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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


Senator's Party
Senator's State
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(Democrat - Montana) 02/08/17
"I will not back a nominee who supports the most intrusive aspects of the PATRIOT Act and refuses to support survivors of domestic violence," Tester said. "Mr. Sessions has proven that he will not protect our individual freedoms and he won't stand up for those who can't speak for themselves. I am proud to stand with thousands of Montanans who value their right to privacy and protections for women and children."

On Senate Floor, Gillibrand Urges Colleagues To Oppose Sessions Nomination For Attorney General
(Democrat - New York) 02/08/17
Gillibrand: We need an Attorney General who will fight every day for equal justice and equal protection under our laws; Senator Sessions has no record of doing that.

Sen. Heitkamp Meets with U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - North Dakota) 02/08/17
“One of the most important roles of a U.S. senator is to vet nominees to fill vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court through meetings and Senate hearings, and I take that job very seriously,” said Heitkamp. “Unfortunately, Senate Republicans broke tradition and historical precedent in refusing to give Judge Merrick Garland the full and fair consideration he deserved when he was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, forcing his nomination to languish for almost 300 days – by far the longest that a Supreme Court nomination has been held open. Unlike my colleagues, I believe my duty of advice and consent in these matters remains the same regardless of which party is in the White House – it is our job as U.S. Senators to perform this function and not play politics. That’s why I met with Judge Gorsuch today, and I appreciate him taking the time to come by my office. We had a thorough conversation about the importance of the rule of law and of a judiciary that is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government. We also talked about Indian law and treaties, fixing our criminal justice system, and empathy on the bench—a fundamental trait when the poor and underprivileged in North Dakota and beyond don’t have the same access to the courts as those who are better off.”

Sen. Bennet Votes to Oppose Jeff Sessions Nomination
(Democrat - Colorado) 02/08/17
"The President is entitled to choose his team," Bennet continued. "But, the Attorney General, more than any other cabinet official, must be the people's lawyer, an advocate for the rule of law above all else." "It's clear from the nearly 23,000 calls and emails my office has received that Senator Sessions has not earned the confidence of many Coloradans who may soon rely on him to protect their rights and identify abuses of Constitutional power."

Sen. McCaskill Meets Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - Missouri) 02/08/17
Senator Claire McCaskill, a former Jackson County Prosecutor, today met with Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee—and released the following statement: “I was glad for the opportunity to sit down with Judge Gorsuch and hear more about his record and his views, and I’m looking forward to seeing his confirmation hearing."

Sen. Duckworth Votes Against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/08/17
“America needs a forceful advocate for fairness in its next Attorney General—someone who will fight for justice for all people—not a rubberstamp for the President. Unfortunately, Senator Sessions’ record and refusal to recuse himself from voting on other Trump nominees proves he will not be that person. Senator Sessions voted against extending hate crime protections to Americans who are targeted because of their gender, disability or sexual orientation. He argued for religious discrimination against Muslims. He wanted to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and criticized legal protections for people with disabilities as ‘irritating’ and ‘unnecessary.’ I am disappointed that Senator Sessions will now be in a position to erode the civil rights countless Americans bled to protect. I worry about what his Department of Justice will mean for our neighbors with disabilities, Americans of all sexual orientations, people of color and others who have historically been denied equal protection under our nation’s laws when public officials entrusted to enforce those protections turned a blind eye.”

Sen. Mark Warner on Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
(Democrat - Virginia) 02/08/17
Senator Warner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in opposition to the nomination. Video of that speech is available here. [LINK] Audio is available here. [LINK] “The Attorney General is charged with impartially and independently enforcing our nation’s laws and protecting the civil rights of all Americans. These are solemn responsibilities, and though I opposed this nomination, I will hold Senator Sessions accountable for executing them faithfully as Attorney General.”

Sen. Warren: Letter from Coretta Scott King About Jeff Sessions
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 02/08/17
On February 7, 2017, Senator Warren attempted to read the text of a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King about the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship. The text of the letter is available below, or to download as a PDF here.

(Democrat - Rhode Island) 02/08/17
“I voted ‘no’ today because of Rhode Islanders’ serious concerns about Senator Sessions’s record on immigration, civil rights, protections for women, religious tolerance, and offense to broad groups of Americans. But, most of all, I voted ‘no’ because I do not have adequate confidence that he will fight for the Department’s mission when necessary with this President.”

Senator Markey Reads Coretta Scott King Letter During Senate Debate on Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 02/08/17
“Senator Warren deserves an apology for being silenced when she attempted to share this very relevant, very powerful part of our national history last night,” said Senator Markey in his remarks. “And the American people deserve to hear the important words of Coretta Scott King.” “Coretta Scott King was right in the 1960s. Coretta Scott King was right in 1986. Coretta Scott King is right today. “Based on the totality of Senator Sessions’ record, I have no confidence that he shares a commitment to justice for all Americans,” concluded Senator Markey. “I do not believe he will fight to defend the most vulnerable in our society. I do not believe he will stand up to President Trump when the time comes, as it surely will.”

Sen. Heitkamp to Oppose Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - North Dakota) 02/07/17
“I respect Jeff Sessions as a colleague and for his distinguished service in the Senate. But the job of U.S. Attorney General, serving as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, is about how a person will handle this massive responsibility,” said Heitkamp. “I have serious concerns about Senator Sessions’ opposition to landmark legislation in 2013 that protects victims of domestic violence, including protections I advocated for Native American women. He has pushed back against voting rights throughout his career. He has supported some of the most controversial provisions of the Patriot Act that create serious privacy issues for American citizens – and in some cases he did not even believe the law went far enough. Finally, as Attorney General, Senator Sessions will serve as the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer. But I’m worried he will not be an independent voice from the president as the job requires, and will instead defend all pieces of the president’s agenda without question – whether constitutional or not.”

On Senate Floor, Shaheen Cites Deep Concerns with Sessions’ Record, Says “Senate Should Not Confirm Him”
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/07/17
“We need an Attorney General who will not only insist on equal enforcement of the laws, but who has a passion for pursuing justice and fairness for all Americans, as well as for those who want to visit or immigrate to our country. In my view, Senator Sessions has failed to demonstrate that commitment. Indeed, I fear that, as Attorney General, he would affirm and encourage President Trump’s most troubling tendencies, especially with regard to minorities, women, and immigrants. Senator Sessions is the wrong person for the critically important post of United States Attorney General. I will vote against his confirmation.”

Sen. Leahy, On Senate Floor: Senator Sessions Lacks Independence To Be Attorney General
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/07/17
“There is simply nothing in Senator Sessions’ testimony before the Judiciary Committee that gives me confidence that he would be willing to stand up to the president.”

Sen. Stabenow on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 02/07/17
“I have deep concerns about Judge Gorsuch and the impact his rulings would have on Michigan families,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Although Republicans for over a year refused to do their job and blocked the previous Supreme Court nominee, I take my responsibilities as a senator seriously and plan to meet with him and thoroughly review his record.”

Sen. Menendez: I Will Vote Against Sen. Sessions for AG
(Democrat - New Jersey) 02/07/17
“We need an Attorney General who will be an unconditional champion of the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am not convinced that Senator Sessions is willing to defend the Constitution in a fair and just manner to advance equality for every community or exercise balanced judgment on immigration law. This imbalance in Senator Sessions’ record is something that I was not able to overlook, and having heard from thousands of concerned constituents, I cast my vote against his nomination today."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy, On the Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions To Be The Attorney General Of The United States
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/07/17
"Senator Sessions did not demonstrate to the Judiciary Committee that he would be willing to tell the president “no” on any issue, no matter how objectionable."

(Democrat - Montana) 02/06/17
"Every Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair shake, and the same goes for Judge Gorsuch. We had a productive meeting, and I will continue to review his qualifications and get feedback from Montanans about his nomination to our nation's top court. As I continue to review his body of work, I will be looking to ensure he understands Montana and our challenges, as well as the Constitution and that he is committed to protecting our freedoms." Following the meeting, Tester expressed concerns about Gorsuch's record on women's access to health care. In the meeting, Tester also questioned Gorsuch on a series of topics that are likely to come before the court, including corporate influence in campaigns, civil liberties, and protecting Montana's clean air and water.

Sen. Sanders: Gorsuch needs 60 votes to pass the Senate
(Independent - Vermont) 02/05/17
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday said that President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, should not win confirmation unless he can muster 60 votes. “This is a major, major nomination. It should require 60 votes and a very serious debate,” Sanders said ... “Obama’s nominations required 60 votes. So should Trump’s,” Sanders added. “What this Supreme Court decision is about is whether or not we continue Citizens United and allow billionaires to buy elections. It’s whether or not we continue Roe v. Wade and allow a woman to control her own body,” he argued.... Jake Tapper asked Sanders whether he would support Democratic colleague Jeff Merkley (Ore.), who wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Gorsuch needs 60 votes. “Absolutely,” Sanders replied. Schumer has also called for a 60-vote threshold for Gorsuch. “On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support should be a prerequisite, it should be essential,” he said.

Sen. Leahy Comment On Partisan Attacks On The Federal Judiciary
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/04/17
“We need an Attorney General, like Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, willing to lose his or her job to do the right thing. And we need a nominee for the Supreme Court willing to demonstrate he or she will not cower to an overreaching executive. This makes it even more important that Judge Gorsuch, and every other judge this president may nominate, demonstrates the ability to be an independent check and balance on an administration that shamefully and harmfully seems to reject the very concept.”

Sen. Nelson unsure about Gorsuch for high court
(Democrat - Florida) 02/02/17
After a bland, non-committal statement Tuesday night minutes after President Donald Trump unveiled Gorsuch, Nelson turned more negative on the Colorado judge Thursday. “Of course, I’m going to talk to him and listen to the Judiciary Committee hearing,” Nelson said in the more recent statement issued by his office. “But I have real concerns about what I believe are two of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: the right to vote and the right to know who you are voting for,” he continued. “And I specifically want to know how the judge feels about the suppression of voting rights and about the amount of undisclosed, unlimited money in campaigns.”

Sen. Tom Udall to Vote Against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - New Mexico) 02/02/17
"The Attorney General has a solemn responsibility to defend the constitutional rights of Americans of all genders, sexual orientations, races, religions, and backgrounds. That means working to solve the very real concerns and grievances about law enforcement felt by many people in Albuquerque and across the country. It also means standing up for the rights of immigrant families. And it means curtailing invasive, unconstitutional invasions of privacy and illegal spying programs against law-abiding American citizens. On each of these issues, I find Senator Sessions' record and positions to be misguided. ..."

Sen. Donnelly to Oppose Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/02/17
“I have great respect for local law enforcement, as well as the role that the Department of Justice plays in enforcing federal law. I have always believed that the men and women who go to work every day in order to protect our communities deserve the support and resources they need to keep our communities safe. I also recognize that the Justice Department plays a critical role in protecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and under our laws, and it is important that all Americans have faith in the Department’s ability to uphold our nation’s commitment to equal justice under law. I am concerned that the wide range of opposition to Senator Sessions’ nomination from civil rights advocates, including many Hoosiers, will impede Senator Sessions’ ability to work effectively with many communities across the country to carry out the important mission of the Justice Department. I am also concerned Senator Sessions will support recent actions taken by the administration on refugees and visa holders. For these reasons, I am unable to support his nomination to be the Attorney General. “Though I will be not be voting for Senator Sessions, I will continue to work hard for the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day. More specifically, I will continue to support the many important programs run out of the Justice Department that provide grants and other resources to our law enforcement officers, such as, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership grant program, which helped purchase 143,621 lifesaving vests for officers in 2016 and the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, which makes funding available to states, cities, and counties to support critical task forces, crime prevention programs, and many other law enforcement activities.”

Sen. Baldwin will vote no on Trump pick Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 02/02/17
Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said Thursday she would oppose President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Baldwin asserted that Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Colorado, did not have a “mainstream record,” and she cited judicial rulings of his on cases involving disabled students, workers and women’s reproductive health. “It’s a record that is going to make it hard for Trump and (Gorsuch) to earn bipartisan support,” said Baldwin. “I think the American people deserve an independent Supreme Court Justice who is going to protect constitutional rights,” she said. Baldwin also said she would not be one of the 60 votes Gorsuch would need to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

Sen. Schumer Floor Statement: NOMINATION OF NEIL GORSUCH [& 60 vote threshold]
(Democrat - New York) 02/02/17
"We in the Senate have a constitutional duty to examine the record of Judge Gorsuch robustly, exhaustively, and comprehensively, and then advise and consent, as we see fit. We have a responsibility to reject if we do not. We Democrats will insist on a rigorous but fair process. Part of that process entails 60 votes for confirmation. Any one Democrat can require it. Many already have. It was a bar met by each of Obama's nominations; each received 60 votes. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do. And I would note that a 60-vote threshold was reached by each of them either in cloture or in the actual vote. On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support is essential and should be a prerequisite. That is what a 60- vote threshold does; 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate. And the need for a mainstream consensus candidate is greater now than ever before because we are in major new territory in two ways. First, because the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roberts, has shown increasing drift to become a more and more pro-business Court-- siding more and more with corporations, employers, and special interests over working and average Americans--we need a mainstream nominee to help reverse that trend, not accelerate it.... Second, given that this administration--at least at its outset--seems to have less respect for the rule of law than any in recent memory and is testing the very fabric of our Constitution within the first 20 days, there is a special burden on this nominee to be an independent jurist, someone who approaches the Court without ideological blinders, who has a history of operating outside and above politics, and who has the strength of will to stand up to a President who has already shown a willingness to bend the Constitution.... Changing the rules for something as important as the Supreme Court gets rid of the tradition, eliminates the tradition of mainstream nominees who have bipartisan support. It would be so, so wrong to do. I know many of my colleagues on the other side are hesitant to do it, and I hope they will remain strong in that regard."

Sen. Carper Floor Statement on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination & 60 vote margin
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/02/17
"I think the way Merrick Garland was treated was outrageous, and he was roundly praised by Democrats and Republican, Members of this body, alike. The fact that he never got a vote I think is appalling. It runs against everything I was taught to believe. ... Two wrongs don't make a right. Folks on our side believe--although deeply troubled by the way the last nominee for the last administration was treated--this nominee deserves a hearing. My hope is that he gets one and there is time set aside to prepare for that hearing. My hope is that he will take the time to come and meet with us, particularly those of us who have concerns about his nomination. I think he should be subject to the same 60-vote margin the last several Supreme Court nominees were subjected to and passed; I think in one case it was 62 votes, and in another case, 63 votes."

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement: Nomination of Neil Gorsuch [and 60 vote margin]
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/02/17
[S627] "Even though my Republican colleagues chose to ignore their responsibilities when it came to filling that Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, I know we have a constitutional responsibility to give Judge Gorsuch a hearing and a vote.... He was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006, but the level of scrutiny is far higher for Supreme Court nominees and lifetime appointments to the High Court. He now has a lengthy judicial record which we will review carefully. There are parts of his record that already raise questions and concerns. In recent years, we have watched the Supreme Court transform into a corporate Court, where all too often cases seem to break for the big corporations, regularly against the little guy. We need a Supreme Court that gives the American people a fair shot against corporate elites, corporate special interests. Judge Gorsuch's record as a judge and advocate raises concerns as to whether he would hasten that trend toward a corporate court.... Judge Gorsuch appears to have a consistent pattern of favoring companies over workers in cases involving employment discrimination, worker safety, and other matters. ... Is he going to bend toward the corporate interests and look the other way as we face climate change, the pollution of streams, the contamination of our drinking water, and dangers to our public health? ... Since the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, Supreme Court Justices have had to show they can pass the threshold of 60 votes to get confirmed. I expect nothing less from this nominee."

Sen. Tester Statement on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Montana) 02/01/17
"In the coming weeks, I will be thoroughly reviewing the qualifications of President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch. It's critically important that he has an understanding of the Constitution and is willing to defend it. I look forward to sitting down with Judge Gorsuch, looking him in the eye, asking him tough questions, and finding out if he shares our Montana values."

Sen. Coons on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination and potential filibuster
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/01/17
Coons told reporters Wednesday morning that he is only in favor of calling for a vote on Gorsuch in the Senate Judiciary Committee and would not commit to supporting a floor vote at this early stage. “I think we’ll get to that,” he said, when asked whether he supports holding a vote on ending an expected Democratic filibuster. “He should get a hearing and vote [in] committee.” Coons said it was “a misunderstanding” to characterize his position as supporting an up-or-down, simple-majority vote on the Senate floor. He said that Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has announced Democrats will require a 60-vote threshold for Gorsuch, something he did not disagree with. “It is a 60-vote threshold vote, that is what it is,” he said. ... “There’s been a lot of back and forth about what a filibuster means for a Supreme Court nomination. Here’s my understanding. It doesn’t mean that we go to the floor and get out the cots and stay there and talk for 26 hours. It is simply a question of whether there is or isn’t a 60-vote threshold,” he said.

Sen. Heinrich on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - New Mexico) 02/01/17
“After ignoring Judge Garland’s nomination for purely partisan reasons, Senate Republicans are already talking about changing the Senate rules to confirm Trump's nominee if Democrats don’t simply defer. “Given the current climate in Washington, any nominee to the nation’s highest court must have an unshaken commitment to the rule of law, separation of powers, and the rights enshrined in the Constitution. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, and Judge Gorsuch must be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny. "New Mexicans have made it clear to me that now more than ever they want an independent judiciary committed to defending the Constitution and the rule of law. I agree and any nomination to the highest court in the land should require more than a simple majority vote to ensure as much."