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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. Reid Floor Statements on Michelle Friedland and other Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/10/14
"Earlier today the Senate voted to invoke cloture on Michelle Friedland to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. So the only question is, when will she be made a Federal judge in the Ninth Circuit.... We have 30 other judicial nominees pending on the calendar. We have 85 vacancies on the Federal courts. There is no reason to delay this nomination.... I heard little, if any, opposition. In fact, I have heard none for this nominee. I have heard only obstruction for obstruction's sake, delay for delay's sake.... As I indicated, this is something without logic. We have had a lot of judges approved after wasting hundreds of hours of time doing nothing. We have judges reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously, led by our good friend, the senior Senator from Vermont, the chairman of the Committee, who does such an admirable job. They were reported out unanimously, and they stall--the Republicans stall, delay, obstruct, and then we have a vote here and it passes very easily. Their only purpose for the delaying is for delay's sake."

Sen. Leahy: ‘Blue slips’ carry out constitutional duty
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/06/14
Senator Patrick Leahy: "I cannot recall a single judicial nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home-state senators. The blue slip process reflects this reality, and those who care about the courts and who want qualified judges confirmed should not overlook this fact. Those who believe that doing away with the blue slip process will bring only positive change are also forgetting that the like-minded will not always occupy the White House or control the Senate. ... I have long made clear that I would not rule out proceeding with a nomination if the blue slip is abused."

(Republican - Maine, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, Wisconsin) 04/04/14
17 Republican U.S. Senators from 12 states support 24 pending district and appeals court nominees & re-nominees (originally nominated last year) who would fill vacancies in their states

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy: SJC Approves Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/03/14
"The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved four judicial nominees and the nominee to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ... Cheryl Krause, nominated to fill a judicial vacancy on the 3rd Circuit, was approved unanimously. The Committee also approved three district court nominees during Thursday’s executive business meeting"

(Democrat - California) 03/31/14
"California has less than its proportional share of Ninth Circuit Court judgeships. Idaho has its fair share. Senator Crapo, who came to the floor and spoke about this, said nothing about population or caseload to illustrate why this judgeship should move to Idaho. ... I urge my Republican colleagues to consider the precedent they would be endorsing if they vote against this nominee because of this seat's history; and that is, if a circuit court judge in your State decides to move to another State in the circuit, then your State has lost that judgeship. That is the precedent that not approving this judge would set."

(Democrat - Vermont) 03/31/14
"Thursday the Senate voted to end the filibuster on the nomination of John Owens of California to a judicial emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This is the longest running vacancy in our entire Federal court system. Today the Senate will finally vote to confirm this outstanding nominee to a court that is in desperate need of judges. The Ninth Circuit is the busiest circuit court in the country, and yet it has not been operating at full strength for more than nine years. It has the highest number of appeals filed, the highest pending appeals per panel and the highest pending appeals per active judge. ... President Bush attempted an end run around home State Senators Feinstein and Boxer. ... The Bush administration also tried to get around home State senators in Maryland to fill a vacancy on the Fourth Circuit."

Sen. Cornyn on Senate Judiciary Committee voice vote of Judge Gregg Costa Fifth Circuit nomination
(Republican - Texas) 03/27/14
“He represents exactly the kind of well qualified, consensus nominee that the Senate should confirm,” Cornyn said. “He will be a great addition to the 5th Circuit.” In a brief conversation after the vote, Cornyn said that he is confident that Costa will receive bipartisan support in front of the full Senate and hopeful that he will be confirmed quickly.

Sen. Feinstein Speaks on Nomination of John Owens for Ninth Circuit Court
(Democrat - California) 03/27/14
"This seat has been vacant for over 9 years—since Judge Trott took senior status in December 2004. It is the longest running vacancy in the entire federal judiciary. The Ninth Circuit has the greatest number of pending appeals per panel. ... Judge Trott, whom Mr. Owens would replace, spent his entire legal career in California before joining the Justice Department under President Reagan. Throughout his career he was licensed to practice law in one State—California.... In 1987 President Reagan nominated Trott to the Ninth Circuit. The Judiciary Committee sent blue slips to Senators Wilson and Cranston of California.... Judge Trott was a California nominee to a California seat on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as was his predecessor. Once confirmed, however, Judge Trott made a personal choice to establish his chambers in Idaho. This personal choice—essentially an arbitrary occurrence—cannot result in a State losing a judgeship to another State. ... There is no objective reason for the Trott seat to be transferred to Idaho, where Judge N. Randy Smith already occupies that State’s seat on the circuit. By every metric—population, appeals generated, district court caseload—California has far less than its proportional share of circuit judgeships and Idaho already has its fair share. In fact, if Idaho were to get an additional judgeship, its representation on the Ninth Circuit would be 5 1/2 times its share of caseload. ... I am a cosponsor of the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013, which would create all the new judgeships recommended by the Judicial Conference, including one for Idaho."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Committee Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/27/14
"We have four judicial nominations and one executive nomination listed on our agenda that were held over last week and are ready to be reported to the Senate by the Committee today. One of these nominees, Gregg Costa of Texas, would fill an emergency vacancy on the Fifth Circuit. I thank the Texas Senators for working with me to move this nominee. We also have some nominations listed for the first time that Republicans may want to hold over a week."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/13/14
"On our agenda today are four judicial nominations – including one from Texas– and the nominee to head the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. I understand that Republican Members are asking that they all be held over so we will report them out at our next meeting."

Sen. Levin floor statement on confirmation of Michigan judges
(Democrat - Michigan) 03/12/14
"I am pleased that four, well-qualified nominees to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan will now be before the Senate, and I urge my colleagues to confirm them. Each of them has demonstrated a commitment to impartial justice and a thorough knowledge of the law. Each was recommended by an independent screening committee that Senator Stabenow and I have formed. It is broadly based and chaired by one of Michigan's truly outstanding lawyers, Eugene Driker."

Stabenow, Levin welcome Senate confirmation of Michigan judges
(Democrat - Michigan) 03/12/14
"Today's vote is great news for Michigan," said Stabenow. "These four highly respected jurists have dedicated their careers to our community and to public service and will serve our state with great distinction." "Senator Stabenow and I recommended each of these judges to the president after their selection by a broad-based screening committee of Michigan legal experts," Levin said. "Each of them has demonstrated a mastery of the law and the impartiality required of a judge, and I know they will serve justice and the people of Michigan well."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on judicial nominee delays and filibusters
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/12/14
"[T]he last two days, we have spent unnecessary floor time overcoming procedural obstacles so that we can vote to confirm the five judicial nominations before us today. Every single one of the nominees that we will vote on today has bipartisan support and will be confirmed by significant margins. Judge Carolyn McHugh was nominated last May, while all four nominees to the Eastern District of Michigan were nominated last July. All of these nominees could and should have been confirmed before we adjourned last year. Instead, because Republicans refused to consent to hold these nominations in the Senate, and every single one had to be returned to the President at the end of last year. They then had to be re-nominated and re-processed through Committee this year and were all reported out with bipartisan support on January 16, 2014. We have not had a vote on a judicial nomination this year that was not subjected to a Republican filibuster. I appreciate very much the two Republican senators, Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski, who have voted each time to end the filibuster of judicial nominees. For other Republican senators, however, I have started to notice a pattern of voting to end filibusters only if a nominee is from a state with at least one Republican home state Senator. Most recently this happened earlier this week on the cloture vote for Judge McHugh with nine Republicans voting to end the filibuster. It should not require a judicial nominee to be from a state with one or more Republican home state senators for some senators to do the right thing. Filling vacancies so that our Federal judiciary can be fully functioning should not be a partisan issue."

Sen. Majority Leader Reid Floor Statement on filibusters of judicial and other nominees
(Democrat - Nevada) 03/12/14
"I am quite disappointed in my friend the senior Senator from Iowa. This afternoon he delivered another one of his ``Alice in Wonderland'' speeches. He has delivered a few of these, but the one today especially is a view of reality that only exists in fairy tales. He complains that I file too many cloture motions. His complaint is like that of an arsonist who complains about having to hear the sirens of too many fire engines. The real reason I have had to file so many cloture motions is because Republicans have engaged in a systematic pattern of obstruction--and not last week, not last month, but this has been going on for 5 years. We have come to see this as something of the pinnacle, the landmark, the zenith of obstructionism led by my Republican colleagues. I have now had to file cloture motions during the time I have been the majority leader more than 500 times.... I file these motions because Republicans have made it clear that we can't get a vote on anything without going to cloture ... What is the solution of the Senator from Iowa to the problem? Listen to this. Now, this really is ``Alice in Wonderland.'' He proposes it should take longer to file. He proposes it should take longer to file cloture. Now, that is some dreamland that I don't understand. He says the solution to the problem of Republican obstructionism is to make obstruction easier.... throughout this Executive Calendar there are about 40 Ambassadors--40 Ambassadors--who are waiting to be confirmed and 35 or so judges. Do the math yourself. That is 75 or 80 very important jobs they have stopped."

Sen. Stabenow Floor Statement on judicial vacancies and nominees
(Democrat - Michigan) 03/11/14
"There are currently 89 judicial vacancies in Federal courts across the country, including four on the eastern court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Two of these are considered emergency vacancies because they have been vacant for over 19 months. With so many vacancies the case backlog isn't getting any smaller. It is a real problem. The good news is that today we have the opportunity to vote to move forward on four excellent nominees to fill vacancies in the courts. ... We have four excellent nominees for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. They are thoughtful, they are prudent, and they are ready to get to work. I encourage and ask that all of my colleagues join together today in a strong bipartisan vote to be able to move these nominations forward and bring them to the floor tomorrow morning for the final vote."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/10/14
"Republicans continue to obstruct on every nomination, even though there are currently 89 Federal judicial vacancies, 34 of which have been deemed emergency vacancies by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. In stark contrast, there were only 56 judicial vacancies at the same point in President Bush's tenure. ... 31 of the 33 judicial nominees currently pending on the floor were voted out of Committee with bipartisan support. It is clear that Senate Republicans have decided to use the rules change as another excuse to further accomplish their partial government shut down."

Sen. Leahy: SJC Continues Its Work
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/14
"The Committee also approved three judicial nominations on Thursday including one nominee, Robin Rosenbaum, who would fill an emergency vacancy on the 11th Circuit. The Committee also approved the nomination of Leslie Caldwell to be the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/14
"We have three judicial nominations and one executive nomination listed on our agenda. All were held over last week, and I hope that they can be reported to the Senate today by the Committee."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/14
"[W]e are finally going to vote to end the filibusters of four judicial nominees to the Federal district court in Arkansas, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and California. None of these nominees is controversial. ... nominees who would normally have just gone through in a matter of weeks have been held up, and held up, and held up, and held up, for no good reason. ...Senate Republicans are just filibustering nominees for the sake of filibustering them under different rules. They refuse to consent to vote on dozens of pending noncontroversial judicial nominees, and that means these nominees sit on the floor for months, and months, and months before we have to overcome unnecessary procedural hurdles. ... These are the same people who shut down the Federal Government last year. ... They caught so much grief for this disruption that, I suppose, they do not want to have a complete shutdown of the Federal judiciary. Instead, they do it by a sort of water torture--drip, by drip, by drip. They are doing the same thing to the Federal judiciary that they did to the Federal Government, trying to close it down. It may be the case that Republicans cannot stop a noncontroversial judicial nominee from eventually receiving an up-or-down vote, but they have done a pretty darn good job of delaying five judicial nominees from filling longstanding vacancies. This kind of needless delay only hurts the American people. It is hurting the Federal judiciary. It is one of the reasons so many people in this country are angry at what happens here, when they see one thing after another delayed and slowed up."

Sen. Pryor Floor Statement
(Democrat - Arkansas) 03/05/14
"Timothy Brooks of the Western District of Arkansas, is excellent in every way. He basically has the support from plaintiffs', defendants', and criminal defendants' lawyers, prosecutors, Democrats and Republicans, businesses--everybody. They really like this nominee is the total consensus on him. He has been waiting for a long time. We tried to get this going last year and got caught up in end-of-the-year stuff. I ask all my colleagues to vote yes on the procedure and on confirming him."

Sen. Heller tweet on Nevada U.S. district court nominee
(Republican - Nevada) 02/28/14
"Pleased 2 sign blue slip 4 Richard Boulware, nominee for District Judge, District of NV.Look forward to supporting him at nomination hearing"

Chairman Leahy statement at Senate Judiciary Executive Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/27/14
"We have nine judicial nominees and one executive nominee on today’s agenda. The six Arizona district court nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies are ready to be reported out. One of these Arizona nominees will become the first Native American woman ever to serve on the Federal bench and another is a Latina who was nominated more than two years ago. I am glad we will make progress on them today and look forward to their confirmation votes. I thank Senators McCain and Flake for their work. I understand that the Republicans want to hold over the other nominees today. I expect we will report them out next week."

(Republican - Arizona) 02/27/14
“I am gratified by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s overwhelming support for the diverse and historic slate of nominees for the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. With the Committee’s action today, Arizona is one big step closer to having the emergency vacancies on that court filled with well-qualified judges. These nominees are the product of cooperation, consensus and careful deliberation, supported by the views a non-partisan judiciary evaluation commission. I look forward to their timely consideration and confirmation by the full Senate.”

Sen. Leahy: SJC Approves Six Judicial Nominees To Fill Emergency Vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/27/14
“Federal district court judges handle the vast majority of the caseload of the Federal courts and are critical to making sure our courts remain available to provide a fair hearing for all Americans,” Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “I expect that this diverse group of judicial nominees will be confirmed now that they have been reported out of Committee and have the support of their home state Senators. The progress we made today in the committee to move these nominations forward would not have occurred without the support of Senator McCain and Senator Flake. I thank them for their support today and I hope the Senate quickly confirms these nominees who are urgently needed in the state of Arizona.”

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Northern District of California Judicial Nominees, Vacancies, and Confirmation Delays
(Democrat - California) 02/25/14
"Let me close by noting that each of these nominees will fill a judicial vacancy that has been designated as a ``judicial emergency'' by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The Northern District's weighted caseload per judgeship is over 13 percent above the national average. Filings per active judge are up 17 percent since 2008. In fact, it now takes 27 percent longer for a civil case to get to trial than it did in 2010. The vacancy Judge Freeman would fill has existed for over 800 days. The vacancy Mr. Donato would fill has existed for over 500 days. It is long past time for these seats to be filled. Indeed, each of these nominees should have been confirmed in 2013--but, unfortunately, each had to be renominated in this session and voted out of the Judiciary Committee for a second time. This wasted several months during which each could have been serving as a Federal Judge."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on James Donato district court nomination and emergency vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/25/14
"I have heard from my friends on the Republican side that we should be concerned about emergency vacancies. This is an emergency vacancy. He was reported out unanimously for the first time last October. He had to be reported out a second time this year--again, unanimously. He has the strong support of the two Senators from California. So holding up and having a filibuster and going through all of that on this nomination is the kind of game playing that hurts the Federal judiciary. It is almost like the efforts made by our friends on the other side in closing down the government last year, and this is just a slow way to close down the Federal judiciary."

Sen. Feinstein: Senate Confirms Two Judges for California’s Northern District
(Democrat - California) 02/25/14
“Beth Freeman and Jim Donato both bring strong qualifications to the federal bench,”Senator Feinstein said following their confirmation votes, “and both nominees bring extremely important experience to the Northern District.” Both nominees will fill longstanding vacancies that have been declared “judicial emergencies” by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The seat Freeman fills has been vacant for more than 800 days. The seat Donato fills has been vacant for more than 500 days. “Judge Freeman earned her law degree from Harvard Law School, served in San Mateo’s County Counsel’s Office for 18 years, and brings over a decade of judicial experience in San Mateo,” Feinstein continued. “Jim Donato earned his law degree from Stanford Law School, served in the San Francisco city attorney’s office, was president of the Bar Association of San Francisco and has a distinguished record at prestigious private law firms handling complex civil cases.”

Sen. Pryor Floor Statement on Jay Moody district court nomination
(Democrat - Arkansas) 02/25/14
" One of the things this nomination illustrates to me and I think also brings home to people around the country is that this body should not play games with the third branch of government. We have our own issues. This body can be dysfunctional and highly partisan. Let's not export that to the judiciary. We have a fine man who has offered his services to be a Federal judge.... In fact, there is no reason why Judge Moody was not confirmed back in December. He should have been. But for the wrangling here in the Senate, but for the problems we have had in the Senate in the last several months, he would be a Federal judge today, and he should be a Federal judge today. In fact, 2 weeks ago I came to the floor and asked for consent that we go ahead and just confirm him by unanimous consent, but that was not granted.... this turns out to be a no-brainer, so I am not going to belabor his qualifications and why we should do this other than to say that I know I am tired--and I think people all over the country are also tired--of the gridlock here in Washington. They look at a State such as Arkansas where we have eight Federal district court judges and we have two vacancies. These vacancies should have been filled back in December. There is no reason why they should not. But they have been working under 75 percent horsepower now for months. We could have fixed that back in December, but because of the wrangling here in the Senate and in Washington, that was not done."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on pending judicial nominees and vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/25/14
"I would like to thank the majority leader and the Democratic floor staff for taking the necessary steps to confirm the four judicial nominees we have just confirmed between last night and today. I am sure the people in Connecticut, Arkansas, and California are thankful that their districts now have judges to help alleviate the heavy caseload in those districts and that they will now be able to have their cases decided in a more expeditious manner. There are 28 more judicial nominees still currently pending on the Executive Calendar in States such as Tennessee, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, and Wisconsin. I hope Senate Republicans will not continue to politicize the filling of judicial vacancies. Americans in those States want a functioning Federal judiciary at full capacity so they can seek and obtain justice in an expeditious manner."