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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. Hatch Floor Speech "Highlights Repeated Abuses of Executive Authority by the Obama Administration"
(Republican - Utah) 04/30/14
"After the D.C. Circuit rightfully invalidated several key Administration actions as outside the bounds of federal law, the President sought to pack that court with compliant judges in order to obtain more favorable decisions."

Sen. Markey Statement on Supreme Court Ruling to Uphold EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 04/29/14
After EPA’s authority was struck down by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Senator Markey along with many others called on the Obama administration to appeal to the Supreme Court. “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a huge win for cleaner air, clearer lungs, and healthier lives for families in Massachusetts and nationwide. EPA has put together a common sense, cost-effective rule to reduce harmful pollution that crosses state boundaries. Pollution does not respect state borders or know the difference between lungs in the Midwest or lungs in New England. The Supreme Court recognized that today. Reducing air pollution through this long overdue rule will save money and lives in Massachusetts and across America.”

Sen. Menendez Says SCOTUS Decision on Cross-State Pollution Win for NJ
(Democrat - New Jersey) 04/29/14
Today’s decision overturns a 2012 appellate court ruling that invalidated the rule. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a huge win for our air, our health, our economy and the quality of life of all New Jerseyans,” said Sen. Menendez. “While New Jersey has taken some proactive measures to reduce its own hazardous power plant emissions, our residents continue to suffer at the hands of upwind polluters. By recognizing that dirty emissions don’t stop at the state line, the Supreme Court’s ruling will save tens of thousands of lives every year and reduce healthcare costs in New Jersey and across the nation. And not only will it help us to meet its our own air quality standard goals, it’s an important step in holding all states accountable for the full scope of their own emissions.”

Sen. Carper Applauds Supreme Court Decision Upholding EPA's Good Neighbor Rule
(Democrat - Delaware) 04/29/14
“I am thrilled that the Supreme Court made a very wise decision to uphold the EPA’s lifesaving efforts on clean air and reverse the D.C. Circuit Court’s wrongful vacating of this rule,” Sen. Carper said. “Downwind states, like Delaware, can only do so much to protect against the harmful impact of air pollution without cooperation from their neighbors. These common sense policies will go a long way in protecting our environment and the health of millions of Americans - including thousands of children with asthma and respiratory issues - in many parts of the country where we are forced to deal with the polluted air that drifts over from other states. I always try to live my life by the Golden Rule, to treat others the way I want to be treated. The Good Neighbor Rule essentially makes sure states follow the Golden Rule for clean air - making sure we all do our part to clean up air pollution.”

Sen. Boxer Floor statement on vacant judgeships and justice delayed is justice denied
(Democrat - California) 01/16/14
"We have courts where the judgeships are vacant. Justice delayed is justice denied. We need those judges in their places. The Senator from Iowa, I remember, made a big, eloquent speech about how we wanted to ``pack'' the courts. Anyone who knows anything about history knows pack the courts means wanting to add more judges and put your people in it. It doesn't mean filling vacancies. I think he got off that. But that was something to listen to. We need to take care of the people's business and not play politics depending on who is in the White House."

Sen. Cardin Floor Statement in strong support of Judge Robert Wilkins D.C. Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Maryland) 01/14/14
"I was pleased to introduce Judge Wilkins to the Judiciary Committee in September and the committee favorably reported his nomination in October. He was filibustered in November, and I am pleased we are reconsidering his nomination today.... This court handles unusually complex cases in the area of administrative law, including revealing decisions and rulemaking of many Federal agencies in policy areas, such as environment, labor, and financial regulations. Nationally, only about 15 percent of the appeals are administrative in nature--15 percent. That is the national number. In the DC Circuit, that figure is 43 percent. They have a much larger caseload of complex cases.... Let me quote from former Chief Judge Henry Edwards, who said: '[R]eview of large, multiparty, difficult administrative appeals is the staple of judicial work in the DC Circuit. This alone distinguishes the work of the DC Circuit from the work of other circuits. It also explains why it is impossible to compare the work of the DC Circuit with other circuits by simply referring to raw data on case filings.' I mention that because there have been some here who say ``the workload of the court.'' The workload of the court requires us to fill this vacancy. Chief Justice Roberts noted that ``about two-thirds of the cases before the DC Circuit involved the Federal Government in some civil capacity, while that figure is less than twenty-five percent nationwide.'' He also described the ``D.C. Circuit's unique character, as a court with special responsibility to review legal challenges to the conduct of the national government.'' He should know. Justice Roberts came from that circuit court."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Wilkins To The D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/14/14
“As we begin 2014, I hope we can set aside our differences and do what is best for this country by confirming qualified nominees to fill critical vacancies facing our Federal Judiciary,” Leahy said in a statement, referencing the record high number of judicial vacancies across the country. Leahy called Wilkins “an outstanding nominee,” who with his confirmation today, becomes just the sixth African American in history to serve on the powerful D.C. Circuit. “Despite the progress made in the past several decades, the struggle to diversify our Federal bench continues,” Leahy said. “I am proud to support the nomination of Judge Wilkins today and to support other highly qualified nominees whose diverse personal and professional background help further enrich the judiciary.”

Sen. Lee Floor Statement on Wilkins Nomination
(Republican - Utah) 01/13/14
"We just confirmed Judge Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. I voted against this judge. In doing that, I joined my Republican colleagues for one simple reason. Several years ago, when President George W. Bush was in the White House, he nominated an eminently qualified lawyer named Peter Keisler who had bipartisan support. ...Since that time, if anything, the DC Circuit's caseload per judge has remained about the same or some would argue has gone down a little, depending on which metric you use."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/13/14
"Once Judge Wilkins is confirmed, the DC Circuit, which is often considered to be the second most important court in the Nation, will finally be operating at full strength. The American people deserve no less....Despite the progress made in the past several decades, the struggle to diversify our Federal bench continues. When confirmed, Judge Wilkins will be only the sixth African American to have ever served on the DC Circuit."

Sen. Cardin Applauds Senate Confirmation Of Judge Robert Wilkins To The D.C. Court Of Appeals
(Democrat - Maryland) 01/13/14
“I had the pleasure of introducing Judge Robert L. Wilkins to the Judiciary Committee some months ago. Tonight I am pleased that the Senate has finally voted to allow such a qualified nominee to sit on the Nation’s second highest court,” said Senator Cardin. “As a plaintiff, as a jurist, and someone with a lifelong record of public service, Judge Wilkins has shown himself as eminently qualified to fill a seat on the important D.C Court of Appeals.”

Judge Norton Recommended for U.S. District Court Confirmed by Senate for Promotion to D.C. Circuit Court
(Democrat - District of Columbia) 01/13/14
“The Senate today has done a great service to the country by confirming Judge Wilkins to our nation’s second most powerful court,” said Norton. “I was proud to recommend Robert Wilkins for the district court here in 2010. I was not surprised by his nomination by the president to the D.C. Circuit Court, and could not be more pleased with his well-deserved confirmation today. His strong reputation among his peers in the profession, especially for a young man, is universally high.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of Robert Wilkins
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/09/14
"As we begin 2014, I hope we can set aside our differences and do what is best for this country by confirming qualified nominees to fill critical vacancies facing our Federal Judiciary. We can do this today by voting to end the filibuster of Judge Robert Wilkins, who has been nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. ... Another threat facing our courts which is unaddressed in the Chief’s year-end report are the continuing vacancies experienced by the Federal courts. Over the last year, the number of vacancies has hovered around 90 because obstruction in Congress has led to filibuster after filibuster of qualified nominees. And the unfortunate action taken by Republicans at the end of the first session of this Congress will only mean further delay in filling these vacancies—Republicans, for the first time ever, refused to allow any currently pending judicial nominees to be held over so that they could be ready for immediate action this year. For purely political reasons, Senate Republicans are forcing us to duplicate work this year that we already completed in 2013."

Sen. Reid Floor Remarks on the Schedule
(Democrat - Nevada) 12/16/13
"The Senate must also confirm Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, Alejandro Mayorkas to be Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and John Koskinen to lead the Internal Revenue Service. The nominations of Judge Robert Wilkins’ to be a member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and of Brian Davis of Florida to be a district court judge are also priorities. Mr. Davis’ nomination has been pending for two years."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Pillard To The D.C. Circuit Court
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/12/13
“Despite having filled nearly half of law school classrooms for the last 20 years, women are grossly underrepresented on our Federal courts. We need women on the Federal bench,” Leahy said. “The Senate moved another step forward in that effort by voting to confirm Nina Pillard, one of several highly qualified women nominated by President Obama like Patricia Millett, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. I am proud to support such incredible nominees, and I applaud the Senate for voting to confirm Nina Pillard.”

Sen. Blumenthal Statement On Senate Confirmation Of Nina Pillard To D.C. Circuit Court
(Democrat - Connecticut) 12/12/13
“This vote, which I was proud to passionately advocate, marks a great day for justice in America. Nina Pillard exemplifies the intellect and integrity the courts need, and the talent and temperament characteristic of our best judges. Most important, she is committed unshakably to the rule of law. She has been a superlative legal advocate and scholar, who will now assure that law is applied fairly and impartially."

Sen. Merkley Floor Statement for Pillard D.C. Circuit Nomination
(Democrat - Oregon) 12/11/13
"Professor Pillard's unbiased approach to the law has won the respect of her colleagues in law and in government, including former Department of Justice officials in Republican administrations who have endorsed her nomination to the DC Circuit.... we have the ongoing campaign of subjecting virtually every nomination to a supermajority....That is just a pure deliberate campaign of paralysis and obstruction, undermining the contribution of this body, its responsibility as a legislative body. It is not only judicial nominees, it is executive nominees as well. ... Then we had a whole new strategy on the judiciary. This strategy had never been experienced in U.S. history. It was: No matter whom President Obama nominates for the DC Circuit Court, we are going to block that nominee because we only want to leave in place the nominees that were put in place by President Bush. That is in direct contravention of the vision of the Constitution where each President as elected has the power to nominate. This Chamber is a check. It gets to vote up or down and decide whether they should be in office. But this was a deliberate strategy to pack the Court, to say that when a President of my party is in power, there will be up-or-down votes, as was insisted in 2005 when the tables were turned, but when the President is of the other party, we are going to have a perpetual campaign and we are going to block up-or-down votes."

Sen. Coons Floor Statement on D.C. Circuit Nominees; Obstruction and need to fill all vacancies
(Democrat - Delaware) 12/11/13
"I wish to add to the comments of the majority leader that the nominees to serve on the DC Circuit, the nominees to many district court seats, whose confirmations I have either presided over or attended, were not objected to on substantive grounds. I have trouble with the idea that the three empty seats on the DC Circuit do not need to be filled. I have listened at great length to the arguments about caseload and about workload. As the chair of the courts subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, I presided over the presentation of the Judicial Conference's report on where we need additional judgeships and where we don't. I will note briefly and in passing that Judge Tymkovich, who presented this report, did not suggest there was some need to reduce the DC Circuit by eliminating these currently vacant spots.... In my view, we have three excellent, qualified candidates. I regret that we have spent so much time burning the clock and that we have had to make changes that ultimately will make it possible for qualified nominees to be confirmed."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Moves Closer To Filling Vacancies On D.C. Circuit; Pillard Poised To Be Confirmed To 10th Seat
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/10/13
“The D.C. Circuit is often considered to be the second most important court in the Nation and should be operating at full strength,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. “Today we will take a step toward making this Court operate at full strength for the American people.”

Sen. Kaine Statement On Confirmation Of Patricia Millett To D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Virginia) 12/10/13
“With Pattie Millett's confirmation to the D.C. Circuit, the court gains a supremely qualified jurist with a strong record of bipartisan public service under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Pattie’s career has prepared her well for this post and I was honored to introduce her at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On top of her impressive career and educational experience, Pattie is a proud military spouse who will represent the unique perspective of military families.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Millett To The D.C. Circuit Court
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/10/13
"John Roberts was confirmed unanimously to the D.C. Circuit on the day the Judiciary Committee completed consideration of his nomination and reported it to the Senate—at a time when the caseload of the D.C. Circuit by any measure was lower than it is today. If only Senate Republicans had been willing to apply the same standard for Ms. Millett. Instead, they decided to filibuster her nomination even though they had promised to only filibuster nominations under “extraordinary circumstances.” If those Senators had been true to their word, I do not believe we would have reached the tipping point on the use of the filibuster. By refusing to allow a vote for any existing vacancy on the D.C. Circuit, Republicans took their determined obstruction to an unprecedented level.... Now that the Senate has changed its precedents to overcome the escalating obstruction of some, I hope reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties."

Sen. Tom Udall: Filibuster Rule Change Reducing Senate Gridlock: Confirmation of Millett by vote of 56-38 shows rules change is allowing Senate to return to standard of ‘advise and consent' as required by the Constitution
(Democrat - New Mexico) 12/10/13
"Patricia Millett deserved an up-or-down vote in October, but she instead became another example of a highly qualified nominee blocked purely for partisan gain. Patricia Millett's confirmation today isn't a radical move. What's radical is that the Senate is finally doing what our founders intended - exercising its advise and consent responsibilities. A majority of the body approved of Millett's confirmation, so she now heads to the federal bench."

Sen. Merkley: Advice and Consent Role Restored in Senate, Praises Millett Confirmation
(Democrat - Oregon) 12/10/13
“Today’s vote shows that the constitutional concept of ‘advice and consent’ has been restored in the United States Senate. There is no doubt that Patricia Millett is extremely qualified and will be a valuable addition to the D.C. Circuit Court, which will rule on issues that directly and deeply impact middle class families, like health care, workplace safety, and clean air and water rules. I am pleased that the Senate has confirmed this qualified nominee. We must now confirm the remaining nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court and the Executive Branch without delay.”

Sen. Reid Floor Statement on Patricia Millett D.C. Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Nevada) 12/10/13
"I am pleased that today Ms. Millett will finally get the fair, up-or-down vote she deserves. Ms. Millett is exceedingly qualified for this position. She graduated at the top of her class from the University of Illinois at Urbana and attended Harvard Law School. Ms. Millett has argued more than 32 cases before the Supreme Court, including one while her husband was deployed overseas with the U.S. Navy. She also served as Assistant Solicitor General under both President Bill Clinton and President George Bush. She enjoys bipartisan support from a variety of law enforcement officials, legal professionals, and military organizations. And it is my honor to help confirm a woman whom colleagues have called fair-minded, principled, and exceptionally gifted."

Sen. Angus S. King Jr. column: Filibuster reform
(Independent - Maine) 12/06/13
"This month, three judicial nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, including Patricia Millett of Dexter, were blocked not on the basis of their qualifications, but rather because they were nominated by President Barack Obama. Similarly, Republicans have used procedural hurdles to block executive nominees resulting in a leadership vacuum at many of our federal agencies. ... My vote in favor of the rule change, of finally invoking the nuclear option, reflects my belief that judicial and executive nominees deserve an up-or-down vote by the Senate, regardless of which party is in the majority, or which party controls the White House, and that we needed a structural adjustment to the rules so that the Senate could once again function."

Sen. Cruz: Senate Triggered Nuclear Option To Pack D.C. Cirucit & Distract From Obamacare
(Republican - Texas) 12/05/13
"The nuclear option was a blatant abuse of power. It was designed really to do two things. Number one, to change the topic from Obamacare," Cruz said Thursday during a speech at an American Legislative Exchange Council event. The second thing, Cruz continued, had to do with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats have pushed back on the court-packing argument, saying that Republicans had no problem confirming D.C. Circuit Court nominations under a Republican president. "The nuclear option was directed exactly at that because it was directed at three judges on the D.C. Circuit [Court], the circuit that hears most of the challenges to the abuse of executive authority on Obamacare and everything else," Cruz said. "Right now the D.C. circuit is evenly split with Republican nominees and Democratic nominees and what Harry Reid is trying to do is pack it with additional judges they believe will rubber stamp the president's agenda."

Sen. Ayotte Statement Regarding "Nuclear Option"
(Republican - New Hampshire) 11/21/13
""The Democrats' vote to invoke the ‘nuclear option' and fundamentally change the rules of the Senate is a raw power grab which is deeply disappointing.... The Senate has a constitutional advice and consent role when it comes to the president's nominees, and Senate rules have long protected the rights of the minority party. At a time when Americans want members of both parties to be working together, this partisan power play will only further inflame the partisan divide in Washington. ... I welcomed the opportunity to meet personally with Patricia Millett, and was impressed by her legal credentials, and I certainly appreciate her experiences as a military spouse. But given the DC Circuit's declining caseload, the addition of a new judge to this bench isn't justified."