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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


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Senator Statements

 

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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. Grassley Floor Statement on D.C. Circuit and opposing confirmation of Pamela Harris to Fourth Circuit
(Republican - Iowa) 07/28/14
" So now after the other side has succeeded in stacking the DC Circuit, Democratic appointees outnumber Republican appointees by a 7-to-4 majority among active judges.... Professor Harris is being fast-tracked to the Fourth Circuit just in time for another en banc appeal, should one materialize.... Professor Harris is a rock-solid vote for saving ObamaCare's unlawful subsidy regime"

Sen. Durbin on D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Illinois) 07/22/14
Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said he wouldn’t be surprised if the full court ruled in the White House’s favor. “There was a strong conservative Republican majority on the D.C. Circuit until we filled the vacancies,” Durbin said. “Now it’s a balanced circuit, so since one of the Republicans of the three who ruled was on our side I wouldn’t give up on a…ruling coming our way, toward the administration.”

SEN. MURPHY STATEMENT ON RECENT AFFORDABLE CARE ACT COURT DECISIONS
(Democrat - Connecticut) 07/22/14
"Conservative jurists and legislators are going to continue to try to pick apart this law, but the mounting, overwhelming evidence of its success is impossible for even the law's critics to ignore. I’m confident that this flawed decision will be overturned when it goes to the full D.C. Circuit, and that the logic employed by the Fourth Circuit in today's ruling upholding the subsidies will eventually prevail."

sEN. King Calls Circuit Court Decision “Inconsistent with the Underlying Purpose of the Law”
(Independent - Maine) 07/22/14
U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement today in response to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to bar subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act to consumers in states, like Maine, that have not created their own insurance marketplace: “I’m surprised by this decision because it is so inconsistent with the underlying purposes of the law, and I look forward to a review by the full panel,” Senator King said. “In the meantime, there are a number of us in the Senate who have been looking for bipartisan fixes to the ACA that will help cover even more Americans, and as we await a broader review of the decision, I think this an opportunity for Congress to put aside partisan differences to solve problems that will impact millions around the country.”

Sen. Harkin: ACA Designed to Ensure Quality, Affordable Coverage Available to Every American
(Democrat - Iowa) 07/22/14
“We know that Congressional Republicans will try to use the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s outlier ruling as a scare tactic to confuse Americans about the future of the ACA....After dozens of failed attempts to repeal the ACA and no viable option to provide affordable healthcare, the only avenue left to Republicans is to pursue an increasingly cynical strategy to undermine the ACA through the courts."

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. 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. 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. 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.”

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.”

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.”

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."

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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."