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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


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Senator Statements

 

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Sen. Leahy Statement at Nov. 17, 2010 Hearing On Judicial And Executive Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/17/10
"the Federal judiciary is currently more than 180 judges short of those needed. Just yesterday we received a letter from Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, an appointee of President Reagan, and the other members of the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit, who wrote "to emphasize [the] desperate need for judges." The Ninth Circuit is the Nation's largest Federal circuit. Judge Kozinski and the Judicial Council, including the chief judges of the district courts in that circuit, wrote that "[c]ourts cannot do their work if authorized judicial positions remain vacant" and urge "that the Senate act on judicial nominees without delay." This letter echoes other recent warnings we have received about the cost of skyrocketing vacancies from individuals and organizations like the Federal Judges Association, the American Bar Association, the Chief Judge of the D.C. District Court, Supreme Court Justices, and even the President of the United States. President Obama wrote to the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate that the continuing inaction on judicial nominations "is undermining the ability of our courts to deliver justice to those in need." Justice Kennedy addressing the Ninth Circuit Conference about the cost of judicial vacancies in California and around the country said that "if judicial excellence is cast upon a sea of congressional indifference, the rule of law is imperiled.""

Democrats Plan Votes on Controversial Nominees, Senator Says
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 11/17/10
"Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said today that Democrats could move soon to end debate on the nominees [Liu, Chen, Butler & Jack McConnell]. He said that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was lining up support this morning for what’s known as a cloture petition — the necessary paperwork before holding a vote to end debate. “He’s lining up the signatures,” Whitehouse said"

Column quoting Sen. Whitehouse
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 11/11/10
Whitehouse, a Judiciary Committee member, said 41 circuit and district judges have been confirmed since Mr. Obama took office, compared with 78 judges at this point in President George W. Bush’s tenure. While it’s a given that Supreme Court nominations are part of a “political war,” that battle has been creeping down to Circuit Courts, and we’re at a “tipping point” where it might extend to District Court nominees, he said. McConnell “has the support of both of his senators from the home state, he passed out of the committee with a bipartisan vote and cleared all of his background checks,” Whitehouse said. “If somebody in that position is going to be filibustered, then you have let a very big tiger out of a cage, and trying to get that tiger back in the cage is going to be very, very hard.”

Diversity matters on the Supreme Court (Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin)
(Democrat - Maryland) 10/07/10
"If you work for a living, if you're a woman, if you vote, if you care about the air we breathe or the water you drink, if you're a consumer, you need to be concerned about the Supreme Court. The White House and the Senate should also be working to increase the diversity of the judges on the lower federal courts, which hear the vast majority of cases. ...With the nomination of Judge Albert Diaz of North Carolina, the Senate has another opportunity to increase diversity on the Fourth Circuit. If confirmed, Judge Diaz would be the first Latino judge to ever sit on the Fourth Circuit in its history. President Obama is trying to reshape the federal judiciary to reflect American society. He has nominated women and minorities at an unprecedented rate. Of Obama’s 70 Appellate and District Court nominees, 44% are female and 43% are minorities. By contrast, of the 322 confirmed judges during the Bush administration, only 22% were women and less than 18% were minorities. President Obama has made great strides in trying to create a judiciary that is representative of the people. If only the Senate could move forward and actually confirm more of these fine jurists."

Leahy: Senate Recesses Without Confirming Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/30/10
“Republicans have allowed the Senate to consider and confirm only 41 of President Obama’s circuit and district court nominations over the last two years. In stark contrast, by this date in President Bush’s second year in office, the Senate with a Democratic majority had confirmed 78 of his Federal circuit and district court nominations. That number reached 100 by the end of 2002, all considered and confirmed during the 17 months I chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Judiciary Committee Reports 7 Judicial Nominees; 23 Nominees Now Await Senate Votes
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/23/10
"Nominations reported to the full Senate as long ago as January have been stalled on the calendar. Seventeen of the nominations were reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee. ... District court nominations have waited on average more than three times longer for votes on the Senate floor after being reported by the Judiciary Committee than did President Bush’s district court nominees. Circuit court nominees have waited five times longer for a Senate vote after being favorably reported by the Committee."

Sen. Leahy Statement at Sept. 15 Hearing on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/15/10
"Several recent newspaper articles have discussed the judicial vacancy crisis that has been created by the Republican strategy of slow-walking the Senate's consideration of noncontroversial nominations. These include many nominees who, when they finally get a vote after waiting months and months and months, get a unanimous vote. These include nominees who have the strong support of Republican home state Senators, yet still have required cloture votes to proceed. These include district court nominations, which are traditionally considered without delays, and they have never been targeted for obstruction by Democrats or Republicans when they have been supported by their home State Senators."

Sen. Mark Udall July 29th Series of Requests for Votes on 20 Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Colorado) 07/29/10
"the number that stands out to me, as I mentioned earlier, is we have 100 judicial vacancies, which the Senator from Alabama acknowledged. Forty-two of those are considered judicial emergencies by the bodies that oversee and monitor the judiciary. The Senate has confirmed 24 nominees so far this year and 36 total since President Obama was elected. Those are historic lows. That is the fewest number of judges confirmed in 50 years."

Sen. Kohl July 29th Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 07/29/10
"So, it is clear that this upstanding and well-qualified nominee should be promptly considered by the Senate. Justice Butler has been pending for far too long and a vote on his confirmation is overdue. Someone like this deserves an up or down vote."

Sen. Feingold July 29th Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 07/29/10
"We have all heard the numbers only 9 circuit and 27 district judges confirmed so far in this Congress, 7 circuit and 14 district judges now awaiting floor action, with 15 of those nominees having been reported by the Judiciary Committee before the end of May. This is an inexcusable blockade of justice in America for wholly political reasons, and it needs to stop. I am pleased also to join the senior Senator from my State, Mr. KOHL, in specifically seeking consent to debate and vote on Justice Louis Butler’s nomination to be a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin. Justice Butler, who was the first African American to serve on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, was first reported by the Judiciary Committee on December 3, 2009. He has essentially been waiting for the full Senate to take up his nomination for more than 7 months."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse July 29th Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 07/29/10
"These two were reported out of the Judiciary Committee on January 28, 2010, 6 months ago yesterday. Albert Diaz was voted out 19 to 0. James Wynn was voted out 18 to 1. That means a combined score of 37 to 1 for these two candidates whom the two Senators from North Carolina had agreed on, a Republican Senator and a Democratic Senator. ... Butler is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. Ed Chen and Benita Pearson are long-serving and well-respected Federal magistrate judges in San Francisco and Akron, OH. Bill Martinez is a wellknown and well-respected attorney in Colorado. Each nominee had the full support of both of their home State Senators. Each nominee would bring proper expertise, judicial temperament, and great diversity to the bench. Each nominee would be confirmed, if we could simply get them voted on by the Senate. The way these nominees have been treated stands in stark contrast to the way district court nominees were treated in the Bush administration.... otwithstanding the support of Senator REED and myself, the two Senators from Rhode Island, notwithstanding that this is a district court nomination, notwithstanding the powerful support across Rhode Island from those who know Jack McConnell best, special interests from outside the State have interfered in his nomination."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/12/10
"We are going to proceed today on only 1 of the 22 judicial nominations that have been stalled on the Senate floor by Republican obstruction. This is a nominee we considered and voted out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously 3 months ago without objection. ... We have the Senate Republican leadership refusing to enter into time agreements on pending judicial nominations that have the support from both Democrats and Republicans, including nominations with bipartisan support from North Carolina and Tennessee and South Carolina and California and New York and Delaware and Virginia and Utah, Maryland, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. ... the Senate is dramatically behind the pace I set for President Bush’s judicial nominees in 2001 and 2002."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/28/10
"today the Senate is proceeding on only one of the 23 judicial nominees stalled by Republican obstruction from action by the Senate. The nominee the Senate will confirm tonight has been stalled for more than 10 weeks, even though his nomination was reported without a single objection from the Judiciary Committee on April 15. There are eight other judicial nominees who have been stalled for at least as long, or longer, and nominees who were favorably reported last year, last November, still being obstructed. This confirmation was needlessly delayed for no good purpose."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Obstruction of Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/20/10
"I further call upon Republicans to agree to time agreements on each of the other seven judicial nominees ready for final Senate action. Only one Republican Senator in the Judiciary Committee voted against Judge Wynn of North Carolina; only three voted against Judge Vanaskie of Pennsylvania; only four voted against Ms. Stranch of Tennessee, who is supported by the senior Senator from Tennessee, a Republican and a member of the Senate Republican leadership. Senate Republicans should identify the time they require to debate the nominations of Justice Butler of Wisconsin, Judge Chen of California, Judge Pearson of Ohio, and Judge Martinez of Colorado, who are all well-qualified nominees for district court vacancies, which are typically considered and confirmed without lengthy debate."

Sen. Leahy March 16, 2010 Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/16/10
"The 18 judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration are: Jane Stranch of Tennessee, nominated to the Sixth Circuit; Judge Thomas Vanaskie of Pennsylvania, nominated to the Third Circuit; Judge Denny Chin of New York, nominated to the Second Circuit; Justice Rogeriee Thompson of Rhode Island, nominated to the First Circuit; Judge James Wynn of North Carolina, nominated to the Fourth Circuit; Judge Albert Diaz of North Carolina, nominated to the Fourth Circuit; Judge Edward Chen, nominated to the Northern District of California; Justice Louis Butler, nominated to the Western District of Wisconsin; Nancy Freudenthal, nominated to the District of Wyoming; Denzil Marshall, nominated to the Eastern District of Arkansas; Benita Pearson, nominated to the Northern District of Ohio; Timothy Black, nominated to the Southern District of Ohio; Gloria M. Navarro, nominated to the District of Nevada; Audrey G. Fleissig, nominated to the Eastern District of Missouri; Lucy H. Koh, nominated to the Northern District of California; Jon E. DeGuilio, nominated to the Northern District of Indiana; Tanya Walton Pratt, nominated to the Southern District of Indiana; and Jane Magnus-Stinson, nominated to the Southern District of Indiana. Twelve of the 18 were reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition; one had a single negative vote. The stalling and obstruction should end and these nominations should be considered by the Senate and voted upon without further delay. "

Sen. Leahy Detailed Floor Statement on Senate Delays of President Obama Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/13/10
"there are 18 judicial nominees that have been reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee— most of them unanimously— who await Senate consideration. That is more nominees than the total of President Obama’s circuit and district court nominees—17—that have been confirmed since he took office. This sorry state of affairs is the result of a Republican strategy to stall, obstruct, and delay that has existed throughout President Obama’s time in office....By this date during President Bush’s first term, the Senate had confirmed 41 Federal circuit and district court nominations.... While Republican Senators stall, judicial vacancies continue to skyrocket. Vacancies have already grown to more than 100, undoing years of our hard work repairing the damage done by Republican pocket filibusters of President Clinton’s judicial nominees. When I chaired the Judiciary Committee during President Bush’s last year in office, we reduced judicial vacancies to as low as 34, even though it was a presidential election year.... Senate Republicans delay and obstruct even nominees chosen after consultation with Republican home State Senators.... In 8 years, the Judiciary Committee reported only a single Bush district court nomination by a partyline vote.... During President Obama’s short time in office, not one, not two, but three district court nominees have been reported on a party-line vote as Senate Republicans look for any reason to oppose every nomination.... There have already been 17 filibusters of President Obama’s nominees. That is the same number of Federal circuit and district nominees the Senate has confirmed during the entirety of the Obama administration. And that comparison does not include the many other nominees who were delayed or who are being denied up-ordown votes by Senate Republicans refusing to agree to time agreements to consider even noncontroversial nominees."

Sen. Leahy Statement at Nominations Hearing
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/10/10
"There have already been 17 filibusters of President Obama's nominees. That is the same number of Federal circuit and district nominees the Senate has confirmed during the entirety of the Obama administration. And that comparison does not include the many other nominees who were delayed or who are being denied up or down votes by Senate Republicans refusing to agree to time agreements to consider even noncontroversial nominees."

Sen. Leahy Mardch 4, 2010 Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/04/10
"Earlier this week we had to overcome Republican objection and a filibuster to obtain a vote on the nomination of Judge Barbara Keenan. She, too, was confirmed unanimously, 99 to zero. Yet Republicans would not agree to schedule a vote on her nomination. She was forced to wait four months after being reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate was required to end the Republican filibuster. ... I, again, urge Senate Republicans to reconsider their strategy and allow prompt consideration of all 18 judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration."

Sen. Leahy March 2, 2010 Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/02/10
"I further call upon Republicans to agree to time agreements on each of the other six judicial nominees ready for final Senate action. Only one Republican Senator in the Judiciary Committee voted against Judge Wynn of North Carolina; only three voted against Judge Vanaskie of Pennsylvania; only four voted against Ms. Stranch of Tennessee, who is supported by the senior Senator from Tennessee, a Republican and a member of the Senate Republican leadership. Senate Republicans should identify the time they require to debate the nominations of Justice Butler of Wisconsin, Judge Chen of California and Judge Pearson of Ohio, who are all well-qualified nominees for district court vacancies, which are typically considered and confirmed without lengthy debate."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Keenan To Fourth Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/02/10
"I, again, urge Senate Republicans to reconsider their strategy and allow prompt consideration of all 14 judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration"

Sen. Leahy Statement at Feb. 11, 2010 Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/11/10
"I, again, urge Senate Republicans to reconsider their strategy and allow prompt consideration of the other judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration: Judge Barbara Keenan of Virginia, nominated to the Fourth Circuit; Jane Stranch of Tennessee, nominated to the Sixth Circuit; ... Judge James Wynn of North Carolina, nominated to the Fourth Circuit; Judge Albert Diaz of North Carolina, nominated to the Fourth Circuit; Judge Edward Chen, nominated to the Northern District of California; and Justice Louis Butler, nominated to the Western District of Wisconsin. I note, again, that the judicial nominees from states with Republican Senators are supported by their home state Republican Senators. Senators Alexander and Corker have supported Judge Stranch's nomination from Tennessee to the Sixth Circuit and Senator Burr came to their hearing and testified in favor of Judge Wynn and Judge Diaz of North Carolina and President Obama's nominating them to the Fourth Circuit."

Sen. Leahy at Nominations Hearing
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/10/10
"This President has from the outset worked with Senators from both parties to select outstanding, qualified judicial nominees. Five of these nominees come from states with a Democratic Senator and a Republican Senator. Each nominee has the support of both home state Senators. ... I, again, urge Senate Republicans to reconsider their strategy and allow prompt consideration of the other judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration"

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Third Circuit Nominee
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/09/10
"The Senate has confirmed just 15 circuit and district court nominations this Congress, less than half the number that were confirmed by this time during President Bush’s first term in office. The Senate last year confirmed just 12 circuit and district court nominations, the fewest judicial nominations in more than 50 years. There are more than 100 vacancies on federal benches across the country, and more than 20 future vacancies have been announced."

Sen. Leahy Feb. 9, 2010 Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/09/10
"I, again, urge Senate Republicans to reconsider their strategy and allow prompt consideration of the other judicial nominees awaiting Senate consideration:"

Chairman Leahy Statement On Judicial and Executive Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/23/09
"Republican obstruction is setting a new low for the Senate in our consideration of judicial nominations. ... Unlike his predecessor, President Obama has reached out and across the aisle to work with Republican Senators in making his judicial nominations.... his nomination to the Sixth Circuit from Tennessee, supported by Senator ALEXANDER. ... Judge Wynn and Judge Diaz have been nominated to fill two longstanding vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Both are from North Carolina. Senator BURR and Senator HAGAN worked with each other and with the White House on these nominations. I thank them both for their testimony before the committee last week in strong support of these nominees."

Sen. Leahy Dec. 15, 2009 Floor Statement Renewing Call To Confirm Pending Nominations Before Recess
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/15/09
"During President Bush’s last year in office, we had reduced judicial vacancies to as low as 34, even though it was a presidential election year. As matters stand today, judicial vacancies have spiked, and we will start 2010 with the highest number of vacancies on Article III courts since 1994, when the vacancies created by the last comprehensive judgeship bill were still being filled. While it has been nearly 20 years since we enacted a federal judgeship bill, judicial vacancies are nearing record levels, with 97 current vacancies and another 23 already announced. If we had proceeded on the judgeship bill recommended by the U.S. Courts to address the growing burden on our Federal judiciary and provide access to justice for all Americans, vacancies would stand at 160, by far the highest on record."

Sen. Leahy: Dec. 9, 2009 Floor Statement on Pending Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/09/09
"There remain nine judicial nominations that have been given hearings and favorable consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee but that remain stalled before the Senate. ... the Republican minority has consented to allow votes on only nine of President Obama’s nominations to fill district and circuit court vacancies. We confirmed a tenth, Judge David Hamilton, after invoking cloture to overcome a Republican leadership-led filibuster. In comparison, by this date in 2001, we had confirmed 21 of President Bush’s nominations, including six to fill circuit court vacancies."