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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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Sen. Durbin: Gorsuch Lowered The Bar For Rights Of Students With Disabilities: Chief Justice John Roberts Releases Ruling Rebuking Judge Gorsuch During His Hearing
(Democrat - Illinois) 03/22/17
During the hearing, the Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Roberts, unanimously ruled that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ standard for what educational benefit a school is required to provide students with disabilities is inconsistent with the law. ... Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion specifically notes that “[w]hen all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.” According to the National Education Association’s analysis of 10th Circuit jurisprudence in IDEA cases, Judge Gorsuch established the “merely more than de minimis” standard in a 2008 opinion. “Why in your early decision did you want to lower the bar so low to ‘merely more than de minimus’ as a standard for public education to meet this federal requirement under the law?” asked Durbin. “The difference in this case is about a word. We know that words are important, and they can make a critical difference in a person’s life…The word that you inserted into the Circuit standard, when it came to these cases, was ‘merely.’ I would say most people reading that would say you have pushed the de minimus statute even further down the standard pole.”

Senator Coons: Judge Gorsuch is “what I’d call a ‘smiling Scalia’”
(Democrat - Delaware) 03/22/17
"I think it’s important to look past the personality and to really understand his framework and his approach to decision-making, because, if confirmed, he will likely be a Justice for 25-30 years."

Sen. Bennet introduces Neil Gorsuch at Supreme Court nomination hearing
(Democrat - Colorado) 03/21/17
"The Senate’s failure to do its duty with respect to Judge Garland was an embarrassment to this body that will be recorded in history and in the lives of millions of Americans .... I consider Judge Gorsuch as a candidate to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court. And out of respect for both Judge Garland and Judge Gorsuch’s service, integrity and commitment to the rule of law, I suggest we fulfill our responsibility to this nominee and to the country by considering his nomination in the manner his predecessor deserved, but was denied.... there’s a second cloud that hangs over this confirmation hearing. It is President Trump’s reckless attacks on the judiciary.... I believe Judge Gorsuch is unquestionably committed the rule of law. Mr. Chairman, it is customary for senators to introduce nominees from their home state, and I’m not here today to take a position or persuade any of our colleagues how to vote.... I am keeping an open mind about this nomination and expect this week’s hearings will shed light on Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach and views of the law."

Sen. Hirono Grills Gorsuch Over His Refusal to Answer Direct Questions: Presses Supreme Court Nominee on Workers’ Rights, Trump Administration Actions, Citizens United & Hobby Lobby Decisions
(Democrat - Hawaii) 03/21/17
“We’ve sat here for close to 10 hours now and you have not told us your understanding of cases already decided by the Supreme Court except to say they are law and precedent. You have not told us your view of cases currently before the court. And you will not tell us your view on issues that might someday be presented to the Court,” Senator Hirono said. “In fact, you have provided us less in the way of answers about how you would approach cases than previous nominees to the Supreme Court. So how should we divine what you would bring to the Supreme Court in terms of your judicial philosophy? By looking at your judicial record? By looking at your writings? I see a pattern that is very much on par with the Roberts Court’s steady march towards protecting corporate interests over individual rights.”

SEN. WHITEHOUSE PRESSES GORSUCH ON DARK MONEY: Asks Gorsuch to call on his dark-money supporters to reveal themselves
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 03/21/17
Whitehouse pushed back against Gorsuch for his refusal to provide substantive answers to any questions from the Committee. “That just doesn’t do, Judge Gorsuch,” Whitehouse replied. “There are going to be questions that you will be asked to decide on the United States Supreme Court that are going to be dependent on the values you bring to this. I don’t think you can avoid talking about those values here.”

SEN. WHITEHOUSE REMARKS AT GORSUCH CONFIRMATION HEARING
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 03/20/17
"The question before us is what happens when Republicans gain a five-seat majority on the Supreme Court? I can’t help but notice the long array of 5-4 decisions, with all the Republican appointees lining up to change the law to the benefit of distinct interests: Republicans at the polls, and big business everywhere.... Find me a Founding Father who planned a big role for business corporations in American elections; or one who would have countenanced the steady strangulation of the civil jury, without so much as a mention of the Seventh Amendment."

Sen. Franken’s Statement on Start of Judiciary Committee Hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Minnesota) 03/20/17
"Over the next few days, Judge Neil Gorsuch will explain his record and his judicial philosophy before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I look forward to learning about the approach he would take as a Supreme Court justice to really important issues, including women's health and workers' rights. But I will say that I'm skeptical of Judge Gorsuch. I fear that if he's confirmed, he would guarantee that the highest court in the land continues to favor powerful interests over the rights of average Americans. This pivotal moment in our nation's history calls for a nominee who has earned a reputation for working to build consensus-someone like Merrick Garland, who, although rightfully nominated by President Obama, was treated disgracefully by Senate Republicans. Judge Gorsuch's record suggests that he's no Merrick Garland. If confirmed, I'm concerned that he will put forth an ideology that I believe has already infected the bench-an ideology that backs big business over individual Americans and refuses to see our country as the dynamic and diverse nation that my constituents in Minnesota wake up in every morning."

Rep. Norton Asks the President for Courtesy of Consultation on Federal Law Enforcement Officials in D.C.
(Democrat - District of Columbia) 03/20/17
The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released Norton’s letter to President Donald Trump requesting that he extend her the courtesy of consulting on the appointment of the U.S. Attorney, federal district court judges and other Senate-confirmed federal law enforcement officials in the District of Columbia—the same courtesy extended to her by President George W. Bush.... In her letter, Norton wrote, “Since the District has no senators, presidents of both parties have provided me a role in the nomination of federal district court judges and Senate-confirmed federal law enforcement officials in the District. As a member of the same political party, Presidents Clinton and Obama extended me the courtesy to recommend such officials in the same manner as Democratic senators…As a member of a different political party, President George W. Bush extended me the courtesy to consult on nominations.”

Sen. Feinstein Speaks at Supreme Court Nomination Hearing
(Democrat - California) 03/20/17
"Unfortunately, due to unprecedented treatment, Judge Garland was denied a hearing .... It is the Supreme Court that will have the final word on whether corporations will be able to pollute our air and water with impunity.... Congress relies on agency experts to write the specific rules, regulations, guidelines and procedures necessary to carry out laws we enact. These are what ensure the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to protect our environment from pollution.... Judge Gorsuch’s position, were it to be adopted, would take away agencies’ authorities to address these necessary details.... if we were to dogmatically adhere to “originalist” interpretations, then we would still have segregated schools and bans on interracial marriage. Women wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under the law. And government discrimination against LGBT Americans would be permitted."

SEN. TESTER: MONTANANS DESERVE TO SEE GORSUCH’S ANSWERS ‘FOR THEMSELVES’
(Democrat - Montana) 03/20/17
Senator Jon Tester today issued the following statement on the opening day of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing: "While more out-of-state special interests blanket Montana with TV ads trying to tell us what's best, all Montanans deserve to see for themselves how Judge Gorsuch answers tough questions during a public hearing. I look forward to a fair and honest hearing and I will continue to do my due diligence to learn about where he stands on issues that are important to Montanans."

[VIDEO] Senator Coons delivers opening statement at Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing
(Democrat - Delaware) 03/20/17
"What stands out to me is your tendency to go beyond the issues that need to be resolved in the case before you. I have seen a pattern in which you have filed dissents, dissents from denials of rehearing, concurrences, or even concurrences to your own majority opinions, to explore broader issues than what's necessary, to revisit long-settled precedent, and to promote dramatic changes to the law. This pattern concerns me because these additional writings hint at an unwillingness to settle on a limited conclusion and forge a narrow consensus with your colleagues."

Sen. Warren Op-Ed: Neil Gorsuch does not belong on the Supreme Court
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 03/20/17
"When Justice Antonin Scalia died last year, giant corporations and their right-wing buddies spent millions of dollars to keep the Supreme Court seat open so that Donald Trump could fill the vacancy. It was only the latest step in their campaign to tilt our courts in favor of big corporations and the wealthy. Now, the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is their reward. Anyone who believes in a neutral Supreme Court guided by equal justice for all should oppose this nomination.... There is only one question that should guide us in that decision: whether the nominee will defend equal justice for every single one of us — rich or poor, black or white, female or male, gay or straight, popular or unpopular. Gorsuch’s record shows that he is not that nominee."

Sen. Klobuchar Opening Statement at Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing for Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - Minnesota) 03/20/17
"These modern agency decisions include things like rules protecting public safety, requirements against lead-based paint, and clean water protections for our Great Lakes. Last year, in your concurring opinion to a decision that you authored in Gutierrez v. Lynch, you suggested that Chevron should be overturned. Yet this act would have titanic real-world implications on all aspects of our everyday lives. Countless rules could be in jeopardy, protections that matter to the American people would be compromised, and there would be widespread uncertainty about our laws.

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On The Nomination Of Neil Gorsuch To Be An Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/20/17
"Because of the concerns I have about Judge Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy, the process by which he was selected, and the views of the president who nominated him, I hope, Judge, that you will answer my questions, and the questions of all Senators, as clearly as possible."

Sen. Hirono: Supreme Court Vacancy Is About Future of Our Country
(Democrat - Hawaii) 03/20/17
"[Y]ou have gone to great lengths to disagree with your colleagues on the 10th Circuit so that you can explain why some obscure or novel legal interpretation of a particular word in statute must result in finding for a corporation instead of an individual who has suffered real life harm. This tendency demonstrates a commitment to ideology over common sense, and the purpose of the law, and is deeply troubling.... Will the Court protect our land, water, and earth or gut decades of environmental regulations? Will the Court protect access to our justice system or slam the courthouse doors to all but the wealthiest among us?"

Sens. Rubio and Bill Nelson letter asks President Trump to keep judicial picks they sent to Obama
(Republican - Florida) 03/16/17
"For the past several decades, Florida's US. Senators have worked in a bipartisan manner to provide finalists for US. District Court vacancies in our state. These finalists are recommended by the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission of Florida. Comprised of leading lawyers throughout Florida and members of the general public, the INC conducts a thorough selection process that identifies finalists for such vacancies. On April 28, 2016, President Obama nominated Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for two US. District Court vacancies in the Middle District and Philip Lammens for the US. District Court vacancy in the Northern District. These individuals were all INC-recommended finalists, and we indicated our support for their confirmation by favorably submitting blue slips to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Because there was no timely action taken on these nominations last Congress, we respectfully request that you nominate these highly qualified individuals for the US. District Court vacancies as soon as possible. We have no objections to these individuals, subject to any further review of their records and background. Moreover, timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies."

Sen. Bennet on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Colorado) 03/16/17
“I’ve not yet made a decision in how I’m going to vote,” he said. “He’s been a judge here for a long time and many many people speak highly.”

Sens. Bill Nelson and Rubio letter asks President Trump to keep judicial picks they sent to Obama
(Democrat - Florida) 03/16/17
"For the past several decades, Florida's US. Senators have worked in a bipartisan manner to provide finalists for US. District Court vacancies in our state. These finalists are recommended by the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission of Florida. Comprised of leading lawyers throughout Florida and members of the general public, the INC conducts a thorough selection process that identifies finalists for such vacancies. On April 28, 2016, President Obama nominated Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for two US. District Court vacancies in the Middle District and Philip Lammens for the US. District Court vacancy in the Northern District. These individuals were all INC-recommended finalists, and we indicated our support for their confirmation by favorably submitting blue slips to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Because there was no timely action taken on these nominations last Congress, we respectfully request that you nominate these highly qualified individuals for the US. District Court vacancies as soon as possible. We have no objections to these individuals, subject to any further review of their records and background. Moreover, timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies."

Sen. Blumenthal on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 03/15/17
“I will be pressing him and aggressively questioning him on all these issues,” Blumenthal said at a news conference with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that featured three individuals with compelling stories of Gorsuch’s actions in their lawsuits. “He has an obligation to come clean to the American people.” And if he doesn’t, at least to Blumenthal’s satisfaction? “If he shows he’s out of the mainstream, I will use every tool available — including filibuster — to oppose him.”

Sen. Blumenthal on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 03/15/17
Blumenthal criticized Gorsuch for failing to answer clear questions about his views on worker protections, consumer rights, women's healthcare, privacy rights and the independence of the judiciary in meetings with senators. "I will be pressing him and aggressively questioning him on all of these issues because he has an obligation to come clean with the American people before he assumes a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court," he said. "And if he shows in his answers that he is out of the mainstream as his opinions indicate he very well may be, I will use every tool available, including the filibuster, to oppose him."

Sen. Van Hollen on 60 vote standard for Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Maryland) 03/15/17
Sen. Chris Van Hollen ... said the nominee would have a chance to respond at his hearing to concerns about his record. “We’ve been really clear that you need to meet the 60-vote standard,” Van Hollen said of fellow Democrats. “As of right now, I think they’re a long way from getting to that number.”

Sen. Tester on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Montana) 03/15/17
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, told CNN he has not made up his mind. "I want to give him time to get through the hearing," Tester said. "I'm going to do what I think is right for the court and the judicial branch. If that means voting for or against him, I'll do one or another when it comes."

Sen. Schumer Floor Statement: NOMINATION OF NEIL GORSUCH
(Democrat - New York) 03/15/17
"Judge Gorsuch may act like a studied, neutral judge, but his record suggests he actually has a rightwing, pro-corporate, special interest agenda.... e has far too often sided with the powerful few over everyday Americans trying get a fair shake. He has repeatedly sided with insurance companies that want to deny disability benefits to employees.... On money in politics, the scourge, the poison of our political system--undisclosed dark money--Judge Gorsuch seems to be in the same company as Justices Thomas and Scalia, willing to restrict the most commonsense contribution limits. Judge Gorsuch's record demonstrates he prefers CEOs over citizens, executives over employees, corporations over consumers. Later this morning, I will be meeting with people who have personally experienced the real-life implications of Judge Gorsuch's decisions: Alphonso Maddin from Michigan, a truckdriver who was fired because he left his vehicle when freezing; Patricia Caplinger from Missouri, who sued Medtronic after being injured by a medical device implanted in a non-FDA-approved manner; David Hwang and Katherine Hwang, whose late mother, Proffer Grace Hwang, sued Kansas State University after being fired following a 6-month leave for cancer and requesting to work at home because of a flu epidemic. Their stories illuminate the real-world effects of a judge ... for most Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom want the Court to bring justice to the people who have less power--and the Court is their last resort--there are plenty of principled reasons to vote against Judge Gorsuch."

Sen. Warren on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 03/15/17
Noting that Senate Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama from replacing Scalia when the justice died a year ago, Warren said "giant corporations and their right-wing buddies" are responsible for Trump's decision to nominate Gorsuch, a "payoff" for their support. In cases involving issues ranging from contraception to consumer rights, "Gorsuch chose corporations," the Massachusetts Democrat said. "We don't need another Supreme Court justice to help out giant corporations. We need a Supreme Court justice who will uphold justice for all."

Sen. Leahy on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/15/17
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said that “on areas of surveillance and torture, what I’ve seen so far, his views are a lot different than mine.” “When Judge Gorsuch was working for the administration, at least based on the initial things I’ve looked at, he appears to be a cheerleader for President Bush’s views on executive powers,” Leahy said, declining to specify which documents he had seen.

Sen. Schumer on Gorsuch: Don’t change the rules, change the nominee
(Democrat - New York) 03/15/17
“If a nominee cannot get 60 votes, you don’t change the rules, you change the nominee,” Schumer said, noting that Democrats didn’t change the rules when they were in power “because we knew it was such an important position it ought to get some bipartisan support.” He also claimed “a good number of our Republican colleagues” are against such a change....“Neil Gorsuch may act like an neutral, calm judge, but his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special-interest agenda,” Schumer said at a press conference Wednesday, alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and people Gorsuch has ruled against on the 10th Circuit. “He enacted [that agenda] time and time again on the 10th Circuit. I have no doubt he’d do it again on the Supreme Court,” Schumer added.... “It’s also another contradiction in President Trump,” he said. “He campaigned and talks about helping average folks. His first nominee to the Supreme Court has an instinctive reaction to side with big special corporate interest over average folks.”

Sen. Feinstein: Gorsuch Documents Incomplete
(Democrat - California) 03/14/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on Judge Neil Gorsuch to provide additional documents in advance of his nomination hearing for the Supreme Court. “With your hearing only six days away, it has come to my attention that your response via the Department of Justice to my letter of February 22 is incomplete and must be supplemented immediately,” Feinstein wrote. Feinstein went on to request additional documents and information in several areas she said were incomplete, including a number of issues related to executive power and national security, such as litigation Judge Gorsuch participated in or may have supervised as a high-ranking official in the Bush Justice Department from 2005 to 2006. “Documents produced by the Justice Department demonstrate you had a leading role in litigation and strategy over executive power and national security matters that have not yet been identified to the Committee,” Feinstein wrote. Full text of the letter follows:

Sen. Leahy: Clouds On The Horizon: The Public’s Right To Know Is Under Attack
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/13/17
"Next week the Senate Judiciary Committee will convene for crucial hearings to consider the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the United States Supreme Court. These hearings are a unique moment when all three branches of government converge as senators consider a presidentially appointed nominee to serve on the highest court in the land. I plan to use these public hearings to ask Judge Gorsuch about vital matters affecting millions of Americans, and about how he will approach those issues if he is confirmed.... Next week, Vermonters and all Americans will be able to tune in to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s public consideration of a Supreme Court nominee. While this same process should have been afforded to Chief Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s highly qualified nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Republicans broke a century of Senate tradition and refused him the opportunity of a public hearing. Now we are faced with a new nominee for the highest court in the land, nominated by a president who has already shown hostility to independent judges who dare to uphold the Constitution, and to journalists so bold as to write the truth. Next week’s hearings mark a time where transparency and a free press can illuminate for the American people exactly what is at stake with this Supreme Court nominee and this presidency. During this Sunshine Week, let us all remember to keep the spotlight shining.

Sen. Blumenthal on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 03/13/17
Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said a central question of the hearings would be whether Judge Gorsuch passes the “Trump litmus test” laid out during the campaign, when Mr. Trump pledged to nominate a judge with traditionally conservative credentials on issues like abortion and gun rights. “It’s a fascinating process because clearly he has strengths in intellect and articulateness that make him an appealing candidate,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “But — and it’s a big ‘but’ — what are his core beliefs?”