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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo
 

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley on Stephen Schwartz Court of Federal Claims nomination at Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Republican - Iowa) 09/14/17
I understand there may be concern that he hasn’t practiced in front of the Court of Federal Claims. However, he has vast experience litigating matters that regularly come before the Court, including Takings Clause Issues and claims under the Administrative Procedure Act. Mr. Schwartz has also been involved in cases involving so-called “hot button political topics.” Of course, he was representing clients in these matters and the Committee has a long-standing practice of not assuming client interests are the same as their attorney’s personal beliefs.

Sen. Feinstein Remarks on Stephen Schwartz Court of Federal Claims nomination
(Democrat - California) 07/25/17
"In my longer statement I also outline some concerns I have with Mr. Schwartz’s nomination. I understand he has never litigated in the court he is being nominated for, nor is he even admitted to practice before that court.... In 2014, President Obama nominated five people to the Court of Federal Claims. All of them had between 20 and 37 years of legal experience each. All of them had experience litigating before the Court of Federal Claims. All of them were voted out of Committee by voice vote—as in, they had wide bipartisan support because they were nonpartisan, highly qualified nominees. And all of them were blocked from final confirmation for the next two years by Senator Tom Cotton, who claimed that the Court of Federal Claims’ workload meant that it did not need any new judges. Today, we are considering the nomination of Stephen Schwartz to this same court. Mr. Schwartz has only nine years of legal experience. Based on the materials Mr. Schwartz submitted to the Committee, it appears that Mr. Schwartz has never litigated before the Court of Federal Claims. Indeed, he has not been admitted to practice before the Court he has been nominated to join. He has only been chief counsel in two cases that have reached final appellate or trial court decisions. Mr. Chairman, I have serious concerns about whether this nominee is qualified at this point in his career to serve on the court to which he has been nominated.”

Sen. Coons Unanimous Consent Request [to Vote on 5 Court of Federal Claims Nominees]
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/13/16
"[O]n the question of the Court of Federal Claims, today, currently, there are just 10 active judges, although it is authorized to have 16. The five nominees whom I brought to the floor today and have asked unanimous consent to proceed on were first nominated in April or May of 2014 and have waited more than 2 years for their confirmation here by the Senate. No one has raised an objection to their qualifications, and each of them has twice now unanimously been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee without concerns being raised or advanced about either their qualifications or the need to fill these judicial vacancies. With fewer active judges, cases have piled up in the Court of Federal Claims, which is often called ``the people's court'' because of its role in hearing cases brought by citizens and businesses against the Federal Government. From 2012 to 2015, the number of pending general jurisdiction cases per active judge has nearly doubled .... We have received letters from the chief judge of the Court of Federal Claims and the past president of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association urging our swift action on these nominees. ... Bonilla would be the first Hispanic judge to hold a position on this court and was strongly endorsed by the Hispanic National Bar Association.... I believe it is time we come together in a bipartisan fashion to do our job, confirm these five nominees to these judicial vacancies, and allow them to get to work serving our Nation on the Court of Federal Claims."

Sen. Cotton Objection [Blocks Votes on 5 Court of Federal Claims Nominees Judiciary Committee Twice Approved Unanimously]
(Republican - Arkansas) 09/13/16
"I objected to the confirmation of these judges before, and the reason still stands. There is little evidence that the Court of Federal Claims needs them.... There will be more discussion between my office and the White House about this data, but at this time I have yet to receive compelling data showing a judicial emergency for the Court of Federal Claims.... This is a serious court; the Senate should be serious as we consider confirming judges to it. The President's nominations to the court should not be rubberstamped."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement On the Pending Nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/13/16
"[F]or 2 years, President Obama's five eminently qualified nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims have been awaiting a vote. This court ... allows citizens to seek prompt justice against our government. Yet 2 years of obstruction by a single Senator, the junior Senator from Arkansas, has forced the court to operate without one-third of its allotted judges. While these five nominees have been waiting for a vote, another judge retired, leaving the court with only 10 judges for 16 seats, or a vacancy rate of 38 percent. This takes Senate Republican obstruction of judicial nominees to a new level.... I have heard no objections to the qualifications of any of the five nominees to this court. One of these nominees, Armando Bonilla, would be the first Hispanic judge to hold a seat on the Court.... During the Bush administration, the Senate confirmed nine judges to the Court of Federal Claims, with the support of every Senate Republican. So far, during the Obama administration, only three Court of Federal Claims nominees have received confirmation votes.... Senate Republicans' obstruction playbook leaves no court behind. It spans from the very top, with their complete refusal to give a hearing and a vote to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, to the article III circuit and district courts, to the article I Court of Federal Claims, where citizens go to sue their government. This blockade of all five CFC nominees makes no sense, especially because not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee raised a concern about these nominees either during the committee hearings on these nominations 2 years ago or during the Committee debate 2 years ago or last year."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Pending Nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/23/15
"Last week, the junior senator from Arkansas objected to a request to vote on any of the five nominations to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that have been awaiting confirmation for more than ten months. ... during the Bush administration, the Senate confirmed nine judges to the CFC – with the support of every Senate Republican. Only three CFC judges nominated by President Obama have received confirmation votes. This is the same double standard that Senate Republicans tried to apply to President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees .... Not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee raised a concern about the court’s caseload either during the Committee hearings on these nominations last year or during the Committee debate last year or this year. In blocking these five nominees, the junior senator from Arkansas ignores the Senate Judiciary Committee’s unanimous votes on these nominations in 2014 and again this year. He also disregards the Chief Judge who speaks on behalf of the entire court and the five past presidents of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association who have urged the Senate to fill these vacancies. In 2003, the now-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee engaged in a debate on the caseload of this court. He said then: “I feel it is unfair to these Court of Federal Claims nominees to deny them a seat by bringing up this point at this late date.” I hope that the junior senator from Arkansas will heed these words and remove his objection to an up or down vote on these nominees.... More than half a year into this new Congress, the Republican leadership has scheduled votes to confirm only five judicial nominees. This is in stark contrast to the 25 district and circuit court judges confirmed by July 23, 2007, when the shoe was on the other foot and Democrats had regained the Senate majority in the seventh year of the Bush administration."

Sen. Reid Remarks On Highway Legislation And Republican Obstruction Of Qualified Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Nevada) 07/22/15
"So far this Congress, Republicans have confirmed only 5 judges. By this same point in the last Congress of George W. Bush’s presidency, under my leadership, the Senate had confirmed 25 judges. Republicans are being outpaced 5-to-1. And there are real repercussions when Republicans refuse to act. If there aren’t enough judges to hear the cases that are piling up, a vacant judgeship is declared a judicial emergency. At the beginning of the year, there were only 12 judicial emergencies that deserved priority attention. Yet in the mere 7 months of this Republican-controlled Senate, that number has doubled, and is on its way to tripling. As of today, there are 28 judicial emergencies – including four judges currently pending on the floor. There are real-life consequences of Republican obstruction. Each judge Republicans block, each nomination they slow-walk, results in justice delayed. And as the legal maxim goes: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”... Perhaps the junior Senator from Arkansas should ask the Chief Judge of the Court of Federal Claims if his Court does not need new judges. The Chief Judge has pleaded for the immediate filling of those 5 vacancies, since they are creating a caseload problem for the Court. But the freshman Senator from Arkansas had his mind made up, and blocked every attempt to confirm even a single judge.... Yesterday the Washington press took notice that blocking these judges coincidentally lined up with the interests a powerful conservative law firm that is currently representing clients before the court. A Roll Call headline says: “Cotton Blocks Judges on Court Familiar to His Former Law Firm.” I don’t mean to single out the Senator from Arkansas. After all, he’s just following the Republican leader’s example. There are currently 7 district court judges awaiting votes here on the Senate floor. All 7 were reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously, proving they are consensus, noncontroversial candidates. So why hasn’t the Republican Leader scheduled their confirmation votes? Four of those district judge nominees are classified as judicial emergencies"

Sen. Coons request for Floor vote on all or any of five Court of Federal Claims nominees the Judiciary Committee approved on voice votes in 2014 and again in 2015
(Democrat - Delaware) 07/14/15
"[I]t is important for all of us in the Chamber to recognize that the Court of Federal Claims, while the actual number of cases considered may have decreased, faces a steadily increasing number of complex cases which are subject to statutory case management deadlines that drive the workload of the court and have roughly doubled in recent years from 68 back in 2005 to 113 last year and likely double that this year. So the actual number of cases may be declining, but their complexity and their workload, because of the need for them to be resolved in a certain period of time, have steadily increased ... we have a range of highly qualified nominees. Armando Bonilla would be the first Hispanic judge to hold a seat and has been with the Department of Justice. ... the President has nominated able and capable nominees and the court needs and deserves to not have to rely on senior status judges to meet its constitutional and statutory obligations."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Pending Nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/13/15
"The Senate Republicans’ insistence on delaying the confirmation of qualified nominees to the Court of Federal Claims harms its ability to resolve issues of national importance in a timely and just manner. Since February 2013, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims has been operating with several vacancies. Only 11 of the 16 seats on the court are occupied by active judges. We could have a court working at full strength if we confirm the five pending on the Senate Executive Calendar. All five of them were all nominated more than a year ago, and have twice been voted out of the Judiciary Committee by unanimous voice vote.... One of the nominees, Armando Bonilla, would be the first Hispanic judge to hold a seat on the Court.... Armando Bonilla’s story is that of the American Dream.... During the Bush administration, the Senate confirmed nine judges to the Court of Federal Claims – with the support of every Senate Republican. So far during the Obama administration, only three CFC judges have received confirmation votes.... More than half a year into this new Congress, the Republican leadership has scheduled votes to confirm only five district and circuit court judges. This is in stark contrast to the 25 district and circuit court judges confirmed by July 13, 2007, when the shoe was on the other foot and Democrats had regained the Senate majority in the seventh year of the Bush administration."

Sen. Byrd Floor statement opposing Sen. Craig's takings amendment
(Democrat - West Virginia) 12/13/07
"The proposed legislation would have imposed severe Federal sanctions on State and local governments seeking to exercise eminent domain over land for perfectly legitimate and defensible reasons, including for purposes of historic preservation, conservation, to create parks, or to promote recreation or community service."

Sen. Leahy Floor statement opposing Sen. Craig takings amendment
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/13/07
The Craig amendment "allows governments to seize farmland for a prison but not eminent domain for conservation purposes or a parkland. It is opposed by all the leading conservation groups"

Sen. Ben Nelson stands on judicial nominee voting record
(Democrat - Nebraska) 01/04/06
"I do not support obstructing judicial nominations," the Nebraska Democrat declared. And he has the voting record to prove it, Nelson said. During his Senate career, he said, he has voted to halt filibusters of judicial nominees every time but one. That vote against cloture was directed at the nomination of Henry Saad of Michigan as a U.S. Circuit Court judge. Nelson voted no because he was not allowed to read Saad's background files and because both Michigan senators strongly opposed the nomination. A detailed review of Nelson's record shows he has voted against confirmation of only one of 204 Bush judicial nominees approved by the Senate, according to David DiMartino, the senator's spokesman. That vote was directed at Victor Wolski of Virginia, who was confirmed as a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge on a 54-43 count. Nelson had determined Wolski would be "an activist judge," DiMartino said. His primary focus in considering nominees, Nelson said, is whether he or she will be "an adjudicator or a legislator." "I want to make sure they don't take a legislative agenda with them" to the court, he said.

Remarks of U.S. Senator Barack Obama on the nomination of Justice Janice Rogers Brown
(Democrat - Illinois) 06/08/05
Sen. Obama's Senate Floor statement opposing Janice Rogers Brown's nomination.

Executive Session - Nomination Of Janice Rogers Brown
(Democrat - New York) 06/07/05
Sen. Schumer's Senate Floor statement opposing nomination of Janice Rogers Brown.

Sen. Corzine on judicial nominations
(Democrat - New Jersey) 05/25/05
Sen. Corzine intends to vote against Priscilla Owen and against Janice Rogers Brown; William Pryor and William Myers because they espouse the Constitution in Exile theory intended to roll back socially progressive actions and to rescind well-established Government protecitons.