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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Sasse Announces Nebraska Justice and Judicial Nominations Advisory Commission
(Republican - Nebraska) 02/14/17
Sen. Sasse Press Release: "Senator Sasse’s Nebraska Justice and Judicial Nominations Advisory Commission is an independent body of well-respected Nebraska leaders that will review applications, interview candidates, and make recommendations to Senator Sasse. Each Senator makes his or her recommendation to the White House. After the White House sends a nomination to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its confirmation process which, by longstanding precedent, requires the approval of both home-state senators."

Sens. Fischer, Sasse Announce Judicial Nominations Process for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
(Republican - Nebraska) 02/10/17
Nebraska’s U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse announced the application process for filling a forthcoming vacancy in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Last week, Chief Judge William Jay Riley announced he will transition from active service to senior status effective June 30, 2017. Under the U.S. Constitution, judicial nominations are made by the president “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Typically, home state senators work with the Office of White House Counsel to identify for the president’s consideration qualified candidates for vacancies on the U.S. circuit courts. Senators Fischer and Sasse invite applications from qualified Nebraskans.

Sen. Gardner Reopens Committee to Fill Colorado Judicial Vacancy
(Republican - Colorado) 01/19/17
In November 2015, Gardner recommended four potential nominees the White House. While President Obama nominated one of Gardner’s recommendations, the nominee was not confirmed. “The search to fill the Colorado judgeship began nearly a year prior to the vacancy in order to ensure that an already busy court is not understaffed,” said Gardner. “It is critical that the process to fill the vacancy remains thorough and expeditious. That is why I have requested the Judicial Evaluation Committee provide recommendations within 30 days so that I can send potential nominees to President-elect Trump as soon as possible.”

Sens. Cruz, Cornyn Announce Application Process for Texas Judgeships and U.S. Attorney Positions
(Republican - Texas) 01/19/17
“The FJEC selection process ensures Texans have the best, most qualified federal judges and prosecutors serving them,” Sen. Cruz said. “Texas is blessed with many exceptional candidates with a deep respect for the rule of law, and I encourage them to pursue these important positions.” “As a former judge and Attorney General of Texas, I acutely understand the importance of ensuring that we have the best people sitting on the federal bench and enforcing federal law in Texas,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I encourage any qualified individuals interested in serving Texas in these roles to take the first step by submitting their information to the review committee.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth stresses value of hearings for presidential nominees
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/09/17
we asked her how she'd treat Cabinet and Supreme Court nominees from Trump. Hearings for all of them are essential she said, decrying the lack of one for President Obama's high court nominee Merrick Garland. "We should be able to see what that person proposes to bring to the table in terms of their experience, their background, but also what their policies are," she told your shorter columnist then. "I'll base my vote on those hearings themselves and meetings and conversations with the person. No matter who is president, their nominee deserves to have a hearing, and that's not what's happening right now." She also said that even with the opposing party controlling the White House and Congress, she'd stand up and insist on hearings and votes to fill lower-level judicial seats - something that has been a persistent problem under the last three presidents because of members of both parties. Republicans have slow-walked district and appellate court nominees for both Obama and Bill Clinton; Democrats did the same under George W. Bush. The hypocrisy is strong in both parties on this topic, which is why it was gratifying to hear this from Duckworth: "We are in a crisis across this country with so many open judicial seats right now," she said in November. "Many of them have been in so-called 'crisis mode' for a decade. ... The American people deserve a functioning government, and we don't have that if the two parties cannot come together and do their jobs."

Sen. Crapo joins Senate Judiciary Committee, hopes to push David Nye renomination and third Idaho federal judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 01/03/17
He and fellow GOP Sen. Jim Risch persuaded the Judiciary Committee to unanimously approve the nomination of Idaho Judge David Nye for the state’s vacant federal judgeship in the fall, but the nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate. That leaves Idaho still down to just one active federal district judge, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, since longtime Judge Edward Lodge took senior status in July of 2015. Lindsay Nothern, Crapo’s spokesman, said, “We’re really going to work hard on Nye and work hard on the judges thing. That was a part of the move to the Judiciary Committee.” Nothern said Crapo is hoping to move Nye’s nomination through “sooner rather than later,” and said he’ll “absolutely” be in a better position to advocate for Idaho to get a third judgeship. “He might be writing the legislation to do it,” Nothern said.

Sen. Crapo to Join Judiciary Committee in 115th Congress
(Republican - Idaho) 01/03/17
Crapo will work with the President-elect to nominate and confirm Idaho’s next U.S. District Judge.... “When the committee convenes, it will hold hearings and act to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. That nominee must follow in the model of Justice Scalia, looking first and foremost to the Constitution for guidance. I will also work with other panel members to advance to the full Senate a nominee to be Idaho’s next U.S. District judge."

Sen. Barbara Boxer: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in ‘Judicial Emergency’
(Democrat - California) 12/29/16
Sen. Barbara Boxer said the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is facing a “judicial emergency” as she called for a Senate vote Tuesday on San Jose-based U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s nomination to the appellate court. As the new year rears its head, the 9th Circuit is facing a four-seat vacancy: Two are currently empty and two will become vacant when other judges assume senior status at the end of 2016.

Sen. Donnelly on Winfield Ong, Myra Selby, and Merrick Garland judicial nominations
(Democrat - Indiana) 12/28/16
“I am disappointed that the Senate does not plan to hold any more votes this year,” Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly said. “I strongly supported both Winfield Ong and Myra Selby and pushed the Senate majority to allow them to receive fair and timely consideration. Part of our job as senators is to consider judicial nominations, but ultimately the Republican leadership chose not to hold hearings and votes on many nominees for the lower courts in addition to refusing to consider the nomination of Judge Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.”

Sen. Klobuchar on candidates for two MN federal judgeships
(Democrat - Minnesota) 12/27/16
In a phone interview Tuesday, Klobuchar said she and Franken agreed to forward names reviewed by their committee to Paulsen and U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., after the Nov. 21 deadline for applications passed. Klobuchar said candidates included judges appointed by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "I think the real interest here is to get these vacancies filled by qualified people," Klobuchar said. "Our interest in Minnesota for both Republicans and Democrats should be getting the best people we can get on the bench. … Somehow I'm hopeful this will work. [Emmer and Paulsen are] going to be called on by the administration to give their recommendations. I think it is helpful to get as many names and input as possible."

Sen. Harry Reid: Farewell, Fair Senate
(Democrat - Nevada) 12/09/16
Sen. Reid Op-Ed: One thing we fought for that’s worth defending is a fairer, more open and more productive Senate. We changed the Senate rules to guarantee a president’s nominees a simple-majority vote, and declared that a president’s nominees should not be stymied with procedural hurdles and a requirement for supermajority votes. (Supreme Court nominations still have this requirement.) We declared that the changes should apply regardless of which party was in the White House .... Moreover, the rule change has been a victory for those who want to see a functioning, open and transparent Senate. It allowed Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees to receive the just consideration they deserved. Without the rule change, Republicans would have been able to hold open three seats on our nation’s second highest court, the District of Columbia Circuit Court, until the next Republican administration. The judges we confirmed to those seats will loom large in the years to come. In 2014 alone, the Senate confirmed 89 Circuit and District Court judges, more than for any year in two decades. The rule change was consistent with the history of the Senate, which has continually evolved when faced with new challenges .... From George Washington to George W. Bush, only 68 presidential nominees had been filibustered. Senate Republicans took obstruction to a new level, filibustering 79 of Mr. Obama’s nominees in just four years.

Idaho Senators on federal district court nominee
(Republican - Idaho) 12/08/16
Despite the best efforts of Idaho’s two senators, the lame-duck session of Congress is wrapping up without any confirmation votes on judges – including U.S. District judge nominee David Nye of Idaho. ... Sen. Mike Crapo’s spokesman, Lindsay Nothern, said, “The odds of us getting it done today are probably not good. So we need to push forth into the new year and continue to work with the Trump folks on Judge Nye’s nomination and confirmation.” “We’re going to keep going with Nye,” Nothern said.... The federal court system has declared a “judicial emergency” in Idaho due the shortage of judges, and out-of-state judges have been brought in to hear Idaho cases. “We are disappointed – we would have liked to have gotten it done now,” Nothern said. “That said, we’re still optimistic in working with Trump’s folks, because they’re asking us who we like and we say we’re going to support Judge Nye. There’s been communication already.” However, he noted, “We’d have to re-nominate him through the Trump Administration.” Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee in July after a hearing in June. He’s among 20 federal district court nominees who’ve won unanimous support from the committee, but never got floor votes in the full Senate on their confirmations.

Sen. Cardin Floor Statement: TRIBUTE TO HARRY REID
(Democrat - Maryland) 12/08/16
"Senator Reid's efforts to choose qualified Federal jurists for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada will be felt for decades after he leaves office. Senator Reid has recommended and helped confirm five of the six judges currently serving on the court. As a result of Senator Reid's commitment to diversity, there have been numerous ``firsts'' for the court. In 1998, Senator Reid recommended Johnnie Rawlinson to be the first woman to serve as a judge on the Nevada District Court. At his request, she was elevated to the Ninth Circuit in 2000. In 2010, Gloria Navarro became the first Hispanic woman to serve as a judge on the Nevada District Court. In 2012, Miranda Du became the first Asian-Pacific American to serve as a judge on the Nevada District Court. In 2014, Richard Boulware became the first African-American man to serve as a judge on the Nevada District Court. The Senate still has the opportunity to confirm Anne Traum, who would be the first Jewish person to serve on the Nevada District Court."

Sen. Boxer: Farewell to the Senate Floor speech
(Democrat - California) 12/07/16
"When I look back on everything I fought for, there are more than a thousand accomplishments, and I am certainly not going to talk about all of those, but I am going to, briefly, very fast, go through 10 of my favorites.... recommending a diverse group of supremely qualified judicial nominees who are carrying out our laws in California's Federal courts."

Sen. Moran disappointed district court nominee Terrence Campbell was not able to be confirmed before the election.
(Republican - Kansas) 12/07/16
A Lawrence attorney nominated to the federal bench in Kansas nearly a year ago is withdrawing his name from consideration. Terrence J. Campbell made public on Wednesday letters he sent to President Barack Obama and to Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran. He cites the short time remaining for Congress to complete its business and the results of the recent election, saying it is apparent he will not be able to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Moran says he is disappointed Campbell was not able to be confirmed before the election.

Sens. Crapo and Risch on ID federal district court nominee and need for another judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 12/07/16
With Congress nearing adjournment for the year, Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho have had no luck in getting the GOP-controlled Senate to confirm David Nye, a Pocatello judge nominated in April by President Barack Obama. As a result, both senators are hoping that the president-elect will renominate Nye for the position in 2017.... Even if Nye is approved next year, Risch and Crapo say that Idaho still needs a third federal judge to handle the state’s growing caseload. ... Risch and Crapo both issued statements through their press aides, saying they’d work with Trump next year to try to get Nye renominated and confirmed as quickly as possible.

Sen. Hoeven spokesman on Jennifer Klemtsrud Puhl 8th Circuit Court of Appeals nomination
(Republican - North Dakota) 11/30/16
Puhl has the support of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., both of whom introduced her when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June. In that hearing, Puhl found a friendly reception and her nomination was sent to the Senate floor on a voice vote with no dissents. Despite her bipartisan support, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate majority leader, told Hoeven after the Thanksgiving break that no Obama judicial or executive nominees will move forward in the waning days of the lame duck Congress, said Don Canton, Hoeven's spokesman. But when Donald Trump takes over as president and the new Congress convenes in January, Hoeven will again submit Puhl's name—among others—as a potential nominee for the 8th Circuit judicial vacancy, Canton said. North Dakota's seat on the appeals court was vacated by Kermit Bye, who last year took senior status at age 77 and retired Sept 1. "We'll certainly advance Jennifer's name and support her next year, but we'll also have to forward several other names, too," he said.

Sen. Heitkamp will continue pushing for Jennifer Klemtsrud Puhl confirmation to 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - North Dakota) 11/30/16
Puhl has the support of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., both of whom introduced her when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in June. In that hearing, Puhl found a friendly reception and her nomination was sent to the Senate floor on a voice vote with no dissents.... In a statement, Heitkamp said she would continue to press for Puhl's confirmation, in this session and the one starting next year. "The judicial seat on the 8th Circuit has been vacant for an astonishing almost 600 days—preventing the judicial system from fully functioning and unnecessarily delaying the due process of American citizens throughout our region—including North Dakotans," she said. "It's long past time for the U.S. Senate to consider and approve Jennifer's nomination."

Sens. Feinstein & Boxer on need for 2016 confirmation of Judge Lucy Koh to Ninth Circuit
(Democrat - California) 11/23/16
“With the 9th Circuit facing a judicial emergency, it’s critical that the Senate act on this vacancy,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said in a statement Tuesday, calling Koh a “supremely qualified nominee.” Boxer’s California colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will play an even more significant role in vetting Trump’s judicial nominees through her newly acquired position as senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Like Boxer, she still holds out hope for Koh. “My staff is working to ensure Judge Koh is included in any end-of-year package of judges, and I look forward to seeing Judge Koh confirmed as soon as possible,” Feinstein said Wednesday.

Sen. Schumer on need for lame duck Senate vote on Kathleen Sweet district court nomination
(Democrat - New York) 11/19/16
President Obama recommended Sweet, a well-known civil attorney and former Erie County Bar Association president, for appointment in March, and she made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee unopposed. But, since then, her nomination has languished.... "To start the process all over again would simply be unfair to all those seeking speedy justice in Buffalo and Western New York,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer said in a statement. "Now is the time for the Senate to do its job and promptly approve Ms. Sweet because the backlog in caseload needs to be addressed right away." ... In Schumer, Sweet has a supporter who, because of his new leadership position, may have the clout to overcome potential Republican opposition. "When it comes to Kathleen Sweet, the verdict is clear," he said. "She has exceptional experience, an incisive legal mind, a tremendous resume, and the temperament needed to fill the U.S. Court seat in the Western District of New York, which has been vacant for too long."

Idaho Senators ponder how much to do in lame-duck session, with Nye nomination at the ready
(Republican - Idaho) 11/16/16
“Sen. Risch and I both want very much to see this resolved this year in the lame duck, and that is what he and I are going to aggressively continue working for,” Crapo said. At this point, Crapo said, senators want assurance from their leaders and the incoming Trump Administration about the overall approach. “One thing that could cause trouble in the Senate is if we were able to get, say, just some of the nominees,” Crapo said. Nye is No. 18 on the list of 20 federal district court nominees and three federal circuit court nominees awaiting final votes; all have been cleared by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but not all won unanimous approval as Nye did. “If we start moving only the ones that are unanimous, and then others don’t move, then the senators from the states that nominees don’t move may cause trouble,” Crapo said. “So it’s never simple.” All 20 of the district court nominees won unanimous approval, as did one of the three circuit court nominees, but the other two circuit nominees had split committee votes. “Sen. Risch and I are currently working very hard to see if there is a pathway to move still in the lame duck,” Crapo said.... Crapo said the answer on whether Nye’s nomination will come up for a vote soon likely won’t come today, and “maybe not even next week.”

Sens. Crapo, Risch standing by Judge Nye nomination, hoping for Senate vote soon
(Republican - Idaho) 11/14/16
“Nye is still in play through the lame-duck,” said Lindsay Nothern, spokesman for Crapo. He noted that Nye already has won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’re that far, so hopefully we can get a vote,” Nothern said. “The hope would be that we can get it through on unanimous consent.”... John Sandy, chief of staff for Risch, said, “It’s imperative to Idaho that we get this other judge.” He said Risch remains committed to pushing for a full Senate vote on Nye during the lame-duck session, and if that doesn’t work, pursuing it in 2017. Layne Bangerter, Idaho director for the Trump for President campaign and a member of the Trump transition team, said he wouldn’t predict any change in the Idaho nominee choice even after Trump takes office. “I think that’s a solid process that they have gone through, and that Donald Trump would support that,” he said.

Sen. Leahy Comments On The Alarming Calls By Some Republicans For Permanent Obstruction Of Judicial Nominees, Incl. SCOTUS
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/27/16
“Eight months ago Republican senators attempted to justify their unprecedented obstruction of a Supreme Court nominee by claiming that the American people needed to be heard through the election. Now that we are on the eve of that democratic moment, some at last are making clear that this justification was simply a political farce. .... These Republicans are proving that they have no intention of doing their jobs and that their blockade of judicial nominees is purely driven by politics. “This amounts to piecemeal evisceration of the Constitution. I hope that reasonable Republicans will repudiate these calls for wholesale and enduring obstruction and get back to work to address skyrocketing judicial vacancies. Americans should not accept a Senate that has done almost nothing to address the vacancy crisis in courts throughout our country. Senators should honor their oaths of office and keep their word to the American people.”

(Democrat - Minnesota) 10/27/16
Senator Klobuchar said: “This group of distinguished Minnesota leaders will help us identify jurists who will continue Minnesota’s long tradition of federal judges with broad experience and an unwavering commitment to the fair and just application of the law. “Federal judges have lifetime appointments, which is why it is critical that they are even-handed, fair-minded, and dedicated to equal justice under law. In addition to these important traits, the Committee will look for a person of integrity with a first-rate legal mind and a breadth of professional experience." ... Senator Franken said: “The Senate has an important role to play in filling judicial vacancies, and I take that role very seriously.... but I’m confident that the Selection Committee we are announcing today will find well-qualified Minnesotans who will apply the law fairly and equally for all. I’m looking forward to reviewing the Committee’s work and recommending nominees to the President who will serve the people of our state with honor and distinction.”

Sen. Risch on filling Idaho federal court vacancy
(Republican - Idaho) 10/03/16
Sen. Jim Risch says he’s still optimistic that the vacancy will be filled this year. “We are pressing to get to the goal line, to get this judge approved,” Risch, R-Idaho, said Monday. “It’s just the process up there is such that it takes a long time. It is deeply, deeply involved in politics. . . . He’s in the queue.”... Risch is hoping for a vote before the Senate adjourns for good this year. “We think we have a path forward,” he said. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

Sen. Durbin on pending judicial nominees
(Democrat - Illinois) 10/03/16
But isn’t it hypocritical for Republicans to tee up their favorite son judges to fill local benches while keeping a seat on the Supreme Court empty? “Of course it is,” Sen. Dick Durbin told The Daily Beast. “Here it is, the Supreme Court of the United States, which is already having problems because of a four to four tie, they won’t fill that vacancy and now they’re talking about other federal court judges?” “I’ll take what we can get in terms of filling these spots on the bench, because a third of the vacant seats are emergencies that should be filled,” Durbin said. “But it’s not fair to Merrick Garland, and it’s totally inconsistent with the history of the Senate.”

Sen. Cornyn on five Texas federal district court nominees
(Republican - Texas) 10/03/16
Just two weeks ago, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on five Texas judges. They were tapped by Obama to fill half of the vacancies in the sprawling red state. The state’s Republican senators are advocating their speedy approval by the full Senate. “We’ll try to make the case that that should happen in the lame duck session,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Daily Beast. “We’d like to do it now, but there’s probably not enough time to get it done.”

Sen. Cruz on five Texas federal district court nominees and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland
(Republican - Texas) 10/03/16
Just two weeks ago, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on five Texas judges. They were tapped by Obama to fill half of the vacancies in the sprawling red state. The state’s Republican senators are advocating their speedy approval by the full Senate.... While the Texans are pushing their home state nominees, they’re opposed to holding hearings on Garland or anyone else the president might have picked to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. “Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley have rightly held the line,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Daily Beast. He says there’s no comparing district court judges and the ninth seat on the highest court in the land, in part because the nominating process is drastically different. “We have a federal judiciary advisory committee that consists of respected attorney’s from across the state—geographically diverse, politically diverse, bipartisan—that interviews potential judicial candidates and ensures that nominees have the qualifications and experience and temperament to do the important jobs for which they’re being considered, and each of these five nominees made it through this vigorous process,” Cruz said.

Sen. Booker Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland [and other judicial nominees]
(Democrat - New Jersey) 09/27/16
[Page S6115] "It has been 7 months since Chief Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, and it is still pending. It has been about 19 months since Judge Julien Neals was nominated to the District Court of New Jersey, and it is still on hold. As was the case in the last two times I have come to the floor to speak, our country is not only operating with an incomplete Supreme Court, but it is also operating with a judicial vacancy crisis across the Nation in multiple Federal courts.... I noted that we faced 90 judicial vacancies in our courts across the country, 35 of which have been deemed judicial emergencies.... There are 30 nominations currently pending on the Senate Executive Calendar, and all but two were voted out of committee by unanimous vote. That includes 20 district court nominees. Both Republicans and Democrats in this body gave a unanimous vote in the Judiciary Committee. The nominations pending on the Executive Calendar are from States all across the country, from east to west. These places include New Jersey, New York, California, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Utah, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Idaho.... I ... ask that we push this bipartisan package of well-qualified nominees that includes two people who are next on the list, Ed Stanton and Julien Neals, the two longest waiting judicial nominees from Tennessee and New Jersey, as well as nominees from New York, California, Rhode Island, and two nominees from Pennsylvania, again supported in a bipartisan fashion in the Judiciary Committee.... I know this body is better than a tit-for-tat process, where we measure how many nominees President Bush got versus President Obama. This was not the intention of the Constitution, not the intention of our Framers, and it is not something that has been the tradition of our country. I know the good the Senate can do for Americans across the country. Part of our obligation is to ensure a functioning judicial system that can deliver justice for America. This Senate is failing to uphold its duty now and has plunged our Nation into a level of judicial crisis that is unacceptable. We can and we must do better."

Sen. Blumenthal: Senate Democrats: No Vote on Garland Nomination, No Recess
(Democrat - Connecticut) 09/27/16
“Congress has no excuse for leaving town without meeting its Constitutional obligation: filling a Supreme Court vacancy. This dereliction of duty is fundamentally damaging to our democracy and Members of Congress should be held accountable,” Blumenthal said. “Chief Judge Garland should have been confirmed by now. We have already had more than six months to examine the nominee’s record, and it is not as if the Senate has been consumed with considering other nominees. The last time we confirmed a judicial nominee was on July 6th, yet despite our efforts to make progress in filling vacancies, Republicans refuse to act. They have ignored their own calls for regular order and our independent Federal judiciary is suffering as a result,” Leahy said. “It should not require a resolution to keep us accountable to the oath we all swore to uphold the Constitution, but this is where Senate Republicans have led us. It is long past time for the Senate to do its job."