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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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Sen. Feinstein Speaks on Dreiband [and judicial] Nomination[s]
(Democrat - California) 09/06/17
"I’m interested in what Mr. Dreiband and our judicial nominees think about the Arpaio pardon, and what message they think such a pardon sends to people about the importance of complying with court orders, which is critical to the rule of law.... So today we’ll consider the nominations of two circuit court nominees – Professor Amy Coney Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court, and Justice Joan Larsen to the Sixth. Circuit court nominations are extremely important—if confirmed, Professor Barrett and Justice Larsen would sit on courts that are just one step below the United States Supreme Court. And because the Supreme Court hears so few cases each year, the courts of appeals are really the last word and last resort for most people in many of these cases. The committee, Mr. Chairman, will fully and fairly review each of these nominees’ records and their qualifications.”

Sen. Klobuchar Statement on Nomination of Justice Stras to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Minnesota) 09/05/17
"While Justice Stras was not my choice for the 8th Circuit Court, it is my view that he deserves a hearing before the Senate. “I am also concerned that this position could simply go to a less independent judge from another 8th Circuit state (Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota or South Dakota) since this is not a permanent Minnesota position. “I also respect the fact that Senator Franken has an equal role to play here. Under Senate practice, both Senators from a judicial nominee's home state must allow that nominee to have a hearing. Like Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, I support the practice as it is a check and balance regardless of whether a state is represented by two Democrats, two Republicans or one Democrat and one Republican. The policy has resulted in decision-making for judges across party lines. This policy has held true throughout the entire Obama administration, including when Republicans ran the Senate and when Democrats ran the Senate. Changing this policy would have serious ramifications for judicial nominations in every state in the country. Given this important policy, and given Senator Franken's view that Justice Stras should not be allowed a hearing in the Senate, the White House will need to provide additional names for the 8th Circuit position."

Sen. Franken to Oppose Nomination of Justice David Stras for Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: Senator Says Nominee’s Deeply Conservative Judicial Philosophy Raises Concerns about How He Would Approach Civil Rights & Equality, Suggests He Would Favor Powerful Corporations over Working Families
(Democrat - Minnesota) 09/05/17
"I had hoped that, in recognition of our different views, President Trump would work with me to identify a consensus candidate-a nominee whose experience demonstrates an ability to set aside rigid beliefs in favor of finding common ground. But rather than work together to select a nominee who is a judicial moderate, the White House had already settled on Justice Stras before first approaching me, and the president nominated him despite the concerns that I expressed. "Justice Stras's professional background and record strongly suggest that, if confirmed, he would embrace the legacy of his role models and reliably rule in favor of powerful corporate interests over working people, and that he would place a high bar before plaintiffs seeking justice at work, at school, and at the ballot box. The president should be seeking out judges who bridge the issues that divide us, but I fear that Justice Stras's views and philosophy would lead him to reinforce those divisions and steer the already conservative Eighth Circuit even further to the right. "It is for those reasons that, after careful consideration, I have decided to oppose his nomination and not to return a blue slip to the Committee."

White House Vetting Del. Senators' Picks for District Court Seats
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/05/17
"All three emerged as finalists after a weeks-long review process spearheaded by Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware's senior senator, and Sen. Chris Coons, who sits on the powerful Judiciary Committee.... they managed to hold off a group of Delaware Republicans who were advancing their own list of candidates.... both senators said that the White House Counsel's Office was actively mulling their selections. "We jointly interviewed these candidates, selected our recommendations, and then sent those recommendations on to the White House," Coons said in an emailed statement. "Our office has had discussions with White House Counsel Don McGahn, who invited our input, and his office indicated that our recommended candidates would be considered."... Carper and Coons had assembled a bipartisan judicial nominating commission, modeled off of Delaware's system for selecting candidates for state-level judgeships. According to sources, the panel reviewed between 10 and 20 candidates who had responded to Carper's calls for applications."

Chairman Grassley's Statement Ahead of Vote on D.C. District Court nominee Timothy J. Kelly
(Republican - Iowa) 09/05/17
"’m pleased today to support the nomination of Tim Kelly to be a Judge on the D.C. District Court. Tim serves as my Chief Counsel for National Security, Senior Crime Counsel, and Majority Staff Director for the Caucus on International Narcotics Control.... And he dedicated six months of his career to work at the Legal Aid Society of D.C.... The ABA gave him a unanimous “Well Qualified” rating"

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Importance of Blue Slips
(Democrat - California) 09/05/17
Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement reiterating that the Judiciary Committee should honor home-state senators’ decisions regarding blue slips for federal judicial nominees, including Senator Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) decision not to return a blue slip on David Stras, President Trump’s nominee to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: “It’s the prerogative of home-state senators to evaluate potential federal judicial nominees and determine whether or not they are mainstream and well-suited to hold these important positions of public trust, which have real-world consequences for their constituents. “The purpose of the blue slip is to ensure consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees from their states. I expect the committee to honor Senator Franken’s decision not to return a blue slip, as was always done when Republican senators didn’t return blue slips on President Obama’s nominees. “In 2016 alone, President Obama’s nominations of Abdul Kallon for the Eleventh Circuit, Justice Myra Selby for the Seventh Circuit, Rebecca Haywood for the Third Circuit and Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes for the Sixth Circuit didn’t move forward because they didn’t receive two blue slips. “I trust that this refusal to sign a blue slip will be treated the same way. If a nominee does not receive blue slips from both senators, the committee should not move forward.”

Three potential nominees for Cleveland federal judge submitted to Sen. Rob Portman
(Republican - Ohio) 09/01/17
Portman spokeswoman Emmalee Kalmbach said in a statement Friday that "the bipartisan judicial advisory commission will help Senators Portman and Brown select the best candidates for these important lifetime appointments. That process is ongoing and remains confidential."

Sen. Franken on nomination process and David Stras Eighth Cirucit nomination
(Democrat - Minnesota) 08/29/17
"We did not have meaningful consultation at all. Normally we are consulted about the choice. That’s the tradition, so if there’s any abuse here, it’s the Trump administration by saying this is who we are going with. Normally they would consult with the senators who would be part of the process of picking someone. There’s a reason for the blue slip and it’s basically like in this situation, a party controls the White House and the Senate, that they won’t load the court with very very conservative or very very liberal judges, so this creates some kind of balance. Justice Stras clerked with Justice Clarence Thomas, he said Clarence Thomas was his mentor. There are writings of his that suggest that he and from reports we’ve heard from students etc. that is very far to the right. He’s a nice guy. I talked to him. But I wasn’t assured. [Supreme Court Justice] Gorsuch was a nice guy, but you see how he’s ruling right now. The Eighth Circuit is pretty conservative right now. But I want to consider this. And I wasn’t terribly happy with the process. I think we’re going to have a decision very soon."

Sens. Warner, Kaine Now Accepting Applications for U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District
(Democrat - Virginia) 08/25/17
Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District to recommend nominations to the White House to replace retiring Judge Gerald Lee. An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the Members will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The Members will use those recommendations as they consider potential nominees to recommend to President Trump. The White House will then nominate an individual to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. “U.S. District Judges are tasked with the solemn responsibility of upholding the law. They ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice in vitally important civil and criminal cases,” said the Senators. “As we begin the application process for this key position in Virginia’s Eastern District, we look forward to reviewing qualified candidates and selecting the right individuals.”

Sen. Feinstein on Ninth Circuit Split: Unnecessary, Needless Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
(Democrat - California) 08/24/17
“Proponents of splitting the Ninth Circuit rely on misleading arguments and it’s important to set the record straight. These efforts have nothing to do with caseload,” said Senator Feinstein. “In fact, splitting the Ninth Circuit would be a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. The simple fact is that calls by President Trump and Senate Republicans to split the Ninth Circuit are simply a political response to decisions they don’t like.” “Proposals to split the Ninth Circuit are opposed by judges appointed by presidents of both parties as well as the broader legal community and the business community, which benefits greatly from uniformity in federal law in Western states.”

Sen. Tom Udall letter quoted in Court nominee’s lack of NM roots prompts concern
(Democrat - New Mexico) 08/09/17
Sen Tom Udall, D-N.M. and a former New Mexico attorney general, wrote a letter to White House Counsel Donald McGahn II in August, noting that a New Mexico background is crucial to wining his vote for confirmation. “To gain my support, the president’s nominee must be a native New Mexican with a deep understanding of the legal issues that arise in the state, such as water rights, Indian law and public lands,” Udall wrote in a letter to McGahn on Aug. 9, before the White House had forwarded its list of potential nominees to the New Mexico congressional delegation. Udall also noted in the letter that Browning “would be an excellent appellate court judge and I would accept his nomination contingent on a clean FBI background check and acceptable rating by the A.B.A (American Bar Association).”

Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin forward names to President Trump from bipartisan commission for Eastern District of Wisconsin judicial vacancy
(Democrat, Republican - Wisconsin) 08/04/17
A bipartisan state commission has made recommendations to Wisconsin's two senators on federal nominations since 1979. The senators take the commission's picks and forward them on to the White House for consideration.... Baldwin and Johnson jointly announced Friday that the commission had recommended Michael Aprahamian, Gordon Giampietro, Kevin Martens and Rick Sankovitz to fill an open seat in the federal court covering the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The senators said they forwarded the names to Trump on Thursday.

Senator Stabenow Returns Blue Slip for Nomination of Justice Joan Larsen to Serve on Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Michigan) 08/04/17
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced that she has returned the blue slip for Justice Joan Larsen’s nomination to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. “Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments,” said Senator Stabenow. “As part of my constitutional duty, I have consulted with Michigan’s legal community, reviewed Justice Larson’s background and qualifications and most recently, personally met with her. My meeting with Justice Larson was productive. I have returned the Senate’s procedural “blue slip” which will allow the nomination process to move forward with the Senate Judiciary Committee. I look forward to hearing more from Justice Larsen during her confirmation hearing in the Judiciary Committee and will continue to evaluate her nomination.”

Sen. Stabenow interview on blue slip for Joan Larsen Sixth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 08/04/17
Stabenow said she was very impressed by Larsen when she met with her last week. She said she'd spent a "tremendous amount of time" going through Larsen's record and past decisions over the last few months and believes the process should now move forward. "In my judgement, there's no reason for her not to proceed," Stabenow said.

Sen. Baldwin on Michael Brennan 7th Circuit nomination in disregard of Wisconsin bipartisan process
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 08/04/17
The president’s nomination bypassed the state’s Federal Nominating Commission, which was established in Wisconsin in 1979 by U.S. Sens. William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson. Since then, the state’s U.S. senators have used the commission to recommend to the president judicial nominees for every U.S. attorney and federal judicial vacancy. Current U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson renewed their commitment to utilizing the six-member commission earlier this year. On Friday, Baldwin said Trump’s nomination showed "complete disregard for a bipartisan process." "President Trump has decided to go it alone and turn his back on a Wisconsin tradition of having a bipartisan process for nominating judges," Baldwin said. "I am extremely troubled that President (Trump) has taken a partisan approach that disrespects our Wisconsin process."

Sen. Peters Returns Blue Slip for Justice Joan Larsen Nomination: Larsen Nominated to Serve on Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Michigan) 08/04/17
Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he has returned the “blue slip” for the nomination of Justice Joan Larsen of Michigan to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is Senate tradition for home state Senators to consent to the consideration of a nomination by the Judiciary Committee through the “blue slip” process. “Federal judges make critical decisions that can directly impact the lives of Michiganders, and the Senate has an important constitutional responsibility to thoroughly review all nominees,” said Senator Peters. “I have returned the Senate 'blue slip,' and I look forward to learning more about Justice Larsen and her record as she continues through the Senate’s confirmation process. I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with Justice Larsen in person recently, and I will continue to do my due diligence and evaluate her qualifications and judicial approach along with my Senate colleagues.”

Joint Statement From Senators Lindsey Graham And Tim Scott On Judicial Nominations
(Republican - South Carolina) 08/04/17
“We very much appreciate President Trump nominating Don Coggins and Marvin Quattlebaum as federal district court judges for South Carolina. Both men are outstanding choices for these important positions. They are accomplished lawyers and highly respected in the legal field. They are also men of great character. Having two more federal district court judges in South Carolina is much-needed and overdue. “We again express our gratitude to President Trump for putting these nominees forward. We expect they will be overwhelmingly confirmed by the members of the United States Senate.”

Sen. Peters on blue slip for Joan Larsen Sixth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 08/04/17
Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters said Friday they have returned blue slips for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, allowing her nomination to the federal appellate bench to advance without saying whether they would vote for her. ... Peters said he also expects to learn more about Larsen during the upcoming confirmation process. “Federal judges make critical decisions that can directly impact the lives of Michiganders, and the Senate has an important constitutional responsibility to thoroughly review all nominees,” said Peters of Bloomfield Township. “I appreciated having the opportunity to meet with Justice Larsen in person recently, and I will continue to do my due diligence and evaluate her qualifications and judicial approach along with my Senate colleagues.”

Sen. Stabenow on blue slip for Joan Larsen Sixth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 08/04/17
Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters said Friday they have returned blue slips for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, allowing her nomination to the federal appellate bench to advance without saying whether they would vote for her.... “Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments,” Stabenow said in a statement. “As part of my constitutional duty, I have consulted with Michigan’s legal community, reviewed Justice Larson’s background and qualifications and, most recently, personally met with her. My meeting with Justice Larson was productive. I have returned the Senate’s procedural ‘blue slip,’ which will allow the nomination process to move forward with the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Stabenow of Lansing added that she looks forward to hearing more from Larsen during her confirmation hearing and that she would continue to evaluate her nomination.

Sen. Ron Johnson on Michael Brennan 7th Circuit nomination
(Republican - Wisconsin) 08/04/17
A bipartisan state commission has made recommendations to Wisconsin's two senators on federal nominations since 1979. The senators take the commission's picks and forward them on to the White House for consideration. The six-member commission issued another call for applicants for the 7th Circuit opening in February. None of the applicants, including Brennan, garnered the requisite five votes to win a recommendation.... Johnson issued a statement praising Trump for choosing Brennan. "Our nation's judicial system will be well served once he is confirmed by the Senate," the statement said. A Johnson spokesman didn't immediately reply to a question about Baldwin's criticism of the pick breaking with Wisconsin tradition.

Sens. Fischer & Sasse: President Nominates Steve Grasz for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
(Republican - Nebraska) 08/03/17
The senators recommended Grasz to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit earlier this year. “I want to congratulate Steve Grasz on his nomination to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit,” said Senator Fischer. “Steve has sterling credentials and impressive experience; his cases have been before the highest courts in Nebraska and our nation. Moreover, Steve’s temperament, integrity, and character are absolutely superb. I’m pleased to see the president follow through on our recommendation of this outstanding Nebraskan, and I look forward to seeing him swiftly confirmed by the Senate.” “Steve Grasz is a by-the-book kind of guy and that’s exactly what the 8th Circuit needs,” said Senator Sasse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “For decades, Steve has served Nebraskans with integrity and common-sense. As a constitutionalist, he knows that a judge’s job isn’t to make up laws but to apply them fairly to the facts.”

Sen. Isakson Applauds Senate Confirmation of VA Deputy Secretary, Five Additional Nominee
(Republican - Georgia) 08/03/17
“I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for their swift confirmation of these exceptional nominees. I have no doubt they will do great work on behalf of our nation’s veterans. I look forward to working with each of them in their future roles at the VA and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims,” said Isakson.... Amanda L. Meredith, Michael P. Allen, and Joseph L. Toth were also confirmed to be judges on the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Sen. McConnell Comments on Nomination of Judge Robert Wier of Kentucky to Serve on U.S. District Court
(Republican - Kentucky) 08/03/17
“I commend President Trump on his nomination of Judge Robert Wier of Versailles to serve as a district judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Through his service as a U.S. magistrate judge, Robert has gained the qualifications and experience necessary to excel in this new role. I look forward to the Senate confirming his nomination.”

Sen. Moran Applauds Nomination of Holly Teeter to be Federal District Court Judge for District of Kansas
(Republican - Kansas) 08/03/17
“Ms. Teeter is one of the brightest young legal minds in our state,” said Sen. Moran. “Her wide variety of legal experiences make her an excellent choice for the bench. I urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to swiftly act on her nomination so the full Senate can quickly confirm Ms. Teeter.”

Senator Roberts Applauds President’s Nomination of Holly Teeter To be Federal District Court Judge for Kansas District
(Republican - Kansas) 08/03/17
“Ms. Teeter is a well-qualified and impressive nominee who has my full support to serve Kansans as a federal court judge ... I will urge my colleagues to approve her nomination.”

[Sen.] Strange votes to confirm AL’s Newsom to Federal bench
(Republican - Alabama) 08/01/17
Senator Luther Strange heralded the step as a milestone of President Trump’s effort to fill the nation’s judicial vacancies. ... “The people of Alabama made their voices heard overwhelmingly last November in electing President Trump because they know that a new generation of judges stands ready to restore respect for the rule of law,” said Strange. “As with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, I was proud to vote for Kevin Newsom, and I look forward to his long tenure as a defender of the Constitution.”

Sen. Shelby Voices Support for Newsom Ahead of Senate Confirmation
(Republican - Alabama) 08/01/17
"I believe President Trump has made the right decision in selecting Kevin to sit on the Eleventh Circuit."

Sen. Feinstein Floor Statement: NOMINATION OF KEVIN NEWSOM [and Kallon and Erickson nominations and blue slips]
(Democrat - California) 07/31/17
"I intend to support Mr. Newsom's nomination.... I voted to invoke cloture on Mr. Newsom's nomination today. My decision on every nominee will be based on that nominee's individual record. I also want to briefly remind my colleagues why we are even considering Mr. Newsom's nomination in the first place. In February 2016, President Obama nominated Alabama U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon for this very same vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit. Today Mr. Newsom was voted on because Senators Shelby and Strange returned blue slips for his nomination. I would like the Senate to also know that we held a hearing just last week that included Judge Ralph Erickson to be a judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals because Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp returned their blue slips. This shows the importance of the blue slip helping move nominations through the process. Democratic Senators are conducting their due diligence on these nominees before returning their blue slips, and in the Erickson nomination, the return of the blue slip is bipartisan. Many of the current nominees have voluminous records, and we need to allow home- State Senators to do their work."

Sen. Coons on judicial nominations and selection
(Democrat - Delaware) 07/27/17
"This will be the single most important legacy of the Trump administration," Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider. "They will quickly be able to put judges on circuit courts all over the country, district courts all over the country, that will, given their youth and conservatism, will have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of American law for decades. "I do think this deserves more attention given the consequence, the significance of what will eventually be a wholesale change among the federal judiciary," he continued...."What strikes me about the Trump administration's judicial-nomination process is how quickly they have moved," Coons said.... Coons said he and his fellow Democratic senator from Delaware, Tom Carper, were working with a judicial nominating advisory committee to help fill two district court vacancies in the state. Coons added that he expected the White House to consult him and Carper, and Grassley to continue the blue-slip practice. But he said that so far he felt that Grassley and the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, had done an admirable job in dealing with the massive number of nominations coupled with intense work involving the investigation into Russia's election interference.... Coons attributed the discrepancy in vacancies to "unprecedented obstruction by the Republican majority in the Senate in the latter years of the Obama administration" that led to many of these vacancies remaining unfilled.... Coons said the administration had clearly relied on The Federalist Society to do "virtually all their selection and vetting" of the nominees, adding that both the speed of nominations and the age of the nominees "have been striking." "Most have come before the committee so far have been a decade younger than the average nominee in previous administrations," he said. "And, you know, this partly reflects a long-term strategy by conservative judicial activists who over the last 30 years have developed a very strong bench, pun intended, of highly qualified, young lawyers who are educated and from well-regarded law schools, and are active in The Federalist Society, and had clerkships with senior judges, and are poised to be nominated and confirmed to take advantage of these openings."

Sen. Heitkamp Introduces Judge Ralph Erickson at Senate Hearing for his Nomination
(Democrat - North Dakota) 07/25/17
[VIDEO] Senator Heidi Heitkamp introduced Judge Ralph Erickson at a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Erickson’s nomination to serve as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which includes North Dakota.