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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Sen. Feinstein on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/24/17
Feinstein also pushed up against the protesters when she refused to say how she would vote on Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court. As the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I don’t announce what I’m going to do before the hearing,” she said. “I don’t believe that’s right.” But the crowd erupted in boos when she said that she had a good conversation with Gorsuch, with protesters suggesting Feinstein shouldn’t even have met with him. The senator said her two biggest concerns with Gorsuch, or any other Supreme Court nominee, are his views on gun control and women’s reproductive rights. But politics also will play a role, she admitted. The Republican refusal to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat Gorsuch is seeking, “sticks in our craw,” she said. “It’s hard to forget.”

Sen. Shaheen on Gorusch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/24/17
Shaheen did face some booing when she declared that federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, the President’s nominee to fill the high court vacancy, “will have a hearing, despite what Republicans did on Merrick Garland.” “It’s not in our interest to deny a hearing for Neil Gorsuch. That’s what’s proscribed in the Constitution. I’m not going to go out to say it was wrong for them and then right for us,” the Democratic senator from Madbury continued. But Shaheen predicted that “it will require 60 votes to pass the next Supreme Court judge.” … Hassan agreed with Shaheen, saying “I think it’s absolutely appropriate and right for us to do our constitutional duty and do our hearing.” Both senators seemed to indicate they’re leaning towards voting no on the President’s nominee. “I’m not going to support somebody who I believe is not going to address those major concerns I have for the court,” Shaheen declared.

Sen. Murphy on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 02/23/17
One asked Murphy whether he will vote to confirm President Donald J. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, whose Senate hearing begins March 20. Murphy met with the Republican president’s pick last week, is now reviewing his record and plans to come to a decision in the coming weeks or months. “He’s very impressive, he’s very thoughtful, he’s very smart,” Murphy said. “My concern — and this would be my concern with any judge not just Judge Gorsuch — is that I don’t want a judge bringing their politics into the Supreme Court. I want a judge who can interpret the law and not be activist.”

Sen. Murray on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Washington) 02/23/17
Murray said she had never pledged a filibuster. Later an aide clarified that the option isn’t off the table, but said the senator isn’t actively planning on the move. Speaking generally of Trump’s nominees, Murray said, “We have a responsibility to meet with them, to evaluate them, to really see what their philosophy is, what their personal experience is. And to then decide our votes on that.” Still, Murray said, Trump’s nominees, and especially for the Supreme Court, need extra scrutiny by virtue of their association with the president. “I am very concerned about any nominee at this time because we have a president who … believes that he is more important than the law,” she said.

Sen. Peters on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 02/21/17
Peters, who has met with Gorsuch, said he has an "open mind" about the judge but was noncommittal on whether he should get an up-or-down vote. He said some of Gorsuch's rulings "raise some flags." "Certainly he brings a set of qualifications to the job. My problem with him may deal more with some of his judicial philosophy. But again I'm going to wait for a final decision as I hear more," Peters said Tuesday after a Vietnam-era veterans event in Lansing.

Sen. Baldwin meets Gorsuch, restates her opposition
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 02/16/17
After meeting Thursday with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said the two had a "respectful and thoughtful conversation," but she reiterated her plans to vote against him and to support a filibuster against his nomination. “I found Judge Gorsuch to be very smart and we discussed a number of his rulings that I continue to have deep concerns about, including decisions against disabled students, against workers, and against women’s reproductive health care,” Baldwin said in a statement. “I will not support a Supreme Court nominee who has too often favored big business over workers and retirees. I also believe people deserve a Supreme Court justice who will protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Americans. I don’t have confidence Judge Gorsuch is that nominee.”... In her statement after meeting Gorsuch on Thursday, Baldwin said: “I was pleased to meet with Judge Gorsuch and we had a respectful and thoughtful conversation about his record and his nomination by President Trump to our nation’s highest court. In our meeting, we discussed President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary and Judge Gorsuch’s private comments about them." Baldwin was referring to private comments Gorsuch had made to senators lamenting attacks on the judiciary. "I told him that I believe such attacks are wrong," said Baldwin. "But I also told him that a judge who is strong and independent should not be demoralized by the president's tweets. The president and his administration have continued to attack judges since Judge Gorsuch made his private comments and I encouraged him to publicly call these attacks what they are, wrong."

Trump caved to far-right demands on SCOTUS pick, says Bob Casey after meeting Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 02/16/17
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., may have shared a few laughs on Thursday with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but he walked away with concerns about the judge's candidacy for the high court. Casey excoriated President Trump's "decision to give in to" the demands of far-right groups to select a nominee for the high court from their "approved list" in exchange for support. "President Trump's decision to give in to their demand and choose from only their list of nominees was unprecedented," Casey said, in a written statement. "It is essential that the next Supreme Court justice be truly independent so the court can fulfill its vital institutional role in our system of checks and balances. The decisions made by the next Supreme Court Justice will be extraordinarily consequential; the next Justice will be the deciding vote on a range of cases impacting the lives of tens of millions of Americans for a generation or more." With his confirmation hearing scheduled for March 20, Gorsuch on Thursday continued to make the rounds on Capitol Hill meeting with Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. He met with Casey's Republican counterpart Sen. Pat Toomey on Tuesday. "I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Judge Gorsuch today," Casey said. "I discussed with him some real concerns I have about his judicial philosophy and some of his opinions as a 10th Circuit Judge that were in conflict with federal agency decisions focused on protecting the health and safety of workers." ... Casey said that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts had ruled overwhelmingly in favor of big corporations and that Gorsuch's judicial record suggests he may continue that trend. "I discussed with Judge Gorsuch some of his decisions pertaining to critical civil rights laws protecting individuals with disabilities, like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," Casey said. "The rights of those with disabilities, particularly the right to an equal education, must be vigorously protected by the courts." Casey said he would continue to review Gorsuch's record and follow his answers to questions during his hearing before the Judiciary Committee in March, as well as his written responses to questions.

Sen. Whitehouse Statement on Meeting with Gorsuch
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 02/15/17
“I was glad Judge Gorsuch and I could meet today. I have heard a number of concerns from Rhode Islanders about his nomination and we covered a great deal of ground. In recent years, the Supreme Court has delivered one 5-4 decision after another, benefiting the Republican Party’s political operation in three big ways: helping them win elections by rolling back campaign finance and voter protections; helping the Party’s corporate backers by punishing unions and workers; and delivering far-right social policy that Congress would not pass. These conservative political victories should not be confused with conservative judicial philosophy. Indeed, in some cases, these decisions have been plainly activist and in direct opposition to a typical conservative jurist’s reading of the Constitution, like the Seventh Amendment guarantee of access to a civil jury or the Fifth and Fourteenth’s guarantee of due process. Chief Justice Roberts promised to merely ‘call balls and strikes.’ Then, the conservative bloc of five Justices became a political wrecking crew. Rhode Islanders want the Senate to confirm a Justice who will faithfully serve the Court and serve the law, not serve the special interests of the Republican Party. To win my support, Judge Gorsuch will have to convince me that he will stand up to the sort of political giveaways to Republicans that have been the hallmark of the Roberts Court.”

Sen. Shaheen Statement Following Her Meeting with U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/15/17
“My meeting with Judge Gorsuch was a valuable opportunity to discuss the critical role that our judiciary has in America’s system of checks and balances,” said Shaheen. “I expressed to Judge Gorsuch my strong view that the independence of the Supreme Court is paramount and I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about his judicial philosophy. I voiced my support for women’s reproductive rights and the important precedent of the Roe v. Wade decision. I also expressed my concern about the dramatic increase of secret money in politics in the wake of the Citizens United decision. I look forward to reviewing his public testimony during the nomination process.”

Sen. Sasse Announces Nebraska Justice and Judicial Nominations Advisory Commission
(Republican - Nebraska) 02/14/17
Sen. Sasse Press Release: "Senator Sasse’s Nebraska Justice and Judicial Nominations Advisory Commission is an independent body of well-respected Nebraska leaders that will review applications, interview candidates, and make recommendations to Senator Sasse. Each Senator makes his or her recommendation to the White House. After the White House sends a nomination to the Senate, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin its confirmation process which, by longstanding precedent, requires the approval of both home-state senators."

Sen. Young: Federal Judge Applications
(Republican - Indiana) 02/14/17
"Indiana currently has four judicial vacancies: three in the District Court (Northern, Fort Wayne; Northern, South Bend; Southern, Indianapolis) and one in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Qualified individuals can apply for these positions by downloading the application form here and returning it following the instructions on the form prior to the March 13, 2017 deadline. United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Application Northern District Court Application Southern District Court Application"

Indiana Senators on judicial vacancies
(Republican - Indiana) 02/14/17
Indiana Sen. Todd Young is taking applications for several vacancies in federal federal court ... Young has spoken with Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly about the process, according to Donnelly’s office. Applicants are being sought for judicial vacancies in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne division and South Bend division; and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis division.... Applications are due by March 13. “Indiana currently has multiple vacancies that are creating a strain on our justice system,” Young said in a press release. “It’s my mission to recommend qualified, trustworthy Hoosiers to the President to fill these roles as soon as possible.” In January 2016, former President Barack Obama nominated two candidates for the Indiana judicial vacancies. Winfield Ong, nominee for the Southern District of Indiana, was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee but never received a full vote by the U.S. Senate. Myra Selby, nominee for the 7th Circuit, was not given a hearing by the Judiciary Committee because former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats withheld his support.

Sen. Durbin Meets With President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/14/17
“At this pivotal time in our history, the Supreme Court must be an independent check on the Executive branch—its Justices must be unafraid to stand up to the President in the name of the Constitution and the rule of law. With a dizzying array of legal and constitutional disputes already haunting this White House, the Senate will not simply hand President Trump the deciding vote on cases that bring his Administration before the Supreme Court. I will insist that President Trump’s nominee be held to the same 60 vote threshold as past nominees have met,” said Durbin.

Sen. Donnelly Meets with Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/14/17
Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after meeting with Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Donnelly and Gorsuch talked about Gorsuch’s experience as a judge, his judicial philosophy, and his thoughts on judicial independence. Donnelly said, “Judge Gorsuch and I had a thoughtful conversation. I had the chance to ask him questions, discuss his views on the role of the Supreme Court, and hear about his experience on the federal bench. “I take my responsibility seriously to consider judicial nominees, including to the Supreme Court. As I have said, part of my job as Senator is to meet, consider, debate, and vote on judicial nominations. I will continue to carefully review Judge Gorsuch’s record and qualifications in the coming weeks and will be following his hearing before the Judiciary Committee.”

Sen. Leahy: Ensuring Judicial Independence Will Require SENATE Independence
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/13/17
"In light of the unconstitutional actions of our new President, the Senate owes the American people a thorough and unsparing examination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. That should include at least four days of hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee where senators can ask questions of the nominee and also hear from multiple panels of outside witnesses. With the ideological litmus test that President Trump has applied in making this selection, the American people are justified to wonder whether Judge Gorsuch can truly be independent of the President who nominated him, and the moneyed interests that hand-picked him. This question can only be answered in an open and transparent process in the Senate Judiciary Committee, in contrast to the backroom and unilateral decision to deny Chief Judge Garland a hearing."

Sen. Manchin on Garland and Gorsuch Supreme Court nominations
(Democrat - West Virginia) 02/10/17
He was asked about Gorsuch. Some Democrats were clamoring to block Gorsuch the way Republicans had obstructed Obama’s pick for the court. “It truly was an embarrassment the way Mitch McConnell treated a really accomplished jurist and a decent person in Merrick Garland,” Manchin said. “But I don’t know if two wrongs make a right.”

Charles Schumer: Judge Gorsuch, We Won’t Be Fooled Again
(Democrat - New York) 02/10/17
"The bar is always high to achieve a seat on the Supreme Court, but in these unusual times — when there is unprecedented stress on our system of checks and balances — the bar is even higher for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to demonstrate independence. In order to clear it, he will have to convince 60 of my colleagues that he will not be influenced by politics, parties or the president. The judiciary is the last and most important check on an overreaching president with little respect for the rule of law. The only way to demonstrate the independence necessary is for Judge Gorsuch to answer specific questions about the judiciary and his judicial philosophy.... But over the course of an hour, he refused to answer even the most rudimentary questions.... The overarching lesson of Chief Justice Roberts can be summed up in a familiar phrase: Fool me once, shame on them; fool me twice, shame on me.... A truly independent judge would have the fortitude to condemn the president’s remarks, not just express disapproval, and to do it publicly."

Sens. Fischer, Sasse Announce Judicial Nominations Process for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
(Republican - Nebraska) 02/10/17
Nebraska’s U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse announced the application process for filling a forthcoming vacancy in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Last week, Chief Judge William Jay Riley announced he will transition from active service to senior status effective June 30, 2017. Under the U.S. Constitution, judicial nominations are made by the president “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Typically, home state senators work with the Office of White House Counsel to identify for the president’s consideration qualified candidates for vacancies on the U.S. circuit courts. Senators Fischer and Sasse invite applications from qualified Nebraskans.

Sen. Heitkamp Statement Following Bipartisan Lunch with President Trump
(Democrat - North Dakota) 02/09/17
“We also talked about the need for any infrastructure package to include improving access to high-speed internet in rural communities as I’ve long pushed for, the importance of combating the opioid crisis across the country, and the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court who I met with yesterday.”

[VIDEO] Sen Coons on President Trump’s response to Judge Gorsuch’s comments: “The larger issue here is that judicial independence is at risk”
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/09/17
"Frankly what matters here is whether or not Judge Gorsuch, who will be up for confirmation for the Supreme Court, in meetings with Senators and then ultimately publicly demonstrates judicial independence, demonstrates his understanding that an independent judiciary is one of the cornerstones of our constitutional order, and that President Trump’s recent comments personally attacking or challenging judges, who are delaying or may ultimately overturn his travel ban, deserve respect not to be attacked.... In my meeting with Judge Gorsuch, I will also ask him about judicial independence and I think, in due course, we will ask him about that during the confirmation hearing.... The larger issue is that judicial independence is at risk. ... I think President Trump is going to harm both Judge Gorsuch’s chances of confirmation and his standing as president if he continues to undermine the independence of the federal judiciary.”

Sen. Donnelly Statement on Meeting with President Trump
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/09/17
“We had a productive and wide-ranging discussion on preventing the outsourcing of American jobs, addressing the opioid abuse epidemic, and we also talked about Supreme Court nominee, Judge Gorsuch. Hoosiers hired me to do a job: to represent everybody in our state and work hard to do what’s best for Hoosier families—and this was a good opportunity to talk about a number of issues important to Hoosiers and our country.”

Senator Collins’ Statement Following Meeting with Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Republican - Maine) 02/09/17
“The consideration of a Supreme Court nominee is one of the Senate’s most important constitutional responsibilities. “My more than hour-long meeting with Judge Gorsuch this morning confirmed for me what many on both sides of the aisle and those who know him well have said throughout his distinguished career: Judge Gorsuch is an individual with great integrity and extraordinary intellect who has a deep respect for the law. “Among the wide variety of issues we discussed, I was struck by three in particular: First, Judge Gorsuch indicated that he has a high regard for the role and importance of precedent; second, he made it clear that he will be a fierce defender of our independent judiciary; and third, Judge Gorsuch assured me that no one at the White House has asked him to commit to ruling a certain way on any case. “I was certainly impressed with Judge Gorsuch, and I look forward to his public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Sen. Merkley Statement on Jeff Sessions’ Nomination as Attorney General
(Democrat - Oregon) 02/08/17
“In his years in the Senate, Jeff Sessions has been a vehement opponent of LGBTQ rights, opposing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And he has continued to advocate for voter suppression, despite the fact that our nation is founded on voter empowerment, even cheering the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act as ‘good news for the South.' Jeff Sessions’ record is not that of a man who will champion ‘liberty and justice for all,’ and that is why I oppose his nomination to this key post.”

Senator Hassan Participates in Floor Debate in Opposition to Senator Sessions’s Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/08/17
“Now more than ever it is critical to have an Attorney General who is an independent defender of our Constitution, who puts the rule of law before all else, who is committed to ensuring that all Americans have equal access to justice...I do not believe that Senator Sessions is fully committed to enacting those principles,” Senator Hassan remarked on the floor this morning....

Sen. Sherrod Brown Reads Letter from Dr. King Window in Protest Against Senator Warren's Censure
(Democrat - Ohio) 02/08/17
“It’s a sad day for democracy when the words of Coretta Scott King are not allowed on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Brown said. “If we allow open, honest debate to be silenced, we are not doing our jobs.” Brown was the first Senator to announce he would vote against Sessions, citing Sessions record on civil rights, voting rights and his oppositions to efforts to improve police-community relations. King wrote the letter read by Senators this week in opposition to Sessions’ appointment as a federal judge in 1986.

VIDEO: Heinrich Reads Coretta Scott King Letter Opposing Jeff Sessions, Points To Hypocrisy Of Republicans Silencing Elizabeth Warren
(Democrat - New Mexico) 02/08/17
“I have already announced that I will vote against the nomination of Senator Sessions, and after this episode last night, I believe that now more than ever this position will require an unwavering commitment to protect Americans' constitutional rights and to stand up against discrimination and hate. Like the thousands of New Mexicans I've heard from, I lack confidence in Senator Sessions.”

Sen. Murray on Attorney General Nominee Before Final Vote: “Senator Sessions is Not the Attorney General This Country Needs”
(Democrat - Washington) 02/08/17
Murray has received 14,000 letters and emails and over 5,000 calls from people in Washington state, opposing Sessions by a wide margin due to his record on civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, and more Murray: Oppose Sessions to “Send a message to [President Trump] who, just weeks into his term, has displayed shocking disdain for the U.S. Constitution and the separation of powers” ICYMI— Senator Elizabeth Warren silenced on the Senate floor last night by Republicans when speaking against Sessions’ nomination —LINK Murray: “The stakes are too high to make Senator Sessions our next Attorney General”

VIDEO: Udall Reads from Coretta Scott King Letter in Opposing Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - New Mexico) 02/08/17
In addition to entering King's letter into the record, Udall expressed his deep concern that Sessions will refuse to serve as a check against the reckless, backward, and exclusionary policies of the Trump administration.

Sen. Feinstein Votes ‘No’ On Jeff Sessions Attorney General Nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/08/17
Feinstein yesterday spoke against Sessions’s nomination. Full remarks are available here. [LINK] Excerpts from her remarks, as delivered, follow:

Sen. Feinstein: Republicans Shutting Down Senator Warren ‘Indefensible’
(Democrat - California) 02/08/17
“In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote a powerful letter expressing her belief that Jeff Sessions lacked the ‘requisite judgment, competence and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws’ to serve as a federal judge. “Coretta Scott King was a voice worth hearing in 1986 and her opinion certainly remains relevant and valid today. “For Republicans to shut down Senator Warren when she tried to read Coretta Scott King’s letter is indefensible. That action is even more offensive because they allowed her male colleagues to read the exact same passages without batting an eye.”