar, both from States with two Republican home State Senators. Both of those nominees were reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously by voice vote. One of the nominees will fill a judicial emergency vacancy in Texas that has remained unfilled for more than 2 years. This type of neglect is unacceptable. In addition, there are five other nominees to the Court of Federal Claims and a nominee for the Court of International Trade. None of these nominees are controversial and they could easily be confirmed by a simple voice vote if Republicans would allow. After today's confirmation vote, there will be 53 vacancies on our Federal courts. But even if we filled every one of these vacancies, we still would have to address the growing needs of our co-equal branch of government that is struggling with heavy caseloads. Last month, the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, identified the need for adding 73 permanent judgeships, as well as converting 9 temporary district court judgeships to permanent status. The Senate should be working in a bipartisan manner to provide the Federal Judiciary with the resources it needs, including the addition of woefully-needed additional judgeships."

Sen. Grassley on lagging GOP-led Senate’s pace on nominations
(Republican - Iowa) 04/20/15
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the GOP-led Senate’s pace on nominations lags because Democrats already approved all of the nominees in December that Republicans would have been working on this year. “In November and December — contrary to tradition — the Democrats cleared the slate of nominees that were on the calendar after the election,” Grassley said. “We would have actually moved them through and had them through the Senate right now. So it was done in December instead of now.” A spokeswoman for Grassley also noted that so far in his presidency, Obama has had 308 judicial nominees confirmed — while Bush had 273 judges confirmed at the same point in his White House tenure.

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/16/15
"I hope that we can return to regular order in this Committee and not hold over all nominations simply because the Committee rules allow a member to delay consideration a week. No one on the Democratic side will be asking to hold the nominations over, and I would ask the Republican members of this Committee not to delay the nomination of Ms. Yates just out of reflex. She has strong bipartisan support and her hearing was almost four weeks ago. When we have a nominee as noncontroversial as Ms. Yates, we should proceed without delay."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General of the United States
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/15/15
"Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General has languished on the Senate floor for 48 days. This unnecessary wait time is twice as long as the last seven Attorney General nominees combined. ... Every additional day that Ms. Lynch’s nomination languishes on the floor is another day Senate Republicans fail to govern responsibly. This Congress, it took more than three months for Senate Republicans to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee. And even though the Senate finally did confirm a district court nominee this week, nine more judicial nominees are waiting to be considered. This is no way to respect the dedicated public servants who have been nominated and no way to treat our coequal branches of government."

After Months of Delay, Senate Republicans Finally Allow For a Vote on First Judicial Nominee of the 114th Congress; 9 Judicial Nominees, AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Continue To Await Consideration on the Senate Floor
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/14/15
Sen. Leahy press release: “Despite promises to govern responsibly, the Republican majority has continued to obstruct when it comes to judicial vacancies,” he said in a record statement. “The fact that it has taken more than three months into the 114th Congress for the Republican majority to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee is disconcerting, especially because all four of the district court nominees that have been languishing on the Senate floor were recommended to President Obama by their two Republican home state Senators.”

Sen. Grassley on judicial confirmations
(Republican - Iowa) 04/13/15
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) .. on Democrats, who confirmed a dozen federal judges at the end of 2014 before losing power. If they hadn’t passed so many, “we’d have more stars in our cap, but they got the stars in theirs,”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Executive and Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/13/15
"We should also be voting on all 10 judicial nominees who have been pending in the Senate since last year, two of whom just passed the 1-year mark since they were first nominated. Tonight, we will consider just one of those nominees. Once confirmed, Alfred Bennett will fill a ``judicial emergency'' vacancy in the Southern District of Texas that has been empty for more than 2 years. There is no good explanation why it has taken us nearly 7 months to vote on his nomination, nor is there a good reason for why we are not voting on the other two pending nominees to district court vacancies in Texas. There are still two Fifth Circuit vacancies and seven other Federal district court vacancies in Texas for which there are no nominees. Texas has two times the number of Federal court vacancies of any other State, and these vacancies account for one-third of the judicial emergency vacancies on our Nation's courts. I urge the Texas Senators to work with the President so that we can receive nominees for those vacancies as soon as possible....I urge the Republican majority to schedule votes to confirm the remaining judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar. None of the nominees are controversial. We should do our jobs and vote on their nominations so that they can start doing their jobs working for the American people."

Sen. Cornyn on chronic judicial vacancies
(Republican - Texas) 04/13/15
Sen. John Cornyn said there’s only so much the Senate can do on its own. “We can’t nominate the judges. The president has to nominate the judges,” he said after the vote. “The White House doesn’t seem to be making this a priority. It’s not really a partisan difference.”

Sens. Cornyn, Cruz Announce Application Process for Texas Judgeships: QUALIFIED ATTORNEYS ARE INVITED TO SEEK APPOINTMENTS FOR VACANCIES IN WESTERN AND EASTERN DISTRICTS
(Republican - Texas) 04/08/15
The vacancies are in the Western (Midland) and Eastern (Plano) Districts. "Texans deserve the best and brightest minds on the bench, and as a former judge, I encourage all interested candidates to step up and answer the calling for public service," Sen. Cornyn said. "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."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Confirmations
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/26/15
"The refusal by the Senate Republican leadership to schedule votes on any Federal judges is completely contrary to historical precedent. This is also in stark contrast to the way Democrats treated President Bush’s judicial nominees. During the Bush administration we were able to reduce overall judicial vacancies from 110 down to 28.... we confirmed 68 district and circuit court judges in those last two years.... The refusal to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee this year comes despite the fact that four of these nominees have languished on the Senate floor for a month and were recommended to President Obama by their two Republican home state Senators. Three of these pending nominees will fill district court vacancies in Texas, two of which have been designated by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts as “judicial emergency” vacancies. I would urge the current Assistant Republican Leader, who represents Texas, to work to schedule votes to fill those vacancies.... We started this Congress with 44 judicial vacancies, including 12 vacancies deemed judicial emergencies. Today, there are 55 vacancies, including 23 judicial emergency vacancies.... Filling the current vacancies is necessary but not sufficient. Last week the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, identified the need for adding 5 permanent judgeships to the courts of appeals, and 68 permanent judgeships to the district courts, as well as converting 9 temporary district court judgeships to permanent status."

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.”

SENATORS SCHATZ AND HIRONO ESTABLISH FEDERAL JUDICIAL SELECTION COMMISSION TO FILL U.S. DISTRICT COURT VACANCY Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway to Take Senior Status on November 6, 2015
(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.”

[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."

[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.

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."

Cornyn, Cruz Announce Application Process for Texas Judgeships: QUALIFIED ATTORNEYS ARE INVITED TO SEEK APPOINTMENTS FOR VACANCIES IN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
(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."

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."

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."

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."