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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


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Judiciary committee's Mazie Hirono stresses importance of blue-slip process in fighting Trump nominations
(Democrat - Hawaii) 06/09/17
Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono insisted Friday that the Senate "respect" the "blue-slip" process regarding judicial nominations and hinted at its utility as a tool to fight the Trump administration. Under the Senate's blue slip procedure, a state's senators are consulted by the White House before a president nominates a judge from that state, with no attention given to party affiliation, explains a Congressional Research Service report detailing the blue slip policy. The home-state senators then have the opportunity to block a nominee from receiving a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote. "Until I got to the nomination of Judge Gorsuch and so much preparation time, I really wasn't familiar with the blue-slip process," said Hirono, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the American Constitution Society's national convention. "But it's time-honored. Blue slips enable home-state senators to ensure that the federal judges serving in their states are highly qualified." Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono insisted Friday that the Senate "respect" the "blue-slip" process regarding judicial nominations and hinted at its utility as a tool to fight the Trump administration. Under the Senate's blue slip procedure, a state's senators are consulted by the White House before a president nominates a judge from that state, with no attention given to party affiliation, explains a Congressional Research Service report detailing the blue slip policy. The home-state senators then have the opportunity to block a nominee from receiving a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote. "Until I got to the nomination of Judge Gorsuch and so much preparation time, I really wasn't familiar with the blue-slip process," said Hirono, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the American Constitution Society's national convention. "But it's time-honored. Blue slips enable home-state senators to ensure that the federal judges serving in their states are highly qualified."

Sen. McConnell on Judicial Nominations
(Republican - Kentucky) 06/09/17
“The courts — of all the things that we should be able to accomplish with this president and this Senate — the courts have the longest reach into the future,” McConnell said. “We have a significant number of vacancies coming into this administration. The president knows this is a way to have an impact on our country far beyond his tenure in office.” McConnell recognized the nomination process would be a “tough battle” amid what he called “blind obstruction” by the minority party. “The left is on war-footing for just about everything these days and that includes the lower courts,” he said. “They are doing everything they can to tie the Senate in knots. They are forcing procedural hurdles on just about everything.” Trump on Wednesday sent up a slate of federal court nominations and McConnell said they would give each one a “fair hearing and vote.” ... He recalled a conversation he had with Gorsuch following his confirmation, during which the new Supreme Court associate justice said he hoped to serve for 20 to 25 years. “What we had in mind was a lot longer tenure than 20 or 25 years,” McConnell told Gorsuch and said to “think Strom Thurmond” who left the Senate at the age of 100. Thurmond was in fragile health the last several years of his tenure.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley, Prepared Statement, Executive Business Meeting
(Republican - Iowa) 06/08/17
"Several nominees are on the agenda for the first time today, and I understand the other side would like to hold them over. They include two district court nominees: - David Nye for Idaho - Scott Palk for the Western District of Oklahoma These nominees were nominated by President Obama last year and we held a hearing for them then. When they were re-nominated by President Trump this year, I gave Members who were not on the Committee last Congress an opportunity to ask them written questions if they wanted to, just like I did in the past for President Obama’s nominees. I look forward to voting their nominations out of Committee next week."

Sen. Toomey Applauds Nomination of Stephanos Bibas to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
(Republican - Pennsylvania) 06/08/17
"I am pleased that President Trump has nominated Stephanos Bibas to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. "Professor Bibas clearly has the intellect and the legal experience to be an excellent judge. In addition to serving as a Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and as the Director of the University's Supreme Court clinic, Professor Bibas clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and argued six cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. Most importantly, Professor Bibas understands that the proper role of a judge is to apply the law as written and to treat everyone who comes before him equally, not to impose his policy preferences from the bench or choose winners or losers. "I believe that Professor Bibas will make an outstanding addition to the Third Circuit, and I hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee will move Professor Bibas' nomination forward promptly so he can soon be confirmed by the full Senate."

SEN. HOEVEN STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF JUDGE RALPH ERICKSON TO SERVE ON THE 8TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS
(Republican - North Dakota) 06/07/17
“Judge Erickson has served the people of North Dakota and the United States well on the U.S District Court and I support his nomination to serve on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Hoeven. “Judge Erickson has tremendous experience having served for 23 years in various judicial positions from his start as a Magistrate judge to his current position on the U.S. District Court. Throughout his career, he has upheld the rule of law and shown deep respect for the Constitution. We look forward to moving his nomination through the Senate.”

Sen. McConnell Statement on Claria Horn Boom
(Republican - Kentucky) 06/07/17
“President Trump announced another group of outstanding judicial nominations today, including his intent to nominate Claria Horn Boom, of Lexington, to serve as a district judge on the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky. Claria’s experience as an assistant United States Attorney in Kentucky will make her an excellent addition to the federal bench. Her strong ties throughout the Commonwealth will serve her well in this new role. I commend the President on his selection and I look forward to the Senate confirming her.”

Sen. Heitkamp Statement on Nomination of Ralph Erickson to Serve as Judge on 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - North Dakota) 06/07/17
“Judge Erickson has proven through his decades of experience, record of impartiality, and devotion to his work that he is a judicious and thoughtful lawyer who continues to follow the rule of law,” said Heitkamp. “I have known Judge Erickson for many years and he has a reputation for fairness and independence, and is highly respected by members of the North Dakota bar – and I look forward to supporting his nomination in the U.S. Senate.”

Sen. Feinstein on John K. Bush Sixth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - California) 06/07/17
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, told HuffPost that Bush will get his hearing next week and that his writings raise “serious questions.” “I share concerns about the hostility to a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions that Mr. Bush exhibited in his personal writings,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Some of Mr. Bush’s writings raise serious questions about whether he has the temperament and ability to be an independent judge and follow the law. We will be examining these and other writings before his hearing next week.”

Sen. Bennet on Eid 10th Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Colorado) 06/07/17
In a statement released Wednesday, Bennet said he was displeased Trump had not reached out prior to the nomination. “It’s unfortunate that this White House failed to follow the traditional practice of working with the home state senators to fill this seat with the input of the Colorado legal community,” Bennet said in a statement. “Nonetheless, Justice Eid deserves full consideration by the United States Senate. I look forward to reviewing her record and writings in the weeks ahead.” Asked whether Bennet would try to block Eid, Bennet spokeswoman Samantha Slater said, “It’s premature to comment on that, and we’re going to wait until all the materials are submitted.”

Sen. Gardner Statement on Nomination of Allison Eid to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
(Republican - Colorado) 06/07/17
“Justice Allison Eid is an excellent choice to serve on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. I have known Allison since my days as a student at the University of Colorado Law School and have been extremely impressed with her service on Colorado’s Supreme Court. Whether she was clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas, teaching at CU Law, arguing cases as Colorado’s Solicitor General, or writing opinions as a member of the state’s Supreme Court, she has always been an ardent defender of the Constitution and committed to upholding the rule of law. I look forward to supporting Allison throughout her confirmation process.”

Senator Mike Lee On “Blue Slips”
(Republican - Utah) 06/06/17
"There is nothing in the Senate rules, nothing certainly in the Constitution that requires it. There is some history and tradition behind it. My understanding is that the historical treatment that it’s received has been somewhat different with Circuit Courts than with district courts. So that’s one question we’ve got to look at. The other question that has to be examined is the extent to which it is being, or will be abused during this administration by people across the other side of the aisle. One of the more compelling arguments that I’ve heard by those who are opposed to the blue slips at this point is to say in the post-nuclear Senate, meaning after the Democrats went nuclear in November, 2013, it is no longer the case that 41 Senators can hold up a nominee. If 41 Senators can’t hold up a nominee, why would you allow one to not? That is a question that is being looked at closely within the Committee.... this is ultimately a matter that contemplates a judgment call on the part of the committee chairman. And I’ve got full confidence in Chairman Grassley to look carefully at this and to decide whether or when to do a hearing on it specifically, and what decisions, if any, need to be made."

Grassley Refuses To Support His Own Past Statement On Blue Slips
(Republican - Iowa) 06/06/17
Progress Iowa YouTube video: At a town hall meeting in Guthrie Center, Senator Grassley refused to agree with his past statement about the need to continue the blue-slip process allowing home state senators to approve judicial nominees -- even when presented with a column he wrote in 2015 publicly supporting the blue-slip process. If the Judiciary Committee (where Grassley serves as Chair) ends the use of the blue-slip, the President will have significantly less oversight on his judicial appointments.

Portman, Brown Announce Members of Bipartisan Commission to Recommend Candidates for Judicial Vacancies in Ohio's Southern and Northern Districts
(Republican - Ohio) 06/05/17
Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced the members of the bipartisan judiciary advisory commission that will assist them in identifying the best candidates to fill vacancies on the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio. ... The bipartisan advisory commission process was first established by Sen. Brown and former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), and Sens. Portman and Brown have carried on the tradition.... The President of the United States nominates U.S. district court judges based on recommendations from U.S. senators.

Brown, Portman Announce Members of Bipartisan Commission to Recommend Candidates for Judicial Vacancies in Ohio’s Southern and Northern Districts
(Democrat - Ohio) 06/05/17
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today announced the members of the bipartisan judiciary advisory commission that will assist them in identifying the best candidates to fill vacancies on the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio. ... The bipartisan advisory commission process was first established by Sen. Brown and former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), and Sens. Portman and Brown have carried on the tradition.... The President of the United States nominates U.S. district court judges based on recommendations from U.S. senators.

Sens. Durbin, Duckworth Announce Screening Committees For Judicial, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal Nominations
(Democrat - Illinois) 05/30/17
“These screening committees combine deep legal and judicial experience from across our state. These distinguished Illinoisans will help advise Senator Duckworth and me as we evaluate candidates for some of the most important jobs in Illinois,” said Durbin. “I thank the members of the screening committees for their willingness to serve.” “I take my constitutional responsibility to advise and consent seriously. The knowledge, insight and expertise of each of the screening committee members will be invaluable as Senator Durbin and I consider nominees to fill critical positions in the judicial system," said Duckworth. "I thank the members for their commitment to serving the people of Illinois.” The Senators’ screening committees will review candidates identified by the Trump Administration and the Illinois Republican Congressional delegation for vacant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal, and federal judgeship positions. Once the President submits a nomination to the U.S. Senate, the nominee will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Durbin is a member, and will receive a vote in the committee. The approval of both home state Senators is required for the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up and consider any U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshal, and federal district or circuit court nominee.

Delaware U.S. Senators on filling two district court vacancies
(Democrat - Delaware) 05/30/17
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, who is the state's senior senator; and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, who sits on the powerful Judiciary Committee, have tried to gain leverage in the process to fill out the court. Carper has put out multiple calls for interested Republicans to apply for the post, while Coons has talked about establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to vet potential nominees.

Sen. Leahy Congressional Record Statement on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/25/17
[S3172-33] "During my nearly 20 years as either chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, I encouraged Republicans and Democrats to work with President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama to find qualified, consensus nominees, and I protected the rights of Senators in both parties. As Ranking Member Feinstein noted in a memo that was circulated yesterday, no judicial nomination made by the last three Presidents was confirmed without the support of both home State Senators. I cannot recall a nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home State Senator. The blue slip is not a partisan issue; it is about constitutional checks and balances and the Senate's role in protecting the independence of our Federal judiciary. I encourage President Trump to follow the example of his predecessors from both parties and work with us to find consensus nominees to ensure that our Federal courts remain the envy of the rest of the world."

[Sen. Nelson] Rubio, Nelson Introduce Bill Authorizing Additional Florida Judgeships
(Democrat - Florida) 05/25/17
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years.... “Florida’s federal courts are some of the busiest in the country,” said Nelson. “This bill will help provide Floridians with better access to our legal system.”

Sen. Whitehouse [on home-state Senator blue slip requirement for judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 05/25/17
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general who is [a member] of the Judiciary Committee, said he doubts that Grassley “would want to dismantle that long-standing Senate prerogative just to cater to the extremist impulses of this particular administration.” Given that appellate court seats are historically connected to individual states, “they should continue to be able to make recommendations,” Whitehouse said. “I think that would be a really dumb mistake to make just to appease the far right because it would have lasting consequences that would diminish the Senate both for Republican and Democrat senators.”

Sen. Schumer [on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees]
(Democrat - New York) 05/25/17
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted Republicans for departing from tradition, saying in a statement that “The Constitution requires the advice and consent of the Senate, not right wing interest groups, on the president’s judicial nominees.”

Sens. Rubio, Nelson Introduce Bill Authorizing Additional Florida Judgeships
(Republican - Florida) 05/25/17
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years. “The overwhelming caseload facing our judges is an undue burden for both our judicial system and the people of Florida,” said Rubio. “By following the recommendations of the Judicial Conference in authorizing these judgeships, we can help ensure a more efficient judicial system. I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Nelson and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to authorize these important judgeships for Florida as it will have short and long term benefits for our judges and residents.”

Sen. Franken on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Minnesota) 05/25/17
“It’s customary that the blue-slip process applies equally to both district and circuit court nominees — and Republicans certainly operated that way during the Obama administration,” Franken said, adding, “The committee should continue this custom and not change it simply because there’s a new president in the White House.”

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement [opposing Thapar Circuit Court nomination]
(Democrat - Illinois) 05/25/17
"Given Judge Thapar's evasiveness on questions about his views, I am left to judge him on his record, such as his troubling decision in the Winter case, and the fact that the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation handpicked him for their judicial wish list. I need more reassurance than that to support a nominee for a lifetime appointment on the Federal court of appeals. I will oppose his nomination."

Sen. Feinstein: Setting the record straight on judicial nominees and blue slip
(Democrat - California) 05/24/17
"Some Senate Republicans have recently suggested that the so-called “blue slip” for judicial nominees is less important for circuit court nominations than district court nominations. (The blue slip is a process where both senators must sign off on judicial nominations in their own state.) In fact, no Obama administration district or circuit court nominee received a Judiciary Committee hearing unless both home-state senators approved of the nominee by returning their blue slips. The Senate is set to vote on the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to fill a nearly 1,400-day vacancy on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Thapar’s nomination by President Trump was only possible because the blue slip was always honored for circuit court nominees during the Obama administration. President Obama last year nominated Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes to this Sixth Circuit vacancy. She received a unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association. However, Judge Tabor Hughes never received a hearing in the Judiciary Committee because both Kentucky senators did not return their blue slips.... Senate Democrats did not abandon the blue slip during the Obama administration even though the Senate Judiciary Committee was controlled by Democrats for six of the eight years. For example, Judiciary Committee Democrats did not advance Obama nominees in any of the following situations: Only one home-state senator returned the blue slip. Senators initially returned blue slips but later rescinded them. Judicial vacancies were left open for years. Senators recommended a nominee to the White House for a district court vacancy, but refused to return a blue slip for that same nominee when nominated to a circuit court vacancy. The blue slip serves an important purpose by incentivizing meaningful consultation and cooperation between the White House and Senate on judicial nominees. Eliminating the blue slip is essentially a move to end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees, allowing nominees to be hand-picked by right-wing groups. During the administrations of President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, no circuit court or district court nominees were confirmed without blue slips from both home-state senators. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote in a 2014 op-ed, “I continued this blue slip tradition. Not a single district court nominee received a committee hearing, and not one appeals court nominee was confirmed without the support of their home-state senators…”"

Sen. McConnell: Senate Set to Advance Nomination of Judge Thapar [Floor Statement citing ABA ratings President Trump is refusing to consider]
(Republican - Kentucky) 05/24/17
“The American Bar Association has given him its highest rating, unanimously well-qualified, and I couldn’t agree more with that characterization."

Sen. Warren Floor Statement [opposing Thapar Sixth Circuit nomination]
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 05/24/17
[S3128-29] "I rise to oppose the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to serve as a judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.... His nomination comes on the heels of the nomination of now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, an ultraconservative who could not earn enough support to be confirmed under Senate's normal rules, a judge so radical, so controversial that Senate Republicans had to change the Senate rules and lower the vote threshold to force his nomination through the Senate. Now the Senate is poised to vote on a judge cut from the same cloth. Like Justice Gorsuch, Judge Thapar made the list of 21 acceptable judges that far-right groups drew up and handed to President Trump-- judges who would tilt the scales of justice in favor of the rich and the powerful.... For years, billionaire-funded, rightwing groups have worked hand in hand with Republicans to ensure that our courts advance the interests of the wealthy and powerful over the rights of everyone else. They abused the filibuster to stop fair, mainstream judges from filling vacancies on Federal courts, they slowed the judicial nominations process to a crawl, and they threw the Constitution and Senate precedent out the window by refusing to consider President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. ...There are many reasons to oppose Judge Thapar's nomination to the Sixth Circuit, from his decisions making it harder for working Americans to get access to the judicial system to his support for sentencing policies that don't make us safer but that exacerbate the problem of mass incarceration. There is a lot to object to, but I want to highlight one area that should concern every person who thinks government should work for all of us; that is, Judge Thapar's stance on money in politics.... In his decision, Judge Thapar said: ``There is simply no difference between `saying' that one supports an organization by using words and `saying' that one supports an organization by donating money.'' ... As the Sixth Circuit reminded Judge Thapar when it reversed his decision on donations, even the Supreme Court has refused to treat monetary donations as equivalent to direct speech."

Sen. Franken on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees
(Democrat - Minnesota) 05/20/17
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) ... claims the process applies equally to both district and circuit court nominees “and Republicans certainly operated that way during the Obama administration.” “In my view, the blue slip plays an important role in ensuring that the Senate is able to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide ‘advice and consent,’” he said. “The Committee should continue this custom and not change it simply because there’s a new president in the White House.”

Sen. Cornyn forgets Obama's Nourse, Selby & Haywood Circuit nominations blocked by single Senator blue slips
(Republican - Texas) 05/20/17
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate ... “I think there’s a difference between the blue-slip application at the district court level where the court is contained wholly within a state as opposed to a circuit court, which covers multiple states,” he said. “The idea that an individual senator could veto in effect a nominee at the circuit court level is really unprecedented and I think needs to be carefully looked at.”

Sen. Hatch [on blue slip home-state Senator requirement for judicial nominees]
(Republican - Utah) 05/20/17
“Frankly it’s served a very good purpose up to now,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said. “I’ll have to listen to the debate and see what I’ll decide, but it has played a very noble, important role over the years.”