Sen. Harry Reid: Farewell, Fair Senate
(Democrat - Nevada)
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.
Sen. Warren Op-Ed: Republicans fiddle while Washington burns
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
"In 2013, as Obama began his second term, Republican leaders flatly rejected his authority to confirm any judges to fill any of three open seats on the second-highest court in the country, and Democrats had to change the filibuster rules in order to move those nominees forward. Once Republicans took over the Senate in 2015, judicial confirmations nearly ground to a halt.... Republicans readily admit that their refusal to act is not related to Garland’s qualifications. ... Instead, they block votes wholesale, in order to keep critical jobs vacant, and to undermine the government itself. In so doing, they insult both the president and the Constitution."
Sen. Warren Floor statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
"In 2013, only 1 year into President Obama's second term, Republican leaders flatly rejected his authority to confirm any judges to fill any of the three open seats on the second highest court in the country, and Democrats had to change the filibuster rules in order to move those nominees forward. Once Republicans took over the Senate in 2015, judicial confirmations nearly ground to a halt.... No matter how much it damages the Nation, no matter how much it undermines the courts, no matter whether it cripples the government or lays waste to our Constitution, Senate Republicans do pretty much everything they can to avoid acknowledging the legitimacy of our democratically elected President.... I say to you: Do your job. Vote for a Supreme Court nominee. Do your job. Vote on district court judges and circuit court judges. Do your job."
Sen. Grassley Floor statement: WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES RULE AND FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Republican - Iowa)
"The President packed the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviews these regulations, so they are going to have a friendly judge who says that whatever these bureaucrats do that may even be illegal or unconstitutional, they can get away with it.... The American people can decide whether they want another Justice who just decides cases based on what they feel in their ``heart,'' and who buys into this notion of a ``living Constitution,'' or whether they want a man or woman who believes the text means what it says"
Sen. Durbing Floor statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Democrat - Illinois)
"If you decide the Senate Judiciary Committee will not even entertain a nomination to fill the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court , it will be the first time in the history of the U.S. Senate--the first. If the Senate Republican leadership makes the decision that even if a nominee is sent they will never allow a vote, it will be the first time in the history of the United States .... the Republican majority continues to obstruct the appointment of judges and people to serve in the executive branch of government under this President. It has been unprecedented. They decided not just on this nominee but long ago that they would not give this President the same treatment, the same respect that has been given other Presidents. ... Last year, Senate Republicans matched the record for confirming the fewest number of judicial nominees in more than half a century, with 11 for the entire year. Overall, in the current Congress Republicans have only allowed 16 judges to be confirmed, compared to 68 judges that were confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate in the last two years of George W. Bush's administration. There are 17 non-controversial judicial nominees pending on the Senate executive calendar, all of whom were reported out of committee by unanimous voice vote. Currently there are 81 judicial vacancies, including 31 judicial emergencies."
Sen. Cardin Floor Statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Democrat - Maryland)
"Do your job. It is our responsibility to take up the nominations the President will submit to us. And I think the American people will ultimately demand that the Senate do its job and not threaten to stop working simply to coddle and pander to the most extreme fringe elements of its base .... I find it disgraceful that my Republican colleagues would try to obstruct the nomination before the nominee has even been named. Our job as Senators is to examine the qualifications of the nominee .... History has shown that when the roles were reversed and the Democrats held the majority in the Senate, Supreme Court and judicial nominees for Republican Presidents were given hearings and up-and-down votes regardless of when the vacancy occurred.... Do your job. Our job is to consider a nomination that is submitted by the President.
What the Republicans are effectively trying to do is to temporarily shrink the Supreme Court from nine to eight Justices and shorten the term of the President from 4 years to 3 years. That is not in the Constitution. This is disgraceful and indefensible. Frankly, it reminds me of the arguments Republicans used in 2013 when they accused President Obama of trying to pack the court when they announced they would not support further nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. No, President Obama was not trying to pack the court by changing the number of seats on the court . He was merely nominating individuals to existing vacancies on the court that were authorized by Congress by an enacted statute."
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Pending Nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
(Democrat - Vermont)
"Last week, the junior senator from Arkansas objected to a request to vote on any of the five nominations to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that have been awaiting confirmation for more than ten months. ... during the Bush administration, the Senate confirmed nine judges to the CFC – with the support of every Senate Republican. Only three CFC judges nominated by President Obama have received confirmation votes. This is the same double standard that Senate Republicans tried to apply to President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees .... Not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee raised a concern about the court’s caseload either during the Committee hearings on these nominations last year or during the Committee debate last year or this year. In blocking these five nominees, the junior senator from Arkansas ignores the Senate Judiciary Committee’s unanimous votes on these nominations in 2014 and again this year. He also disregards the Chief Judge who speaks on behalf of the entire court and the five past presidents of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association who have urged the Senate to fill these vacancies.
In 2003, the now-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee engaged in a debate on the caseload of this court. He said then: “I feel it is unfair to these Court of Federal Claims nominees to deny them a seat by bringing up this point at this late date.” I hope that the junior senator from Arkansas will heed these words and remove his objection to an up or down vote on these nominees.... More than half a year into this new Congress, the Republican leadership has scheduled votes to confirm only five judicial nominees. This is in stark contrast to the 25 district and circuit court judges confirmed by July 23, 2007, when the shoe was on the other foot and Democrats had regained the Senate majority in the seventh year of the Bush administration."
SEN. MERKLEY: ONE YEAR AFTER SENATE RULE CHANGE, MERKLEY CELEBRATES CONFIRMATION OF NEARLY 300 NOMINEES
(Democrat - Oregon)
“A year ago, our nation and our democracy were threatened by partisan obstruction that was packing our courts and preventing our agencies from doing their jobs. ... Moreover, providing a fair Senate vote on President Obama’s nominees to fill three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court – the second most important court in the country – was crucial to restoring the Court’s integrity. The Senate has also more than doubled the pace of votes on judicial nominations. Enabling these nominees to receive fair up-or-down votes will have profound effects on issues that affect Americans every day, from clean air to women’s health to keeping Wall Street in check. With nearly 300 executive and judicial nominees confirmed this past year, we’ve made a real difference and are breaking through the gridlock to help restore a government that works for working Americans.”
Sen. Leahy statement On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont)
"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)
"[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. Harkin: ACA Designed to Ensure Quality, Affordable Coverage Available to Every American
(Democrat - Iowa)
“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 Statement Regarding the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling on Obamacare Federal Subsidies
(Republican - Utah)
“Today’s decision rightly holds the Obama administration accountable to the law....The court considered the Administration’s justifications and came to an unmistakable conclusion: President Obama overreached. It is greatly disturbing that this Administration continues to put politics ahead of the rule of law time and time again. Today’s decision was right to reject such lawlessness, and I trust that the full D.C. Circuit and eventually the Supreme Court will likewise uphold the legitimate lawmaking authority of Congress.”
Sen. King Calls Circuit Court Decision “Inconsistent with the Underlying Purpose of the Law”
(Independent - Maine)
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. Durbin on D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Illinois)
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)
"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. Inhofe Statement Halbig v. Burwell Decision
(Republican - Oklahoma)
“Today’s decision in the D.C. Circuit Court is only one of many rulings demonstrating the problems that plague Obamacare,” said Inhofe. ... Courts are beginning to agree that Obamacare is riddled with problems and that the current Administration is deliberately ignoring it’s own flawed law."
Sen. Carper Applauds Supreme Court Decision Upholding EPA's Good Neighbor Rule
(Democrat - Delaware)
“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. Markey Statement on Supreme Court Ruling to Uphold EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
(Democrat - Massachusetts)
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)
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)
"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. Leahy: Senate Confirms Wilkins To The D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont)
“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. Cardin Floor Statement in strong support of Judge Robert Wilkins D.C. Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Maryland)
"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 Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont)
"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."