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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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A NEW FEDERAL JUDGE FOR IDAHO: GUEST COLUMN SUBMITTED BY U.S. SENATORS MIKE CRAPO AND JIM RISCH
(Republican - Idaho) 07/24/17
"In spite of the hyper-partisan climate in our nation’s capital, in a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 100-0, the U.S. Senate recently confirmed Judge David Nye to serve as the next United States District Judge for the District of Idaho. ... To address the need for an additional judge in Idaho, the Idaho Congressional Delegation continues to press for the addition of a third judgeship.... Judge Nye was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the open U.S. District Court judgeship in Idaho. He was previously nominated to the same position by President Barack Obama in 2016 and approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The 114th Congress concluded without completing the confirmation process."

Sens. Rubio, Nelson Introduce Bill Authorizing Additional Florida Judgeships
(Republican - Florida) 05/25/17
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years. “The overwhelming caseload facing our judges is an undue burden for both our judicial system and the people of Florida,” said Rubio. “By following the recommendations of the Judicial Conference in authorizing these judgeships, we can help ensure a more efficient judicial system. I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Nelson and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to authorize these important judgeships for Florida as it will have short and long term benefits for our judges and residents.”

[Sen. Nelson] Rubio, Nelson Introduce Bill Authorizing Additional Florida Judgeships
(Democrat - Florida) 05/25/17
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years.... “Florida’s federal courts are some of the busiest in the country,” said Nelson. “This bill will help provide Floridians with better access to our legal system.”

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.

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.

ID Sens. on district court nominee & need to create new judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 06/21/16
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch introduced Nye to the committee, highlighted his credentials and unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association, and urged the panel not only to swiftly approve his nomination, but also to consider their legislation to give Idaho a third federal district judgeship. “It’s been a while since Idaho senators have appeared before this committee,” Crapo said, “as Idaho is one of only three states having just two authorized district court judgeships. The nonpartisan Judicial Conference of the United States has declared a judicial emergency for Idaho and has recommended in every one of its reports to Congress since 2003 that Idaho be authorized for a third district court judgeship. Unfortunately, the last time Congress authorized any new judgeships, district judgeships, for any state was in 2002. So we just missed out.” “The result is that we have a three-judge caseload state being handled by two judges,” Crapo told the committee. “And since last July, when Judge (Edward) Lodge took senior status, creating the vacancy we are seeking to address today, we have been a three caseload state being handled by only one active judge.” “What’s even more challenging,” Crapo said, “is that our one remaining active judge, (Judge B. Lynn Winmill,) is eligible to take senior status this coming March. I look forward to working with the committee to pass the legislation that Sen. Risch and I have introduced, to authorize a third district court judgeship for Idaho, to prevent any such emergency from happening in the future. But first, I strongly encourage this committee to approve Judge Nye’s nomination as soon as possible, so that the people of Idaho can continue to be assured that they will be served by well-qualified judges.” Risch seconded that. “I know that things around here don’t move quickly, and I also know that they are governed by longstanding traditions, but Sen. Crapo and I have worked diligently to fill this seat,” he said. “As we all know, Idaho is a conservative state, and we have an administration that is not so much, and so the challenge was great. But I would say this: I would commend the White House for the way this was handled. We worked incredibly well with President Obama’s staff in the give-and-take that’s necessary to fill the spot. And we went through dozens and dozens of applicants to finally arrive at Judge Nye. And where we are right now is we have enthusiastic support from Sen. Crapo and myself and also from President Obama.”

Senators Crapo and Risch Introduce Judge David Nye [Video]
(Republican - Idaho) 06/21/16
On Tuesday, June 21, Senators Crapo and Risch introduced Sixth District Judge David Nye of Pocatello, to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Nye has been nominated to be Idaho’s next U.S. District Court judge.

Sen. Coons on judicial vacancies, nominees & need to create new judgeships
(Democrat - Delaware) 10/15/15
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) during a dean’s lecture held at Yale Law School... remarked that he was frustrated about the impeded progress in filling vacancies on the federal bench. He said the Obama administration has been “spectacularly unsuccessful” in filling the federal bench with its nominees for a variety of reasons, but all point to “Republican obstructions.” Coons justified his perspective by citing how “the number of vacancies there were two years and four years and now seven years in the Obama administration is at almost every point nearly double what it has been in the two previous Republican administrations.” Furthermore, the Senator said that he and the other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have had “huge and difficult fights” over nominees for federal judgeships even at the district court level.... “We haven’t increased the federal judiciary in any meaningful way since 1994, and we have a crisis in a number of districts, like Delaware, which [has] the highest case burdened court in America,” Coons remarked. Thus, “adding to the federal bench, confirming this administration’s nominees has been hugely challenging and frustrating,” said Coons

Sen. Feinstein Applauds Senate Approval of Drozd Nomination
(Democrat - California) 10/05/15
“Five different United States Attorneys who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations over more than 20 years have endorsed his nomination.... I would also add a point from the U.S. Attorneys’ letter about the crushing caseload in this district. Their letter states: “[o]ur district has an extremely heavy case load and has been operating with a vacant judgeship for two and a half years. It is vitally important to the fair administration of justice that the long-vacant judicial vacancy in our Fresno district be promptly filled.” This is a point that bears repeating: the case load in the Eastern District of California is extraordinarily large, and has been for many years. ... it covers 55 percent of California’s land area. The district has only six judgeships for a population of nearly eight million people, and it has almost two times as many people per judgeship as the average U.S. district court. Over the last six years, the court has had nearly three times as many pending cases per judgeship (more than 1400) than the national average (569). These numbers translate into lengthy times for cases to be resolved. Over the last several years, it has taken between 38 and 51 months for civil cases to get to trial – well above the national average of 26 months. Criminal cases now take over 20 months to be resolved currently, almost three times the national average of 7.4 months. The point is this: the Eastern District of California is in serious need of additional judges. I have worked for many years to create those positions, and I believe very strongly that they are needed. Today, I am pleased that the Senate is taking the small step of voting on this nomination."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judicial Vacancies and Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/05/15
"They have allowed only six judges to be confirmed so far this year under the Obama administration, as opposed to 33 whom we had confirmed during the Bush administration.... I hear all the time from individuals and from small businesses about how they go into our Federal courts seeking justice; they want the Federal courts to hear these claims and these courts are saying: We can't. We have so many vacancies in the judiciary, it will be years before we can hear your case....because of the unprecedented nature of Republican obstruction, vacancies have increased by more than 50 percent, from 43 to 68. Additionally, the number of Federal court vacancies deemed to be ``judicial emergencies'' by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has increased by 158 percent since the beginning of the year. There are now 31.... Those home State Republican Senators who have issued press releases and have publicly supported their judicial nominees should take the next step and ask their leader to schedule up-or-down votes.... I have heard Senator Toomey indicate his strong support and that he would like to see Judge Restrepo receive a vote, but I have yet to see him ask for a firm commitment on a vote.... I have heard Senator Toomey indicate his strong support and that he would like to see Judge Restrepo receive a vote, but I have yet to see him ask for a firm commitment on a vote."

Sen. Gardner Announces Evaluation Committee to Fill Colorado Judgeship
(Republican - Colorado) 08/03/15
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today announced a Judicial Evaluation Committee that will begin vetting applicants for an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. District Court of Colorado. In April 2016, Judge Robert Blackburn will take senior status, creating a vacancy on the seven-judge bench. The number of judgeships on the court has remained the same for over 30 years, despite the state’s population growing by 65 percent and judicial workload steadily increasing. Now the court is one of the busiest in the country, with over 600 weighted cases per judgeship. Filling this vacancy quickly would keep the District Court fully staffed and at least maintain the status quo.... “I take my responsibility to recommend Colorado judicial nominees to the President seriously and there is particular urgency in filling this vacancy,” said Gardner. “I am confident that the members of the Committee, who are some of Colorado’s finest legal experts, will thoroughly review all applications and make careful recommendations based on each applicant’s merits and qualifications. I encourage Coloradans interested in serving on the District Court to submit an application, and I look forward to seeing the Committee’s recommendations.”

Feinstein Applauds Judiciary Committee Approval of Drozd Nomination
(Democrat - California) 06/04/15
“I would like to say to my colleagues that Magistrate Judge Dale Drozd enjoys my full support for his appointment to be a U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of California.... Five different United States Attorneys who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations over the course of over 20 years have endorsed his nomination ... I would also add a point from the U.S. Attorneys’ letter about the crushing caseload in this district. Their letter states: ‘[o]ur district has an extremely heavy case load and has been operating with a vacant judgeship for two and a half years. It is vitally important to the fair administration of justice that the long-vacant judicial vacancy in our Fresno district be promptly filled.’ As my colleagues may know, the Eastern District has only six judgeships for 55 percent of California’s land area and a population of nearly 8 million people. The district currently has over 1,000 weighted filings per judgeship. It has topped over 1,100 in several recent years. This is about twice the national average. The Eastern District is consistently ranked at or near the top of federal districts needing additional judgeships."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/20/15
"Judge Hanks is just the second judicial nominee that we have voted to confirm more than 3 months into the 114th Congress. The slow trickle of confirmations that the new majority has allowed is undermining the functioning of our Federal courts and is hurting the American people. This past month, the Wall Street Journal wrote an alarming article about the backlog of civil cases in our Federal courts. ... First, the Senate should confirm every single one of the nine judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar without further delay. Besides Judge Hanks , there are two other Federal district court nominees pending on the Executive Calendar, both from States with two Republican home State Senators. Both of those nominees were reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously by voice vote. One of the nominees will fill a judicial emergency vacancy in Texas that has remained unfilled for more than 2 years. This type of neglect is unacceptable. In addition, there are five other nominees to the Court of Federal Claims and a nominee for the Court of International Trade. None of these nominees are controversial and they could easily be confirmed by a simple voice vote if Republicans would allow. After today's confirmation vote, there will be 53 vacancies on our Federal courts. But even if we filled every one of these vacancies, we still would have to address the growing needs of our co-equal branch of government that is struggling with heavy caseloads. Last month, the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, identified the need for adding 73 permanent judgeships, as well as converting 9 temporary district court judgeships to permanent status. The Senate should be working in a bipartisan manner to provide the Federal Judiciary with the resources it needs, including the addition of woefully-needed additional judgeships."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Confirmations
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/26/15
"The refusal by the Senate Republican leadership to schedule votes on any Federal judges is completely contrary to historical precedent. This is also in stark contrast to the way Democrats treated President Bush’s judicial nominees. During the Bush administration we were able to reduce overall judicial vacancies from 110 down to 28.... we confirmed 68 district and circuit court judges in those last two years.... The refusal to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee this year comes despite the fact that four of these nominees have languished on the Senate floor for a month and were recommended to President Obama by their two Republican home state Senators. Three of these pending nominees will fill district court vacancies in Texas, two of which have been designated by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts as “judicial emergency” vacancies. I would urge the current Assistant Republican Leader, who represents Texas, to work to schedule votes to fill those vacancies.... We started this Congress with 44 judicial vacancies, including 12 vacancies deemed judicial emergencies. Today, there are 55 vacancies, including 23 judicial emergency vacancies.... Filling the current vacancies is necessary but not sufficient. Last week the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, identified the need for adding 5 permanent judgeships to the courts of appeals, and 68 permanent judgeships to the district courts, as well as converting 9 temporary district court judgeships to permanent status."

Sen. Feinstein on Judicial Conference renewed recognition of need for many more Eastern District of California judgeships
(Democrat - California) 03/13/15
“The caseload in the Eastern District is nearly twice the national average, which hurts all parties with business before the court, including the public and federal prosecutors,” Feinstein said. “It is welcome news that the Judicial Conference has again recognized the need for many new permanent judgeships in the Eastern District. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate and House to get that done.”

Senator Coons named top Democrat on financial services appropriations subcommittee
(Democrat - Delaware) 01/09/15
U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) will be the ranking member — the top Democrat — on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government in the 114th Congress. ... The Subcommittee also oversees funding for the entire federal judiciary. “Equal representation under the law is one of our nation’s bedrock values,” Senator Coons said. “Yet too often we don’t provide our judiciary with the funding or investment necessary to ensure justice is administered fairly, equally, and swiftly. It’s critical that Congress does more to value the role our judiciary plays in our democracy, and as ranking member, I’m going to do everything I can to ensure Congress dedicates the resources that America’s justice system requires.” Senator Coons is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has authorizing responsibility for the federal bench."

CA Senators on Judge Dale A. Drozd district court nomination and need to create new judgeships
(Democrat - California) 11/13/14
Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted that Drozd is the chief magistrate judge in California’s eastern federal judicial district, which includes both Fresno and Sacramento. “I believe he knows the court very well and can hit the ground running,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I am hopeful for a smooth confirmation.” California’s other senator, Barbara Boxer, was equally complimentary. “He is a highly qualified nominee who as chief magistrate judge has served the Eastern District with distinction,” she said. “I hope my colleagues in the Senate will swiftly confirm him.” ... Feinstein said she has been working — unsuccessfully, so far — to “create additional judgeships on the eastern district of California because I know how dire the caseload is for the judges and parties who appear before them.”

Idaho Senators on judicial selection and need to create new judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 09/25/14
U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo are likely to work with President Barack Obama to find a replacement for U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge.... Risch pointed to what he called the "blue-slip custom" in the U.S. Senate. "It's not widely discussed, but it is a common practice in the United States Senate," Risch said Thursday. "Unless both U.S. senators sign the blue slip and return it to the judiciary and rules committee, that (nominee) will not leave the judiciary and rules committee." He added that, by custom, every senator maintains some control of a nomination - with "veto power" - over who is appointed from the senator's state to the federal bench.... "I look forward to working with the president to select a nominee as part of the senate's role in the advice and consent process," Crapo said Thursday. Crapo said he also will continue to push for legislation sponsored by Idaho's congressional delegation to create a permanent third District Court judge for Idaho. Risch said initially there will likely be a lot of whispering about who should get the appointment. "There will be people who won't be acceptable to Senator Crapo or I, and there will be people who won't be acceptable to the president," Risch said. "But at the end of the day, we'll come up with somebody and fill the spot."

Sen. Leahy statement On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/18/14
"Senate Republicans are refusing to allow confirmation votes on the more than 20 judicial nominees who will now be stuck in limbo for months. There is no good reason why the Senate cannot confirm these nominees before the recess other than wholesale obstruction of a co-equal branch of government’s nominees. The Senate Republicans’ baseless obstruction includes blocking from consideration nominations made to their home states....we have reduced the vacancies on our Federal courts from 92 to 59, but ... The Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships ... There remain 59 vacancies on the Federal bench – far more than the 45 vacancies at this point during the Bush administration. There are an additional 25 announced future judicial vacancies ... , we must return to session as soon as possible after the elections in November to complete our important work. The American people deserve courts capable of providing access to swift justice, not empty courtrooms and delays."

Sen. Patrick Leahy statement [on judicial nominees, delays, filibusters, confirmations, need to create judgeships, Texas and other vacancies]
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/31/14
"[F]or the fifth year in a row, more than a dozen qualified, consensus judicial nominees pending before the full Senate will remain on the Executive Calendar during the August recess. ... We could be voting today to confirm 13 nominees to serve on our Federal courts, 12 of whom were reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee by unanimous voice vote. ... Since the beginning of this year, we have reduced the vacancies on our Federal courts by over a third, from 92 to 57, and reduced the number of judicial emergency vacancies by nearly half, from 37 to 19. ... In addition to the 57 current vacancies, the Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships in some of America's judicial districts and circuits with the most burdensome caseloads. Last year, Senator Coons and I introduced the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 to enact these recommendations into law. ...There remain 57 vacancies on the Federal bench--far more than the 42 vacancies at this point during the Bush administration. There are an additional 24 announced future vacancies ... The incredible burden facing Federal courts in Texas is understandable with its nine current district court vacancies--more than any other State. ...I also hope that the Texas Senators will continue to work with the administration on nominees to fill the six other current district vacancies in their State as well as the four known future district court vacancies."

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."

Sens. Crapo, Risch Introduce Legislation To Provide Idaho A Third District Judge: State’s population has grown and the caseload doubled since the last district judge was added sixty years ago
(Republican - Idaho) 02/13/14
“The need for an additional judge in Idaho has been widely recognized for years,” said Crapo. “The District of Idaho has been working to meet the needs of the district while facing growing personnel and financial challenges. Advancing this productivity by adding an additional judgeship to the court would help ensure effective access to justice for Idaho’s increasing population.”

Sen. Risch: Crapo, Risch Introduce Legislation to Provide Idaho a Third District Judge: State's population has grown and the caseload doubled since the last district judge was added sixty years ago
(Republican - Idaho) 02/13/14
“It is past time for the District of Idaho to have a third judgeship,” said Risch. “It is unfair that Idaho is at such a great disadvantage compared to other states of our size. A third judgeship would help in the administration of efficient and effective justice in our state.”

Sen. Leahy Statement on On the Nominations of Patricia Campbell-Smith and Elaine Kaplan [and more]
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/16/13
"There is no good reason why we could not also vote to confirm the consensus and noncontroversial Article III nominees on the Calendar. One effect of these unnecessary delays is that for the first time in nearly two years, our Federal district courts are again facing what the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service calls “historically high” vacancies. This means that there are now more seats empty on the districts courts than there were during 90 percent of the time during the 34 years after the Ford Administration."

Sen. Coons Statement on Access to Justice [budget & new judgeships bill]
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/12/13
"[T]his bill, is in direct response to the analytical work of the nonpartisan Judicial Conference. This change is long overdue. Congress has not comprehensively addressed judicial staffing levels since 1990--23 years ago--and the trial court weighted filings per judgeship have risen from 386 back then to 520 today. Those national figures actually mask even more dramatic circumstances faced by the most burdened districts in Texas, Delaware, and California.... At that hearing, I appreciated and was encouraged by the statement of my colleague from Alabama that, in fact, the District of Delaware deserves another judge due to its incredible caseload. I would argue, though, and the evidence suggests, that the need is not confined to my State but to districts all across the country....We don't need more delays; we need more judges, and we need to act together to get it done now."

Sen. Leahy Statement at Judicial Nominations hearing
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/11/13
"In 1984 Senate Republicans had no problem voting to create a twelfth seat on the D.C. Circuit, and then voting to confirm President Reagan’s and President George H.W. Bush’s nominees to that seat. When Bill Clinton, a Democratic president, nominated Merrick Garland to the twelfth seat, Senate Republicans suddenly had an epiphany that the twelfth seat was unnecessary and should not be filled. Later, Senate Republicans continued to oppose the confirmation of Judge Garland even for his nomination to fill the eleventh seat. It is quite astonishing that Senate Republicans continue to recycle these arguments every time a Democratic President is in office. Now they say that only eight seats are needed. ... This effort to manipulate the size of an important court in order to achieve political goals is simply wrong. Just as President Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme was rejected in 1937 by the Judiciary Committee and the Senate, the Senate should reject this attempt to politicize the D.C. Circuit. The filibuster threats against President Obama’s well-qualified nominees are purely political, and they are unworthy of this chamber."

Sen. Coons: Opening Statement: Chairing Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Federal Judgeship Act of 2013
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/10/13
"As Chief Justice Roberts noted in his 2010 year end report on the judiciary, “the judiciary depends not only on funding, but on its judges, to carry out [its] mission.” Unfilled vacancies have led judges in many districts to be “burdened with extraordinary caseloads.” So, too, does insufficient statutory authorization for judgeships burden our courts. ... Congress has not comprehensively addressed judicial staffing levels since 1990, 23 years ago. Over that time, caseloads have risen nearly 40% yet authorized staffing levels have risen by just 4%. Put another way, trial court weighted filings per judgeship have risen from 386 in 1991 to roughly 520 today. Those national figures mask the dire circumstances faced by the most burdened districts"

Sen. Leahy Statement on Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 [and on need to fill D.C. Circuit vacancies]
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/10/13
"The last time Congress passed a comprehensive judgeships bill was 1990, when 85 new judgeships were created.... The Coons-Leahy bill reflectsthe current judgeship recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, whose presiding officer is Chief Justice John Roberts. ... Republican bill, S. 699, would eliminate one Federal judgeship altogether, while moving one to the Second Circuit and another to the Eleventh Circuit, even though neither circuit has actually requested additional judgeships. This would reduce the D.C. Circuit to only eight judgeships.It is disappointing that all eight Republican Senators on this Committee are supporters of this judgeship stripping bill, even though they have voted a combined 42 times to confirm Republican presidents’ nominees to the same seats they now seek to remove."

Senator Patrick Leahy Statement On the Nominations of Valerie Caproni & Vernon Broderick, delay & obstruction of judicial nominations and confirmations, and need for new judgeships
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/09/13
"The Republicans’ effort to obstruct and delay the confirmations of nominees means that over the course of President Obama’s administration the number of judicial vacancies nearly doubled. In January 2009, there were 53 Federal district and appellate court vacancies. Today, there are 94 Federal district and appellate court vacancies—37 of which have been designated as judicial emergency vacancies by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts....Tomorrow, Senator Coons will chair another hearing in that Subcommittee to evaluate the judgeship needs of Federal courts across the country and hear testimony on the Coons-Leahy Federal Judgeship Act of 2013, which would implement the Judicial Conference’s recommendations for desperately-needed new judgeships."

Sen. Leahy Statement On the Nomination of Raymond Chen [and on other judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Vermont) 08/09/13
"Today, the Senate confirms the 200th of President Obama’s circuit and district nominees. Thanks to Senate Republicans’ concerted effort to filibuster, obstruct and delay his moderate judicial nominees, it took almost one year longer to reach this milestone than it did when his Republican predecessor was serving as President, over 10 months in fact. ... So the Republicans’ effort to obstruct and delay the confirmations of President Obama’s nominees means that we have essentially not been permitted to make any net progress in filling vacancies. We have barely kept up with attrition.... compared to the same point in the Bush administration, there have been more nominees filibustered, fewer confirmations, and longer wait times for nominees, even though President Obama has nominated more people and there are more vacancies. ... I hope that Senate Republicans will end their misguided attempt to strip the D.C. Circuit of three seats and that we will be allowed to consider her nomination on the merits of the nominee.... In addition to the 87 current vacancies, the Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships, so that the people who live in the busiest districts can nonetheless have access to speedy justice. Earlier this week, Senator Coons and I introduced a bill to create those judgeships... Eleven of the twelve circuit and district nominees currently pending before the Senate were reported by voice vote. There is no reason we cannot consider all 12 today."