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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. Cantwell, Senators Demand Strong Rules to Stop Illegal Shark Finning; In letter, 10 senators ask NOAA to withdraw a provision that could undermine state laws against shark finning; Washington state’s strong law to combat shark finning could be at risk
(Democrat - Washington) 07/31/13
“Scientists estimate that between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed every year to supply the global demand for shark fins,” the senators wrote in the letter to NOAA. “Within the proposed rule, NMFS indicates that state and territorial statutes that are designed to combat finning by prohibiting the possession, sale, and distribution of detached shark fins after the point of landing could be preempted. The preemption provision in the draft rule would take away a much-needed tool to protect and recover dwindling shark populations.” ...Cantwell was joined on the letter by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

Sen. Franken Opening Statement: Confirmation Hearing of Elena Kagan
(Democrat - Minnesota) 06/30/10
"I think we established very convincingly during the Sotomayor hearings that there is such a thing as judicial activism. There is such a thing as legislating from the bench. And it is practiced repeatedly by the Roberts Court, where it has cut in only one direction: in favor of powerful corporate interests, and against the rights of individual Americans. ...Minnesota has more wetlands than all but three states. And yet in a case called Rapanos, the Court cut countless streams and wetlands out of the Clean Water Act—even though they'd been covered for up to 30 years."

Sen. Kaufman Opening Statement: Confirmation Hearing for Elena Kagan
(Democrat - Delaware) 06/30/10
"Whether it's pre-empting state consumer protection laws in Medtronic, striking down punitive damages awards in Exxon, restricting access to the courts in Twombly, or overruling 96 years of pro-consumer antitrust law in Leegin, this Court gives me the impression that in business cases, the working majority is business-oriented to a fault. The Exxon case demonstrates how this pro-business orientation can affect the lives of ordinary people. In that case, four of the eight Justices who participated voted to bar all punitive damages in maritime cases against employers like Exxon for their employees' reckless conduct. Justice Alito did not participate in the case, so the Court split four-to-four on this point. But had he participated, and voted with the conservatives on the Court, then today individuals harmed by oil spills like Exxon Valdez would be subject to a flat ban on punitive damages in maritime actions. As we consider the current disaster in the Gulf, that prospect is worth contemplating."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Opening Statement: Confirmation Hearing of Elena Kagan
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 06/28/10
"Sadly, the Supreme Court seems to be buying what corporations are selling. The Exxon v. Baker decision, which arose from the terrible Exxon Valdez spill, rejected a jury's award of $5 billion in punitive damages – just one year's profits for Exxon – and reduced the award by 90%. Anything more than the compensatory damage award, the Court reasoned, would make punitive damages too unpredictable for corporations. The judgment of the jury, and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, were for the Court lesser values than providing corporations "predictability." Well what of the unpredictability for Alaska of Exxon's drunken captain running his ship aground? And one can't help but wonder now what additional precautions BP might have taken in the Gulf if that corporation didn't know that the Supreme Court had its back on "predictability"."

Leahy Joins Kennedy, Others To Introduce Bill To Reverse Supreme Court Medical Device Decision
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/09
“This legislation will make explicit that the preemption clause in the medical device amendments upon which the Court relied does not, and never was intended to preempt the common law claims of consumers injured by a federally approved medical device.”

Sen. Leahy Comment On Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Jury Award To Vermont Musician
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/04/09
"While recent Supreme Court decisions have shielded big business from accountability and have undermined stronger state consumer protections, this ruling alters that earlier course and affirms that Congress never intended to preempt state laws in the way claimed by Wyeth and the Bush-Cheney administration, claimed. "

Leahy: Every Consumer Has A Stake In Vermonter’s Election-Eve Day In Court
(Independent - Vermont) 11/03/08
"We have recently seen how a one vote majority eliminated Lilly Ledbetter's pay discrimination verdict by misconstruing congressional intent. The danger is real of the Court striking down still more laws passed by Congress to protect workers, consumers, retirees, religious minorities, and the environment. During this historic election, I hope Vermonters, and all Americans, will carefully consider the future of the Supreme Court. The biggest corporate polluters and anti-consumer lobbyists are certainly paying attention."