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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Hatch on filling Utah federal district court vacancy
(Republican - Utah) 05/08/17
Even with the announcement of the new nominees, other Republicans are eager for the Trump White House to send more candidates for the judiciary, particularly for vacancies in their home states. “We’re concerned,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. There is one judicial vacancy in Utah, which has been open since 2014. “We’ve already made our suggestions. They know that we’re interested in getting that taken care of.”

Sen. Durbin on President Trump judicial selections
(Democrat - Illinois) 05/08/17
“We know that there is a prized list now from [conservative] special interest groups and one of them is now on the Supreme Court,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-ranking Senate Democrat, said Monday, referring to recently-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. “If that’s the way the president is going to choose the leaders of the judiciary, we need to ask some probing questions about why these special interest groups believe these particular judges are the best choices.” Of the blue-slip powers, Durbin added: “As long as we have the authority, we’ll use it if necessary.”

Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Members on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Republican - Idaho, Arizona, North Carolina, Louisiana) 05/08/17
In addition to Grassley, more than a half-dozen other Republicans on the judiciary panel said in interviews that they have no plans to ditch blue slips. ... Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who has 11 district court vacancies in his home state, along with two empty appellate court seats, called the blue slip an “equal opportunity irritant.” “When it’s an impediment, then people don’t like it. When it’s helpful, people like it,” Cornyn said. “What it does [is], it provokes a negotiation, which I don’t think is an altogether bad thing.” Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) offered a similar defense of the practice. “We used it effectively — myself with Sen. [John] McCain — to negotiate with the Obama administration on judges,” Flake said. “I like that tradition.”

Sen. Franken on lack of meaningful consultation on David Stras Eighth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Minnesota) 05/08/17
A spokesman for Franken said the senator was “not meaningfully” consulted and the White House declined the Minnesota senator’s recommendations to fill the vacancy at the St. Louis-based appeals court. A separate Senate Democratic aide said the Trump administration notified, rather than consulted, the senators, declining to ask for input before announcing the nominee. Lack of consultation on judicial nominees goes against traditional White House practice, say veterans of the nominations process. “In the Obama administration, people would not return their blue slips simply because they felt they weren’t consulted efficiently,” said Christopher Kang, who served as deputy counsel to former President Barack Obama. Kang, now the national director at the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, said 17 judicial nominees during Obama’s tenure were blocked because home-state senators declined to give approval, or return his or her blue slip to the Judiciary Committee.

(Republican - Idaho) 05/08/17
Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch today welcomed the nomination of Idaho District Judge David C. Nye of Pocatello by President Donald Trump to fill the open U.S. District Court judgeship in Idaho. Judge Nye was previously nominated to the same position by President Obama in 2016 and approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The 114th Congress concluded without completing the confirmation process. The Trump administration, in consultation with both Crapo and Risch, re-nominated Judge Nye as one of the first district judicial nominations sent to the Senate by the White House. “I thank the President for moving quickly to renominate Judge Nye. His unanimous approval by the Judiciary Committee last year demonstrates Judge Nye’s eminent qualifications of strong credentials and service to the legal community,” said Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing the nomination. “According to the Judicial Conference, Idaho, like many other states, is facing a judicial emergency and needs a second District Court judge to help manage its caseload. I will be working with my colleagues to move Judge Nye’s confirmation and hope that he will be confirmed quickly.” "Today's announcement is a win for Idahoans and our state's judicial system," said Senator Risch. "Judge Nye is a sound and principled jurist who has my full confidence. I will continue to work with my colleagues to have his nomination confirmed as expeditiously as possible, as I have since day one."

Sen. Cornyn [on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees]
(Republican - Texas) 05/08/17
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who has 11 district court vacancies in his home state, along with two empty appellate court seats, called the blue slip an “equal opportunity irritant.” “When it’s an impediment, then people don’t like it. When it’s helpful, people like it,” Cornyn said. “What it does [is], it provokes a negotiation, which I don’t think is an altogether bad thing.”

Sen. McConnell Comments on Nomination of John Bush from Kentucky
(Republican - Kentucky) 05/08/17
“I commend President Trump on his strong judicial nominations announced today, including John Bush, of Louisville, to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. John has built a reputation as a talented litigator, trying complex cases in both state and federal courts. Through his broad array of experiences, John has proven his legal ability and earned the respect of his peers. He will make a strong addition to the Sixth Circuit, and I look forward to the Senate confirming him.”

Sen. Franken’s Statement on Trump Nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras for the Eighth Circuit
(Democrat - Minnesota) 05/08/17
Senator Al Franken, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on President Trump's nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to serve on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: "Justice David Stras is a committed public servant whose tenure as a professor at the University of Minnesota underscores how much he cares about the law. I am concerned, however, by that fact that Judge Stras' nomination is the product of a process that relied heavily on guidance from far-right Washington, DC-based special interest groups—rather than through a committee made up of a cross-section of Minnesota's legal community. As President Trump's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, I will be taking a close look at his record and his writings in the coming weeks to better understand how he thinks about the important matters before our federal courts today."

Sen. Schumer Statement on President Trump’s 1st Slate of Lower Court Nominees
(Democrat - New York) 05/08/17
“Instead of allowing these groups to single-handedly pick judges that will tilt the lower courts to the hard right for a generation, the president should work with members of both parties to pick judges from within the judicial mainstream who will interpret the law rather than make it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.

Idaho Senators feel Judge Nye renomination could expedite confirmation
(Republican - Idaho) 05/07/17
In Idaho, Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, had urged the Trump administration to re-up Nye's nomination this year, Crapo said in an interview last week. “He’s already been through an FBI process and through the [American Bar Association] process,” Crapo said of Nye. “And so although there probably has to be a short, quick redo of that, we feel [the confirmation] could be expedited.”

Sen. Rubio Press Release: Carlos López-Cantera to Chair Statewide Panel Vetting Federal Judicial Candidates
(Republican - Florida) 05/04/17
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) will once again constitute the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) to identify highly qualified individuals as finalists to become U.S. district judges in each of the three judicial districts in Florida. ... “I am extremely pleased to have Carlos López-Cantera serve as statewide chair of Florida’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission,” said Rubio. “Carlos is well-suited for this position and I am confident he is dedicated to this important process and will successfully lead the commission in identifying exceptional candidates to serve on the federal bench in Florida. I look forward to reviewing the commission’s selections and working with Senator Nelson and the president to ensure that these critical positions are filled.”... The commission will send the names of the finalists to Senators Rubio and Nelson for their individual and independent review and, if neither senator objects, those names will be forwarded to the White House for the president’s consideration. Both senators reserve their constitutional rights to render advice and consent on any candidate or nominee.

Sen. Bill Cassidy forms panel to vet judicial, U.S. attorney nominees; [Sen.] John Kennedy goes it alone
(Republican - Louisiana) 05/02/17
"[O]pen jobs include 129 seats on the federal bench, of which four are in district courts in Louisiana. ... Cassidy has appointed a team to vet candidates. The group is led by his brother, lawyer David Cassidy .... David Cassidy said the committee has not yet started vetting candidates for the various open positions, in part because it’s been difficult to get the whole group in one room at the same time. Kennedy, meanwhile, is doing his own vetting, according to a spokeswoman."

Sen. Flake Presses 9th Circuit on Court’s Taxpayer-funded Lobbying Efforts Against Split Legislation
(Republican - Arizona) 05/01/17
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today sent a follow-up letter to the top administrator for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit questioning the court’s political activities geared toward resisting his legislation to create a new 12th Circuit.... “Establishing a new federal circuit with stronger local, regional, and cultural ties will ease the caseload burden across the West and ensure that Arizonans finally get the swift access to justice they deserve,” said Flake. “While we must protect judicial independence, we must also ensure that 9th Circuit officials do not interfere with Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of our federal courts.”

Sen. Risch on White House agrees to re-nominate Judge Nye for long-vacant Idaho federal judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 04/27/17
The White House has signed off on the re-nomination of Idaho Judge David Nye to fill Idaho’s long-vacant federal district judgeship, Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch said Thursday.... Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last June, but his nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate ... Though Crapo and Risch continued pushing for the Idaho nomination, they had to start over after the election, to get new President Donald Trump to sign on. "We have been in constant communication with the White House regarding Judge Nye," Risch said Thursday. "The White House has assured us that he will be in the first wave of judges to advance, and we anticipate that happening soon."

Sen. Crapo on White House agrees to re-nominate Nye for long-vacant Idaho judgeship
(Republican - Idaho) 04/27/17
“The White House has told me that Judge Nye will be included in the very first group of district judicial nominees that it sends to the Senate,” Crapo said. “While I have yet to be given a definitive timeline for that renomination, I will be active in ushering Judge Nye through the Judiciary Committee once his nomination is received.” Nye won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last June, but his nomination never came up for a vote in the full Senate, ..... Though Crapo and Idaho Sen. Jim Risch continued pushing for the Idaho nomination, they had to start over after the election, to get new President Donald Trump to sign on.... “He previously appeared before and was unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee,” Crapo said, “so I will be working with my colleagues to move his renomination quickly.”

Sen. Cruz: Breaking up 9th Circuit Court ‘a possibility’
(Republican - Texas) 04/27/17
“I think that’s a topic I can easily see the [Senate] Judiciary Committee taking up, and we’ll have to see whether we have to votes to do that or not.” Cruz added that California’s inclusion in the court’s jurisdiction has given it a liberal tilt. “I think many of the Western states are weighted down by California,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate said. “California has a ton of very liberal, left-wing judges that they put on the 9th Circuit. I think a lot of the other Western states would love to be freed from that corrosive left-wing influence.”

Prepared Statement by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Hearing on Nominations
(Republican - Iowa) 04/26/17
I’m pleased to hold this nominations hearing for the first Circuit Court nominee of this Congress, Judge Thapar. In 2008, Judge Thapar became the first-ever South Asian American Article III Judge and if confirmed now, he’ll only be the second ever South Asian American judge to serve on an appellate court."

Sen. Schumer slaps down Trump's plans for 9th Circuit
(Democrat - New York) 04/26/17
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday he rejects any plans by President Trump to break up the 9th Circuit Court. Schumer responded to Trump's Wednesday interview with the Washington Examiner, in which he said he is "absolutely" looking at breaking up the 9th Circuit with a two-word tweet. "Absolutely not," Schumer said.

Majority Leader McConnell Introduces Judge Thapar from Kentucky at Nomination Hearing
(Republican - Kentucky) 04/26/17
"Through this hearing, I think you will come to see the bright, fair, and dedicated man who will make an incredible addition to the Sixth Circuit. Indeed, on Monday the American Bar Association gave him their highest rating, unanimously well-qualified."

Sen. Warren on Money and Garland and Gorsuch Supreme Court nominations
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 04/26/17
"I mean, what did you think when you saw billionaires jump in a little over a year ago when Justice Scalia died? President Obama comes up with the all-American consensus candidate, Merrick Garland, someone who had won praise from not just the left but the right, and the hammer drops, bam! Mitch McConnell announces, "We're not even going to meet with him, we're not going to have any hearings," and money starts rolling in. You know, if money hadn't rolled in to start running those ads against Merrick Garland, to threaten to run ads against Republicans who didn't fall into line, then my guess is a lot of folks across America, Democrats and Republicans, would have said, "You know, he looks like a pretty good choice. He doesn't excite anybody on either end of the spectrum, [but he’s] the sort of guy who ought to be able to get 60 votes. Let's give him a hearing, let's see what he's like." And he would be sitting on the United States Supreme Court. Instead, money made itself felt in that process, and what we ended up with is a justice who, again, money was spent to advance [Neil] Gorsuch."

Judiciary Committee Member Sen. Lindsey Graham hopes blue slip process does not change
(Republican - South Carolina) 04/23/17
Also unclear is whether the traditional practice will persist in which both senators from a state, regardless of party, consult with the White House on a nominee and then have to approve of the nominee for the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward.... Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a committee member, says he thinks the future of the bipartisan process is "the real fight" going forward. He says he hopes it doesn't change. "I think there's a lot of desire to keep that power within the Senate," he said.

Report: Sen. Schumer on NY federal judicial nominee Senate Judiciary Committee approved unanimously in 2016
(Democrat - New York) 04/19/17
[S]enators can use a "blue slip" veto to block judicial nominees from their home state. That tradition gives Schumer and other Democratic senators more leverage over home-state federal court appointments. Schumer declined to comment for this article, but he has remained adamant that the judicial nominee he recommended to then-President Barack Obama for the post in Buffalo, Kathleen Sweet, be confirmed as Buffalo's next federal judge. "Sen. Schumer continues to support her candidacy," Jason Kaplan, a spokesman for Schumer, said earlier this month. "He believes that Kathleen Sweet, a talented lawyer who has a deep commitment to Buffalo, a city where she was born and raised, would still be an outstanding nominee."

Senators Cantwell and Murray Reaffirm Bipartisan Choices for Western District Vacancies
(Democrat - Washington) 04/14/17
Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA)and Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statements after forwarding the candidates selected by Washington state’s bipartisan judicial selection committee to the Trump Administration: Senator Cantwell: “This bipartisan judicial selection committee is so important to our judicial system. It helps ensure an independent, bottom-up process to identify qualified, mainstream judicial nominees. I hope President Trump will continue to use our bipartisan process and nominate one of these highly qualified candidates selected by this committee to reflect the voice and values of our state.”... Following long-standing Washington state tradition, and in order to ensure a bipartisan process to fill vacant seats on the federal courts, Sens. Murray and Cantwell joined Rep. Reichert in July of 2015 to create a new judicial selection committee to evaluate interested candidates. The committee, comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans from Western Washington, screened potential candidates and presented its choice of the most highly-qualified to Murray and Cantwell, who then forwarded the names to President Obama.

Sens. Murray and Cantwell Reaffirm Bipartisan Choices for Western District Vacancies
(Democrat - Washington) 04/14/17
Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statements after forwarding the candidates selected by Washington state’s bipartisan judicial selection committee to the Trump Administration: Senator Murray: “On Wednesday I talked to White House Counsel Don McGahn about the urgent need to fill the vacancies on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, as well the importance and strong history of our state’s bipartisan judicial selection process. I reminded him that the bipartisan selection process that Senator Cantwell, Rep. Reichert, and I set up in 2015 to fill these vacancies had already done the work of screening candidates and had come up with a list of five highly qualified candidates that were sent to the previous Administration. Per his request, I followed up today to reaffirm the list of highly qualified candidates that had been selected by our bipartisan committee. I am glad that this Administration is taking steps to continue this important bipartisan process, and I look forward to the President nominating judges from our bipartisan list as quickly as possible.”

Sen. Toomey supports renomination of Obama judicial nominee
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 04/13/17
On whether he would support a renomination of U.S. Magistrate Susan Paradise Baxter, a Democrat from Erie, to fill Erie’s vacant federal judge seat. Toomey supported Baxter when President Barack Obama nominated her in 2015, but with a new president, the process to fill vacancies has reset: “I am supportive. I went to great lengths to try to get Judge Baxter across the line. We weren’t quite able to do that. But we’ll have another opportunity.”

Sen. Coons on filling Delaware district court vacancy
(Democrat - Delaware) 04/09/17
Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat, said he has had a “very constructive conversation about the path forward” with the administration about filling the one district court opening in his home state.

Sen. King Statement on Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
(Independent - Maine) 04/07/17
“While I did not support Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation, I do sincerely hope that the concerns that led me to vote no today will be proven wrong. I would be delighted if this were the case in the long-term. However, today I had to vote my convictions and not my hopes.”

Sen. Franken’s Statement on His Vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice
(Democrat - Minnesota) 04/07/17
"After meeting him, carefully reviewing his record, and questioning him during his confirmation hearing, I voted against confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court because I believe he will put powerful corporate interests over the rights of average Minnesotans. During his time on the Tenth Circuit, Judge Gorsuch went out of his way to consistently rule for corporations over workers, corporations over consumers, and corporations over women's health. "If my Republican colleagues truly believe that a judge's proper role is to call balls and strikes and to decide cases narrowly, they would have confirmed Chief Judge Merrick Garland last year, a consensus-builder with a proven track record. But instead, Republicans engaged in truly unprecedented obstruction to deny Judge Garland a hearing and block his confirmation. "I fear that today's vote on Judge Gorsuch guarantees more of the same: a sharply divided, activist Supreme Court that makes decisions at great cost to consumers, workers, small businesses, and middle class Americans."

Sen. Grassley on circuit and district court nominee blue slip requirement
(Republican - Iowa) 04/07/17
One hurdle is the “blue slip” process, in which senators are asked to review judicial nominees who are slated to take seats in their home states. If both senators from the state don’t return their blue slips, the nomination is usually put on hold. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, told reporters Friday that although “there’s been some exception to the blue slip rule,” he generally intends to follow the tradition for Mr. Trump’s nominees.

(Democrat - Oregon) 04/07/17
“Today, for the first time in history, the theft of a Supreme Court seat has been completed, profoundly damaging the integrity of the Court. From today forward, every 5-4 decision with Neil Gorsuch in the majority will lack the same legitimacy it would have held before. Now, the Court is just one more political entity to be rigged in political parties’ favor, with dismal consequences for the American people. “Gorsuch’s extreme views on worker protections, women’s rights, corporate power, campaign cash and more will have very real and damaging repercussions for the American people for decades to come. Today is a very dark day for America.”