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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


Senator's Party
Senator's State

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. Tom Udall Floor Statement Opposing Failed Amendment to Delist Threatened Species
(Democrat - New Mexico) 01/28/15
"I rise today to oppose the Moran amendment, which would delist the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. To be clear, I appreciate some of the concerns about this listing by farmers, ranchers, and industry. I am concerned about any unintended consequences this listing may have on rural New Mexicans. I strongly support and I assume the Senator from Kansas supports the bipartisan five-State effort for a thorough review. The Fish and Wildlife Service took numerous steps in this process to respond to all stakeholders and to enable habitat conservation and economic growth. New Mexico has been and continues to be a leader in cooperative conservation in places where the prairie chicken is found. Ranchers and oil and gas industries deserve their praise for their efforts. So it is working and the sky is not falling, but we should not take this top-down political approach. Listing and delisting of the species by Congress goes against the intent of the law, which requires the government to make these decisions based on science, not politics."

Sen. Moran Floor Statement for unsuccessful amendment
(Republican - Kansas) 01/28/15
"The consequences of listing the lesser prairie chicken that results from a drought is so dramatic and so damaging to the Kansas economy and to the farmers and ranchers and the use of their lands, to the oil and gas industry and the exploration of oil and gas, and to the utility industry in regard to the production and transmission of electricity that this amendment is necessary to set aside that listing as a threatened species and to allow interest holders in Kansas to come together and find a commonsense solution based upon sound science to protect the habitat of this bird."

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."

Sen. Orrin Hatch Statement on District Court Decision on Prairie Dogs
(Republican - Utah) 11/06/14
“I’m glad the court has stepped in to protect the property rights of Utahns,” Hatch said. “I’ve worked on this issue for a long time, and this decision is a direct result of the tremendous efforts of the members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Iron County Commission, and the people of Iron County. This is the first time a federal court has found that Endangered Species Act regulations limiting the taking of a listed species exceed the scope of Congress’s enumerated powers. The court’s decision confirms what we have said all along: the federal government has no business interfering with property rights where the allegedly endangered species has no connection to, or effect on, interstate commerce. I will continue to fight the federal government’s unnecessary intrusions in the state of Utah.”

Sen. Feinstein Statement on House Water Legislation
(Democrat - California) 01/29/14
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement after House Republicans introduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act: ... “The bill undermines state law related to Bay Delta restoration and endangered species. It overrides the court-approved San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement, which all parties involved still agree with. And it ends any possibility of a balanced solution to restore the Bay Delta."

Protect the Endangered Species Act
(Democrat - Maryland) 12/27/13
By Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Jim Moran: " Wisely, the drafters of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 recognized that halting the extinction of wildlife and plants meant taking measures to protect the ecosystems — the habitats — where imperiled species live. As a result, the act's habitat provisions have resulted in the preservation of millions of acres of forests, plains and waterways, providing a sanctuary for the listed species and an oasis of nature for the people and wildlife who share those habitats.... As senior leaders serving on the authorizing and appropriating subcommittees of jurisdiction, we are committed to fighting off attempts by some in Congress to weaken the Endangered Species Act. "

Celebrating 40 Years of the Endangered Species Act
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 12/21/13
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: "iconic creatures of our region are afforded special protections under the Endangered Species Act, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month.... We must ensure that the Endangered Species Act remains effective in the face of a changing climate.... orty years ago, we made a promise to do what we could to shield the animals and plants of the Earth from extinction. Today, the threats are worse than then. So it’s up to all of us to live up to the promise of the Endangered Species Act."

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. Cardin ENDANGERED SPECIES DAY Floor Statement
(Democrat - Maryland) 05/19/11
"Since becoming law 38 years ago, with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives and unanimous support in the Senate, the ESA has been one of our Nation's most successful environmental statutes. The ESA not only improves outcomes for endangered and threatened species , it also improves local and regional economies. According to a 2006 Fish and Wildlife Service survey, wildlife-related recreation--meaning hunting, fishing and wildlife watching--generated more than $122 billion in revenues in 2006. ... The Endangered Species Act , with its proven record of success in restoring species to health, remains a critically important tool in the protection of our natural environment."

Sen. Feinstein Floor Statement in Support of Sotomayor Nomination
(Democrat - California) 08/04/09
"I have said before, and I say today, I am somewhat concerned about the current Supreme Court. As I see it, conservative activists have succeeded in moving our Court to the right of mainstream American thought. ... It held that the Endangered Species Act did not apply to certain Federal actions—even though the Court, in 1978, said the Act had ‘‘no exception.’’ This is National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife, 551 U.S. 644, 2007.... Supreme Court Justices do not merely call balls and strikes; they make decisions that determine whether acts of Congress will stand or fall. They decide how far the law will go to protect the safety and rights of all of us."

Senators Feinstein, Collins and a Bipartisan Group of 8 Senators Introduce Third Annual “Endangered Species Day” Resolution
(Democrat - California) 04/17/08
“This day will bring attention to the urgent need to protect endangered species and educate Americans about ongoing conservation efforts,” Senator Feinstein said. “We know these programs can be successful. You have no further to look than the efforts to increase populations of the California condor and the California grey whale. What we need is more recovery programs like these to preserve our planet’s rich biodiversity. More than 300 species classified as either endangered or threatened currently call California home, and efforts to protect them will ensure that they continue to do so.”

Senator Barbara Boxer on Supreme Court ESA Decision
(Democrat - California) 06/26/07
"The narrow 5-4 majority of the Court has misread the Endangered Species Act, failed to grasp the intent of Congress, and ignored the will of the American people by cutting back on protections for our imperiled species."

Sen. Chafee Floor Statement in Opposition to Alito Nomination
(Republican - Rhode Island) 01/31/06
"the commerce clause the most powerful provision in the Constitution providing Congress the authority to enact legislation in a host of areas—including environmental protection....using the ‘‘aggregate effects test’’ or ‘‘substantial effects test’’ Congress has passed broad ranging environmental legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, all of which were signed into law by Republican President Nixon. While I agree there should be constitutional limits on legislative power, Judge Alito seems to have agreed with Justice Thomas ...If ‘‘the aggregate or substantial effects tests’’ are overruled as Justice Thomas has advocated, federal environmental laws could be ruled unconstitutional. Indeed on February 21, the Court is scheduled to hear arguments on two cases, Carabell v. United States and United States v. Rapanos. In both cases the lower court upheld protection of wetlands, which are currently protected under the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists argue that these wetlands are critical to the health of our nation’s water supply and wildlife habitat. Industry groups argue that the Army Corps of Engineers has no authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate ‘‘isolated wetlands’’ that have no connection with ‘‘navigable waters.’’ This would be a major setback to the Clean Water Act. The critical issue is whether under the commerce clause, Congress has the authority to regulate non-navigable bodies of water within a single State. Based on the writing of Judge Alito, he would appear to side with the faction what would greatly limit the ability of Congress to protect such ‘‘intrastate’’ issues."