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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Rep. Norton Asks the President for Courtesy of Consultation on Federal Law Enforcement Officials in D.C.
(Democrat - District of Columbia) 03/20/17
The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released Norton’s letter to President Donald Trump requesting that he extend her the courtesy of consulting on the appointment of the U.S. Attorney, federal district court judges and other Senate-confirmed federal law enforcement officials in the District of Columbia—the same courtesy extended to her by President George W. Bush.... In her letter, Norton wrote, “Since the District has no senators, presidents of both parties have provided me a role in the nomination of federal district court judges and Senate-confirmed federal law enforcement officials in the District. As a member of the same political party, Presidents Clinton and Obama extended me the courtesy to recommend such officials in the same manner as Democratic senators…As a member of a different political party, President George W. Bush extended me the courtesy to consult on nominations.”

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. 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. 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.”

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."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on expiration of Merrick Garland nomination
(Republican - Kentucky) 01/03/17
“I’ve been clear throughout that the next president would name the next Supreme Court justice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said through a spokesman. “Now, the president who won the election will make the nomination, and the Senate the American people just re-elected will consider that nomination.”

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. 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. Democratic Leader Schumer on expiration of Merrick Garland nomination
(Democrat - New York) 01/03/17
“What Senate Republicans did to Judge Garland, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution was appalling. Judge Garland is respected on both sides of the aisle,” Mr. Schumer said through a spokesman. “That he did not even get so much as a hearing will be a stain on the legacy of the Republican Senate.”

Senate Minority Leader Schumer Floor Speech
(Democrat - New York) 01/03/17
"We will hold the President-elect accountable if he doesn’t nominate a mainstream Supreme Court Justice. President Obama nominated a mainstream candidate in Merrick Garland. President-elect Trump should do the same."

Sens. Feinstein and Harris on need for two home-state Senator blue slips for circuit and district court nominees
(Democrat - California) 12/30/16
The blue slip is “an important historical tool that prevents the president from forcing a federal judge, U.S. attorney or U.S. marshal through the Senate,” and is “designed to ensure nominees are qualified and well-suited to serve their states,” Feinstein said in a statement Friday. Michael Troncoso, co-director of Harris’ Senate transition team, said, “If nominees for judge or U.S. attorney lack appropriate experience or have extreme views, that’s the reason you have a blue slip.”

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.

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. 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.

Sen. Sherrod Brown on nominations
(Democrat - Ohio) 12/04/16
Democrats argue that some of the president-elect’s more controversial Cabinet picks — such as Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary — demand a thorough public airing. “They’ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We’re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?” fumed Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “It’s not obstruction, it’s not partisan, it’s just a duty to find out what they’d do in these jobs.”

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."

Floor Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/29/16
"[F]or the past two years the Republican Party has enjoyed solid majorities in both the House and Senate. They control the schedule and the process. They can decide which legislation to call up for debate, and frankly for all intents and purposes, they can decide whether anything gets done around here. A good example is the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. If he had been treated like other Supreme Court nominees throughout the entire history of this country, he would have received a hearing and a vote and he almost certainly would have been easily confirmed just as he was when he was nominated to the DC Court of Appeals. Instead, the Republican leadership did not even give Judge Garland a hearing, much less a vote. The Republican Senators refused to do their job."

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.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley will continue to honor the blue-slip process
(Republican - Iowa) 11/11/16
"Democrats still have some levers to pull in the Senate if they object to a lower-court nominee. When a president makes a judicial nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee sends a form known as a “blue slip” to the senators from the nominee’s home state. If both senators return the slips, the chairman of the committee typically moves the nominee forward. If one or both withholds them, tradition dictates that the nomination languish. ... Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will continue to honor the blue-slip process, said Taylor Foy, a committee spokesman."

Sen. Joni Ernst would consider Clinton Supreme Court picks
(Republican - Iowa) 11/01/16
Sen. Joni Ernst flatly rejected Tuesday a strategy floated by some of her fellow Senate Republicans to block any Supreme Court appointments Hillary Clinton might make if she is elected president. “I don’t support that type of approach,” Ernst said. “I will look at the nominees.” The Iowa senator was quick to add that she wasn’t committing to voting for every Clinton nominee; she would first review their records to see whether they are committed to upholding the Constitution. But she disagreed with refusing to consider them, .... "making sure that our next president has the opportunity to select their nominee for the United States Supreme Court,” Ernst said.

Sen. Capito on Supreme Court nominees
(Republican - West Virginia) 11/01/16
“I would disagree strongly with Sen. Cruz’s recent comments,” Capito said. “I think making a blanket statement that nominees should be blocked for four years leads to partisan gridlock and that is not a direction I would want to go.” But Capito added that she wants the next justice to have a record of supporting gun rights and opposing environmental regulations like the Clean Power Plan -- requirements that would likely lead to deadlock anyway if Clinton wins the election and Republicans keep control of the Senate. … With the court losing its most conservative voice in Scalia, Capito says she wants to ensure that a conservative replaces him. “I am looking for somebody who would add a conservative voice to the court, somebody who has a more strict interpretation of the constitution,” Capito said, adding that she believes that is what West Virginians want as well…. Capito reiterated Monday that she opposed Garland’s nomination because it was too close to the presidential election, though Obama nominated the current federal appeals court judge nearly eight months before the Nov. 8 election. Capito still believes Trump will win the Presidency, and she said everything at this point is hypothetical because Clinton has not named the people she would consider for the lifetime seat. She added that she would not “prejudge any candidates.”

Sen. Manchin on Supreme Court nominees
(Democrat - West Virginia) 11/01/16
“I will give fair consideration to all Supreme Court nominees under any president and will evaluate their qualifications, legal record and judicial philosophy,” Joe Manchin said in a prepared statement. “I believe any nominee deserves to be questioned by a Senate committee, meet with Senators and have their qualifications debated on the Senate floor.”