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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Feinstein Sets the Record Straight on Blue Slip, Speaks Against Right-Wing Nominees
(Democrat - California) 07/13/17
"I intend to support Mr. Newsom for the Eleventh Circuit, but I need to make a point about blue slips first. In February 2016, President Obama nominated U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon for this very same vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit. A few years earlier, Judge Kallon had been unanimously confirmed with the support of Senators Shelby and Sessions when he was nominated to the federal district court bench. However, Judge Kallon did not receive a hearing in this committee last year because Senators Shelby and Sessions did not support his elevation to the circuit court and thus did not return their blue slips. That’s the prerogative of home state senators for judicial nominees from their states—including circuit court judges and it has existed for 100 years.... President Obama’s nominee Judge Kallon and three other circuit nominees waited nine, 10, up to 11 months for blue slips that never came .... I am not able to support Mr. Bush’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit or Mr. Schiff’s nomination to the Court of Federal Claims.... they expressed strident, provocative and in some cases deeply offensive opinions on a wide range of political and legal issues. If I were a litigant before them, I would not have the confidence that these individuals had the temperament or impartiality to serve as a federal judge.... Bush wrote blog posts where he relied on extreme right-wing sources like World Net Daily .... Schiff referred to Justice Kennedy as a ‘judicial prostitute,’ and accused Justice Kennedy of ‘selling his vote as it were to four other justices in exchange for the high that comes from aggrandizement of power and influence.’ Shocking. Mr. Schiff also criticized a California school district’s proposed anti-bullying initiative for teaching that ‘homosexual families are the moral equivalent of traditional heterosexual families.’ Lastly, Mr. Schiff has repeatedly made clear his hostility to environmental laws that protect our clean air and clean water."

Sen. Cardin Votes Against Gorsuch Nomination
(Democrat - Maryland) 04/07/17
"After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and thoroughly reviewing his record, I am deeply troubled by his nomination and his potential impact on the Supreme Court. “Judge Gorsuch’s extensive legal record is peppered with examples of putting corporate interests before working Americans, showing hostility to agency decisions that protect our environment, disregard for women’s health, marginalizing students with disabilities and many more troubling decisions. His ideology could move the country backwards on guaranteeing equal justice under the law for all Americans, putting powerful special interests above individual rights. His activist views and opinions as a judge make it difficult for me to believe he can separate his political views from his legal analysis. He said little of substance at his confirmation hearing that could demonstrate that he would serve as an independent check on this president, who has tested the limits of the Constitution and the separation of powers. And unlike Judge Merrick Garland, who was considered by almost all independent judicial scholars as mainstream, Judge Gorsuch does not enjoy a similar evaluation. “There is no equivalency between the nomination of Judge Garland, who received the ultimate partisan filibuster from Republicans by not even receiving a hearing or a vote, and Judge Gorsuch, who has been placed onto the Supreme Court only after a Senate rules change, causing lasting damage to the future of the Senate."

Sen. Sanders Statement on Republicans' Use of 'Nuclear Option'
(Independent - Vermont) 04/06/17
"I am deeply disappointed that Republicans changed the rules so that they could push through their nominee with fewer than 60 votes. A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be done in a bipartisan way, but unfortunately Mitch McConnell chose to do it in an extremely partisan manner. Further, I am deeply concerned about the role that Judge Gorsuch will play on the Supreme Court. I fear very much that he will be part of an extreme right-wing majority that will attack workers’ rights, women’s rights and environmental protection as well as make our political system less democratic."

Sen. Cantwell Statement on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court
(Democrat - Washington) 03/30/17
“While no one expects Judge Gorsuch to reveal how he would rule on particular cases, during his Senate confirmation hearing he did not give Senators enough background about his judicial philosophy.... I am also troubled by Judge Gorsuch’s decision in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) case which was recently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.... Judge Gorsuch has concluded Chevron vs. NRDC should be overturned.... Overturning this doctrine could make it easier for courts to overturn important agency decisions protecting public health and the environment.... orsuch has also ruled against women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. He has frequently sided with employers over employees and favored corporate interests over public interests.... I cannot support cloture and will not support the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Sen. Reed to Vote No on Judge Gorsuch for Supreme Court
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 03/24/17
“I will not support Judge Gorsuch for the highest court in the land. After carefully examining his judicial record and listening to his testimony, I believe he is a poor choice for the United States Supreme Court.... The Founders’ original intent was never for corporations to become more powerful than citizens. Under a Justice Gorsuch, companies could increase their influence over our elections. Judge Gorsuch has a propensity for ruling against workers in labor and employment disputes. In the so-called “frozen trucker case,” he twisted a statute to insist that a trucker stranded in sub-zero conditions should have been fired for seeking safety. ... Many of Judge Gorsuch’s legal decisions are based on an overly narrow view of our laws. Indeed, during his hearing, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected his legal theory that would have gutted the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”). ... During his hearing, and in our meeting, he repeatedly declined to answer even basic questions. ... Judge Gorsuch has a not-so-hidden agenda. His record as a judge shows he repeatedly used concurring and dissenting opinions to go well beyond the facts of a case to make broad, ideological statements.... I will vote no on cloture and no on his nomination.”

Sen. Feinstein Speaks at Supreme Court Nomination Hearing
(Democrat - California) 03/20/17
"Unfortunately, due to unprecedented treatment, Judge Garland was denied a hearing .... It is the Supreme Court that will have the final word on whether corporations will be able to pollute our air and water with impunity.... Congress relies on agency experts to write the specific rules, regulations, guidelines and procedures necessary to carry out laws we enact. These are what ensure the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to protect our environment from pollution.... Judge Gorsuch’s position, were it to be adopted, would take away agencies’ authorities to address these necessary details.... if we were to dogmatically adhere to “originalist” interpretations, then we would still have segregated schools and bans on interracial marriage. Women wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under the law. And government discrimination against LGBT Americans would be permitted."

Sen. Hirono: Supreme Court Vacancy Is About Future of Our Country
(Democrat - Hawaii) 03/20/17
"[Y]ou have gone to great lengths to disagree with your colleagues on the 10th Circuit so that you can explain why some obscure or novel legal interpretation of a particular word in statute must result in finding for a corporation instead of an individual who has suffered real life harm. This tendency demonstrates a commitment to ideology over common sense, and the purpose of the law, and is deeply troubling.... Will the Court protect our land, water, and earth or gut decades of environmental regulations? Will the Court protect access to our justice system or slam the courthouse doors to all but the wealthiest among us?"

(Democrat - Montana) 02/06/17
"Every Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair shake, and the same goes for Judge Gorsuch. We had a productive meeting, and I will continue to review his qualifications and get feedback from Montanans about his nomination to our nation's top court. As I continue to review his body of work, I will be looking to ensure he understands Montana and our challenges, as well as the Constitution and that he is committed to protecting our freedoms." Following the meeting, Tester expressed concerns about Gorsuch's record on women's access to health care. In the meeting, Tester also questioned Gorsuch on a series of topics that are likely to come before the court, including corporate influence in campaigns, civil liberties, and protecting Montana's clean air and water.

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement: Nomination of Neil Gorsuch [and 60 vote margin]
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/02/17
[S627] "Even though my Republican colleagues chose to ignore their responsibilities when it came to filling that Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, I know we have a constitutional responsibility to give Judge Gorsuch a hearing and a vote.... He was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006, but the level of scrutiny is far higher for Supreme Court nominees and lifetime appointments to the High Court. He now has a lengthy judicial record which we will review carefully. There are parts of his record that already raise questions and concerns. In recent years, we have watched the Supreme Court transform into a corporate Court, where all too often cases seem to break for the big corporations, regularly against the little guy. We need a Supreme Court that gives the American people a fair shot against corporate elites, corporate special interests. Judge Gorsuch's record as a judge and advocate raises concerns as to whether he would hasten that trend toward a corporate court.... Judge Gorsuch appears to have a consistent pattern of favoring companies over workers in cases involving employment discrimination, worker safety, and other matters. ... Is he going to bend toward the corporate interests and look the other way as we face climate change, the pollution of streams, the contamination of our drinking water, and dangers to our public health? ... Since the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, Supreme Court Justices have had to show they can pass the threshold of 60 votes to get confirmed. I expect nothing less from this nominee."

Sen. Feinstein Requests Delay on Sessions Vote, Links Nomination to Weekend Marches
(Democrat - California) 01/24/17
"This nomination is a very big deal. On Sunday, we received 188 pages of responses to questions submitted for the record following the Sessions hearing. ... In addition, we’ve been told that some members may have follow up questions they would like to submit....ensuring equal rights for all, upholding voting rights for all, demanding equal pay for equal work, maintaining worker’s rights and protecting our environment. It is these principles, these values, that the attorney general must defend. ... Many, many millions of Americans are deeply concerned about what the future will bring. That’s a hallmark of what happened this past Saturday in the march. The least we can do is tell them that we’re being as careful as possible in who we place in charge of making these important decisions. For every woman and man who marched over the weekend, we owe it to them."

Sen. Warren motions to vote on 15, 9, 4 and then 1 district court nominees the Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 06/08/16
"Republicans have slowed down the confirmation of judicial nominees to a crawl--the people needed to resolve important legal disputes.... Start with district court judges, the men and women who resolve disputes over how government works and whether the Constitution or Federal laws are being respected. They do an enormous amount of work. Their work is not political. Democratic and Republican Senators have worked with the President to select these nominees. As of today the Senate Judiciary Committee has cleared 15 people who were nominated for seats on the Federal district courts. These nominees have the support of Democrats and Republicans.... On Monday, I wanted to come to the Senate floor to make the request I just made but I guess the majority leader ... didn't want to draw any more attention to the Republicans' unprecedented blockade of judicial nominations. So the Republicans offered me a deal: Just go away, and we will confirm two Court of International Trade judges.... These two uncontroversial nominees have been twisting in the wind for 336 days. They are highly qualified, honorable lawyers who are ready to serve their country. So on Monday, I took the deal. The Republicans released two hostages, and the Senate confirmed them by a voice vote, without objection--not a single objection nearly a year after they were nominated. Today, the majority leader isn't offering to release any hostages ... The Constitution is clear. The Senate's job is to provide advice and consent on the President's judicial nominees. There is no asterisk that says ``only when the majority leader has an embarrassing political problem'' or ``except when the President is named Barrack Obama.'' It is not what the Founders had in mind because it is small, it is petty, and it is absurd. For these district court nominees, the U.S. Senate should be asking one question and one question only: Are these judges qualified or are they not qualified? That is it. But that is not what is happening in the U.S. Senate. Instead, good people twist in the wind, hung up as political hostages, and that is undermining the integrity of our courts. So if you will not give all 15 judges their votes, let's at least have a vote on the 9 district court nominees who had their Judiciary Committee hearings last year. Senator Toomey called for some of these nominees to be confirmed last month. All of these nominees have been waiting for at least 6 months--almost 200 days--since their hearings. When President Reagan was in office, almost no uncontroversial nominees took longer than 100 days to confirm from the day they were nominated. The delay is ridiculous. Give them their votes.... Since they took charge of the Senate last year, these Republicans are on pace for the lowest number of judicial confirmations in more than 60 years."

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."

(Democrat - Oregon) 11/24/14
“A year ago, our nation and our democracy were threatened by partisan obstruction that was packing our courts and preventing our agencies from doing their jobs. ... Moreover, providing a fair Senate vote on President Obama’s nominees to fill three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court – the second most important court in the country – was crucial to restoring the Court’s integrity. The Senate has also more than doubled the pace of votes on judicial nominations. Enabling these nominees to receive fair up-or-down votes will have profound effects on issues that affect Americans every day, from clean air to women’s health to keeping Wall Street in check. With nearly 300 executive and judicial nominees confirmed this past year, we’ve made a real difference and are breaking through the gridlock to help restore a government that works for working Americans.”

Sen. Cardin Statement on SCOTUS Ruling on Carbon Standards
(Democrat - Maryland) 06/24/14
“The proliferation of carbon pollution in our air is a public health issue, an economic issue and a national security issue. The Supreme Court today affirmed the ability and the responsibility of the federal government to set standards with a goal of reducing pollution in the air. While not absolute, this power will protect our communities from air pollutants like lead and mercury. Pollution does not stop at state borders. Strong but flexible carbon pollution standards for power plants are needed at the federal level, which is welcome news for America’s public health and our clean energy future. In Maryland, where we have some of the strictest air pollution standards in the country, we have seen our strong rules contribute to healthier communities and new jobs from a growing economy.”

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement: Global Warming
(Democrat - Illinois) 06/03/14
"The Republican Party of the United States of America is the only major political party in the world today that denies global warming.... I can report one thing that global warming and carbon pollution is producing today. It is producing the No. 1 complaint of children brought to the emergency rooms across America....I can report one thing that global warming and carbon pollution is producing today. It is producing the No. 1 complaint of children brought to the emergency rooms across America."

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Statement on Administration Announcement of Clean Power Plan
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 06/03/14
Let there be no doubt, global climate change is real, it is a fact that we must confront. Our Wisconsin economy faces a growing threat from climate change that demands action. The Clean Power Plan is a bold proposal that offers guidelines and the opportunity for a state-federal partnership to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. In Wisconsin, our energy industry has made great progress working to reduce our carbon emissions and I am pleased that the draft proposal includes the flexibility and timeframe necessary to allow our state to choose from a variety of options to continue down a path to leave the next generation a safer, healthier world."

Sen. Feinstein Welcomes EPA Carbon Emissions Rule
(Democrat - California) 06/02/14

Sen. Merkley Statement on EPA Climate Announcement
(Democrat - Oregon) 06/02/14
"Climate change is no longer a distant hypothetical -- it is here now. It is already waging an assault on Oregon's natural resources, damaging our farming, fishing, and forest industries. Americans don't back down in the face of a challenge. We act. Acting now to cut down on the single biggest source of carbon pollution is absolutely the right thing to do, and I'll keep pushing for further action."

Sen. Markey Statement on EPA Power Plant Climate Rules
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 06/02/14
“This is the beginning of the end of America’s long, dirty power plant era. These new carbon-cutting targets will shift the American clean energy revolution that has already started into overdrive, creating jobs and cutting the pollution that threatens our health, our environment, and our future. Massachusetts is already a leader in developing and deploying clean energy technology and these new rules will increase the demand for businesses in our state. ... Last week, I met with Pope Francis and Vatican leaders about our moral duty to protect the climate. This is our chance to engage in a new era of cleaner energy job creation that will benefit all of creation. I commend President Obama and Administrator McCarthy for their dedication and vision to put forward this historic proposal.”

Sen. Blumenthal Statement On Proposed EPA Guidelines To Cut Carbon Pollution From Existing Power Plants
(Democrat - Connecticut) 06/02/14
“The plan being rolled out today is modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that Connecticut pioneered under the leadership of Gina McCarthy. This is our last best chance to save the planet, and I commend the Administration for putting forward this truly historic proposal, which will protect public health by cutting carbon pollution and ensure a cleaner environment for generations to come. Economic growth and job creation are not in conflict with environmental sustainability, and this proposal rightly reflects that reality.”

(Democrat - Virginia) 06/02/14
“Recent alarming climate trends, including the rise in sea levels in Hampton Roads, demonstrate that we must reduce carbon pollution in energy production."

(Democrat - Hawaii) 06/02/14

Sen. Leahy Praises EPA’s Historic New Limits On Pollution From The Power Sector
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/02/14
"The EPA is doing just what Congress and the Supreme Court has directed under the Clean Air Act: If a pollutant endangers public health and welfare, it must be limited."

Sen. Murphy Floor Statement on Global Warming
(Democrat - Connecticut) 06/02/14
"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said this in their last report: ``Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.'' ... We are 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's is the collection of actions we will take as a community of nations and a community of individuals that will ultimately make the difference."