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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Grassley spokesman on blue slips
(Republican - Iowa) 09/13/17
“The blue slip consultation process typically grants the President greater deference on circuit court nominees than at the district level,” Taylor Foy, a Judiciary Committee spokesman for Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), said in a statement. But, he added, just because the blue slip process isn’t absolute for appeals court nominees, it doesn’t mean senators shouldn’t still be consulted. “The blue slip process was always intended to ensure consultation, and Grassley fully expects senators to continue to abide by that tradition,” Foy said.

Sen. Schumer on home state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - New York) 09/13/17
With the conflict escalating, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has requested a meeting with Mr. McConnell and the top Republican and Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee to dissuade Republicans from weakening the blue slip. “Getting rid of the blue slip would be a mistake,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. He said he would argue to Mr. McConnell and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that since majority control of the Senate has been in flux in recent years, members of both parties should remember that they could find themselves back in the minority. “Preserving some of the minority’s power in the Senate has broad support because every one of us knows we’re probably going to be in some of each,” Mr. Schumer said.

Sen. Franken on home-state Senator role in judicial selection
(Democrat - Minnesota) 09/12/17
“When the [blue-slip] process works as it should, the White House joins with home-state senators to identify qualified, consensus nominees,” Franken said. “And when the president and the senators are of different parties, that should mean identifying judicial moderates. Unfortunately, President Trump has demonstrated that he is less concerned with working collaboratively to fill judicial vacancies than his predecessor, which is not surprising given the fact that he has outsourced the job of identifying potential judges to the far-right Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation.”

Sen. Bennet on blue slip for Allison Eid 10th Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Colorado) 09/08/17
“The blue slip has been submitted, but that’s not a sign of support,” a spokesperson for Bennet said. “He hasn’t weighed in, but she meets the minimum requirements for the position.”

NM Sens. on judicial selection
(Democrat - New Mexico) 09/08/17
Several members of the delegation declined to comment last week on the candidates or on whether they have concerns about Levi’s New Mexico experience. “The New Mexico delegation continues to work together to identify and recommend qualified New Mexicans for presidential appointments, as it did with the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal nominations,” said Sens. Udall and Martin Heinrich – both Democrats – and Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, in a joint statement.

Norton Criticizes Trump Administration for Continuing to Ignore D.C. on Judicial Nominations, Virginia Resident Nominated
(Democrat - District of Columbia) 09/07/17
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) sharply criticized the Trump administration for its continued refusal to consult with her on nominations for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the administration today nominated Matthew Spencer Petersen, of Virginia, to serve as a judge. Norton will urge Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to question Petersen on whether he intends to reside in the District during his tenure, as she has done for previous Trump administration nominees. “Seven months into his presidency, the Trump administration continues to ignore and disrespect District residents by refusing to consult with us on nominations,” Norton said. “We demand a say, like residents of states, on those who will serve in our jurisdiction.”

Sens. Wyden & Merkley letter to White House Counsel
(Democrat - Oregon) 09/07/17
“As you are aware, in May we wrote you to explain Oregon’s long bipartisan tradition of working together to identify the most qualified candidates for judicial vacancies, ... “You have demonstrated that you were only interested in our input if we were willing to preapprove your preferred nominee... The judicial selection process is not a rubber stamp, and the insinuation that our offices were purposefully delaying the process is an indication of the partisanship with which you are pursing this nomination.”

Sen. Moran Applauds Nomination of John Broomes to be Federal District Court Judge for Kansas
(Republican - Kansas) 09/07/17
"I urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to swiftly act on his nomination so the full Senate can quickly confirm Mr. Broomes.”

Senators Isakson, Perdue Comment On Georgia Federal Judge Nominees: Branch nominated to 11th Circuit, Baker to Southern District
(Republican - Georgia) 09/07/17
“I applaud the president’s choices and look forward to working with these excellent judges as the confirmation process moves forward in the Senate,” said Senator Isakson. “Once again President Trump has nominated two impressive Georgians to fill judicial vacancies in Georgia,” said Senator Perdue. “I look forward to working through the Senate confirmation process with Lisa Branch on her nomination to a Georgia-based seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Stan Baker on his nomination to be a judge in the Southern District of Georgia.”

Sen. McConnell Statement on Nomination of Rebecca Grady Jennings of Kentucky to Serve on U.S. District Court
(Republican - Kentucky) 09/07/17
“President Trump made another impressive selection by nominating Rebecca Grady Jennings, of Louisville, to serve as a district judge for the Western District of Kentucky. Rebecca is an award-winning litigator with a deep knowledge of the law and her community. She will use her skills to serve the people of Kentucky well on the federal bench, and I look forward to the Senate confirming her nomination.”

Sen. Grassley: Hearings with Multiple Circuit Court Nominees Is Nothing New
(Republican - Iowa) 09/06/17
"I understand there is some concern with having two Circuit Court nominees on the hearing agenda. So, I want to take a moment to explain why these nominees are on today’s hearing. When the Majority Leader extended the Senate’s schedule into August, we scheduled a nominations hearing to consider Professor Barrett’s nomination for August 9th. That hearing was postponed when the Senate went into recess a week earlier than previously scheduled. So, I decided to make up for the hearing we lost in August and to combine Professor Barrett’s August hearing with today’s hearing. Of course, I aim to be fair in the process and made sure the other side had ample time to review these nominees’ qualifications."

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. 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.”

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. 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."

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."

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."

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).”

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."

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. 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.”

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. 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.

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.”