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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/20/15
"Judge Hanks is just the second judicial nominee that we have voted to confirm more than 3 months into the 114th Congress. The slow trickle of confirmations that the new majority has allowed is undermining the functioning of our Federal courts and is hurting the American people. This past month, the Wall Street Journal wrote an alarming article about the backlog of civil cases in our Federal courts. ... First, the Senate should confirm every single one of the nine judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar without further delay. Besides Judge Hanks , there are two other Federal district court nominees pending on the Executive Calendar, both from States with two Republican home State Senators. Both of those nominees were reported out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously by voice vote. One of the nominees will fill a judicial emergency vacancy in Texas that has remained unfilled for more than 2 years. This type of neglect is unacceptable. In addition, there are five other nominees to the Court of Federal Claims and a nominee for the Court of International Trade. None of these nominees are controversial and they could easily be confirmed by a simple voice vote if Republicans would allow. After today's confirmation vote, there will be 53 vacancies on our Federal courts. But even if we filled every one of these vacancies, we still would have to address the growing needs of our co-equal branch of government that is struggling with heavy caseloads. Last month, the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, identified the need for adding 73 permanent judgeships, as well as converting 9 temporary district court judgeships to permanent status. The Senate should be working in a bipartisan manner to provide the Federal Judiciary with the resources it needs, including the addition of woefully-needed additional judgeships."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/16/15
"I hope that we can return to regular order in this Committee and not hold over all nominations simply because the Committee rules allow a member to delay consideration a week. No one on the Democratic side will be asking to hold the nominations over, and I would ask the Republican members of this Committee not to delay the nomination of Ms. Yates just out of reflex. She has strong bipartisan support and her hearing was almost four weeks ago. When we have a nominee as noncontroversial as Ms. Yates, we should proceed without delay."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General of the United States
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/15/15
"Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General has languished on the Senate floor for 48 days. This unnecessary wait time is twice as long as the last seven Attorney General nominees combined. ... Every additional day that Ms. Lynch’s nomination languishes on the floor is another day Senate Republicans fail to govern responsibly. This Congress, it took more than three months for Senate Republicans to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee. And even though the Senate finally did confirm a district court nominee this week, nine more judicial nominees are waiting to be considered. This is no way to respect the dedicated public servants who have been nominated and no way to treat our coequal branches of government."

After Months of Delay, Senate Republicans Finally Allow For a Vote on First Judicial Nominee of the 114th Congress; 9 Judicial Nominees, AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Continue To Await Consideration on the Senate Floor
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/14/15
Sen. Leahy press release: “Despite promises to govern responsibly, the Republican majority has continued to obstruct when it comes to judicial vacancies,” he said in a record statement. “The fact that it has taken more than three months into the 114th Congress for the Republican majority to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee is disconcerting, especially because all four of the district court nominees that have been languishing on the Senate floor were recommended to President Obama by their two Republican home state Senators.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Executive and Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/13/15
"We should also be voting on all 10 judicial nominees who have been pending in the Senate since last year, two of whom just passed the 1-year mark since they were first nominated. Tonight, we will consider just one of those nominees. Once confirmed, Alfred Bennett will fill a ``judicial emergency'' vacancy in the Southern District of Texas that has been empty for more than 2 years. There is no good explanation why it has taken us nearly 7 months to vote on his nomination, nor is there a good reason for why we are not voting on the other two pending nominees to district court vacancies in Texas. There are still two Fifth Circuit vacancies and seven other Federal district court vacancies in Texas for which there are no nominees. Texas has two times the number of Federal court vacancies of any other State, and these vacancies account for one-third of the judicial emergency vacancies on our Nation's courts. I urge the Texas Senators to work with the President so that we can receive nominees for those vacancies as soon as possible....I urge the Republican majority to schedule votes to confirm the remaining judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar. None of the nominees are controversial. We should do our jobs and vote on their nominations so that they can start doing their jobs working for the American people."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Confirmations
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/26/15
"The refusal by the Senate Republican leadership to schedule votes on any Federal judges is completely contrary to historical precedent. This is also in stark contrast to the way Democrats treated President Bush’s judicial nominees. During the Bush administration we were able to reduce overall judicial vacancies from 110 down to 28.... we confirmed 68 district and circuit court judges in those last two years.... The refusal to schedule a vote on a single judicial nominee this year comes despite the fact that four of these nominees have languished on the Senate floor for a month and were recommended to President Obama by their two Republican home state Senators. Three of these pending nominees will fill district court vacancies in Texas, two of which have been designated by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts as “judicial emergency” vacancies. I would urge the current Assistant Republican Leader, who represents Texas, to work to schedule votes to fill those vacancies.... We started this Congress with 44 judicial vacancies, including 12 vacancies deemed judicial emergencies. Today, there are 55 vacancies, including 23 judicial emergency vacancies.... Filling the current vacancies is necessary but not sufficient. Last week the Judicial Conference of the United States, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, identified the need for adding 5 permanent judgeships to the courts of appeals, and 68 permanent judgeships to the district courts, as well as converting 9 temporary district court judgeships to permanent status."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/12/15
"The four judicial nominees listed on today’s agenda have the distinction of both of their home state Senators sitting on this Committee. Two of the Texas nominees will fill judicial emergency vacancies. I hope the Senators from Texas and Utah have been able to convince their Republican colleagues that there is no good reason for these nominees to be held over. We should vote them out today."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Hearing On Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/21/15
"I am encouraged that the first hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee under the helm of Chairman Grassley is on judicial nominations. I look forward to working with him throughout the 114th Congress to fill vacancies on our federal courts to ensure that our co-equal branch of government is working at full strength.... four judicial nominees whom we could have considered last year if their home state Republican Senators had agreed. Two of the Texas nominees— Judge Alfred Bennett and Judge Jose Rolando Olvera, Jr.—are nominated to fill judicial emergency vacancies. The third Texas nominee, Judge George C. Hanks, Jr., is nominated to fill a vacancy that has been open for more than seven months and the Utah nominee, Justice Jill N. Parrish, will fill a vacancy that has been open for more than a year. I am pleased that both Texas and both Utah Senators have now consented and these nominees are finally getting a hearing today. All four of the judicial nominees before us today have strong qualifications along with the support of their Republican home state senators."

Sen. Leahy on Pending Texas Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/16/14
On Tuesday afternoon, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said he hoped the nominees would be confirmed quickly. “Under our past practices under both Republican and Democratic leadership, you always did before the lame duck was over,” Leahy, the Vermont Democrat, said.

Senator Leahy: Judiciary Committee Sends Three Judicial Nominees To Full Senate
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/11/14
“It is imperative for the Senate to continue to work on nominations. With cooperation there is still time to confirm these non-controversial nominees before we adjourn for the year,” Leahy said. “I hope that at the very least, the Texas senators will work to get consent on their side of the aisle to confirm the three district court nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies pending on the Executive Calendar,” Leahy said. “These Texas nominees were nominated more than five months ago and reported out on unanimous voice vote. There is no objection on my side of the aisle to confirming them today.”

SEN. LEAHY FLOOR STATEMENT FOR NOMINATION OF LYDIA KAY GRIGGSBY TO BE A JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/04/14
"I thank the Majority Leader for filing cloture on her nomination. She should have been confirmed several months ago but Republicans refused to consent to a vote on her nomination for no good reason. Lydia was nominated on April 10 of this year. She had a hearing on June 4 and was reported out of committee by a unanimous voice vote on June 12. She is completely noncontroversial and exceptionally well qualified to serve on this court. It should not have taken 6 days, let alone 6 months, for the Senate to approve her nomination. Despite this unnecessary delay, I am pleased that we finally ended the filibuster and will confirm her today. Lydia has served on my Judiciary Committee staff since 2006 and currently serves as my chief counsel for Privacy and Information Policy."

Sen. Leahy: Judiciary Committee Approves Nominee To Lead Key Immigration Office, . . . Sarah Saldaña To Be Considered Next By Full Senate
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/03/14
“Three judicial nominees to fill vacancies in New York, North Carolina and Virginia were held over by Republicans at Thursday’s meeting."

UPDATED: Republican Home-State Senators Support Judicial Nominees
(Republican - Utah, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, North Carolina) 11/25/14
Links and excerpts for Republican home-state senator support of judicial nominees during Senate's lame duck session and history of prior lame duck confirmations.

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/20/14
“Today, we also have nine judicial nominations and one executive nomination on the agenda. All of the judicial nominations were held over last week and are ready to be reported to the Senate floor. At last week’s mark up, I had hoped to report at least the three nominations to fill judicial emergency vacancies in Texas. Unfortunately neither Texas Senator showed up to make the case to other Republican members to report out the Texas nominees and the Ranking Member asked that they be held over. One of these Texas vacancies has been left empty for six years. With nine current, and four known future, Texas district court vacancies, I hope the Texas Senators will secure cooperation on their side of the aisle so that rather than adding them to the list of routine filibusters they can be confirmed by consent before we adjourn.”

Sen. Leahy: Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves Leahy-Cornyn FOIA Improvement Act. . . Nine Judicial Nominees Also Approved At Thursday Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/20/14
"Eight nominees to fill vacancies on our Federal district courts and one nominee to the U.S. Court of International Trade were also reported on Thursday. Those nominees now join 20 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation by the full Senate. There are currently 61 judicial vacancies throughout the country, and Leahy urged the Senate to approve the pending nominees who could fill some of those seats before the end of the year."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement [on Belated Confirmation of Three Georgia District Judges]
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/18/14
"We have confirmed three judges from Georgia and I want to compliment the two Senators from Georgia for their hard work, both in the Judiciary Committee and the White House. And in that, I am sorry they had to wait so long. On this side of the aisle we cleared every one of those for a voice vote months ago. I am sorry that your side wanted to delay it, but I see a 100-0 vote, and the voice votes are accurate. But I compliment the two Senators from Georgia for sticking with their nominees."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on need to confirm pending judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/17/14
"[T]oday we will vote to end Republican filibusters on three district court nominations for Georgia, two of which are judicial emergency vacancies. The Senate should not need to waste our time jumping through these procedural hurdles to confirm nominees who are strongly supported by two Republican home State Senators. After we vote to invoke cloture and confirm these three nominees, we will still have 17 judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar--11 to serve on district courts and 6 to serve on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Another nine judicial nominees will be recommended by the Judiciary Committee this Thursday. By the end of the week, there will be 26 nominees reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee pending before the full Senate. All but a few of these nominees will have been reported unanimously and several are from States with at least one and sometimes two Republican home State Senators, including: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, and Texas. These nominees should all be confirmed before we recess in December. As I mentioned last week, I hope that Senate Republicans will work with Senate Democrats to ``clear the decks'' on pending business before the end of the 113th Congress, as the incoming majority leader has suggested. So let us work together as we have in past lameduck sessions to get these nominees confirmed and serving their communities. In 2002, after the midterm elections, Senate Democrats worked to confirm all 20 of President Bush's judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar all but one by voice vote. In the 2006 lameduck session, after Senate Democrats won the majority in the elections, Democrats agreed to confirm all 14 of President Bush's judicial nominations pending on the Executive Calendar, but this package was blocked by a Republican Senator. In the most recent lameduck sessions, in 2010 and 2012, a total of 32 judicial nominees were confirmed. We should do the same now."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/13/14
"In 2002, after the midterm elections, Senate Democrats worked to confirm all 20 of President Bush’s judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar – all but one by voice vote. In the 2006 lame duck session, after Senate Democrats won the majority in the elections, Democrats agreed to confirm all 14 of President Bush’s judicial nominations pending on the Executive Calendar, but this package was blocked by a Republican Senator. In the most recent lame duck sessions, in 2010 and 2012, a total of 32 judicial nominees were confirmed. With the 2014 midterm elections behind us I hope that we will, as the incoming Majority Leader suggests, “clear the decks” on pending business so that we can start fresh next year."

Sen. Leahy on Senate confirmation of nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/10/14
Leahy also called on Republicans to work with Democrats to address a backlog of more than 100 presidential nominees before the 2014 session ends. “If you’ve got somebody who is controversial, of course, have a debate and then have a vote. But 95 percent of the names that are pending there are non-controversial,” the Democrat said. “In fact, (most) probably went through the various committees with every Republican and every Democrat voting for them.””

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on unopposed Judicial Nominees awaiting Floor votes
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/07/14
"[W]e have on the calendar 18 nominees for Federal judgeships that passed unanimously. Every Republican and every Democrat in the Judiciary Committee voted for them. Many of them were recommended by Republican Senators and four of them for judicial emergencies. The oldest one has been pending since June, having gone through the committee unanimously. This is not being responsible to the American people."

Sen. Leahy; Judiciary Chairman, Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/18/14
"Today, we have 10 judicial nominations on the agenda, including nine for district courts and one for the Court of Federal Claims. Each nomination is ready to be reported to the Senate floor."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy on Committee approval of judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/18/14
Nine nominees to fill vacancies on our Federal district courts and one nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims were also reported on Thursday. Those nominees now join the seven district court and five U.S. Court of Federal Claims nominees awaiting confirmation by the full Senate. There are currently 59 judicial vacancies throughout the country, and Leahy urged the Senate to approve the pending nominees who could fill some of those seats today.

Sen. Leahy statement On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/18/14
"Senate Republicans are refusing to allow confirmation votes on the more than 20 judicial nominees who will now be stuck in limbo for months. There is no good reason why the Senate cannot confirm these nominees before the recess other than wholesale obstruction of a co-equal branch of government’s nominees. The Senate Republicans’ baseless obstruction includes blocking from consideration nominations made to their home states....we have reduced the vacancies on our Federal courts from 92 to 59, but ... The Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships ... There remain 59 vacancies on the Federal bench – far more than the 45 vacancies at this point during the Bush administration. There are an additional 25 announced future judicial vacancies ... , we must return to session as soon as possible after the elections in November to complete our important work. The American people deserve courts capable of providing access to swift justice, not empty courtrooms and delays."

Sen. Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/11/14
"Today, we have three bipartisan bills on the agenda. We also have 10 judicial nominees and one executive nominee, each who have the support of their home state senators. Given the short work period, I hope we can move forward on these bipartisan matters without delay."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/08/14
"Today we will finally vote on the confirmation of Jill Pryor of Georgia to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Her nomination has been pending in the Senate since February 2012—more than two and a half years"

Sen. Patrick Leahy statement [on judicial nominees, delays, filibusters, confirmations, need to create judgeships, Texas and other vacancies]
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/31/14
"[F]or the fifth year in a row, more than a dozen qualified, consensus judicial nominees pending before the full Senate will remain on the Executive Calendar during the August recess. ... We could be voting today to confirm 13 nominees to serve on our Federal courts, 12 of whom were reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee by unanimous voice vote. ... Since the beginning of this year, we have reduced the vacancies on our Federal courts by over a third, from 92 to 57, and reduced the number of judicial emergency vacancies by nearly half, from 37 to 19. ... In addition to the 57 current vacancies, the Judicial Conference has identified the need for 91 new judgeships in some of America's judicial districts and circuits with the most burdensome caseloads. Last year, Senator Coons and I introduced the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013 to enact these recommendations into law. ...There remain 57 vacancies on the Federal bench--far more than the 42 vacancies at this point during the Bush administration. There are an additional 24 announced future vacancies ... The incredible burden facing Federal courts in Texas is understandable with its nine current district court vacancies--more than any other State. ...I also hope that the Texas Senators will continue to work with the administration on nominees to fill the six other current district vacancies in their State as well as the four known future district court vacancies."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement and letters of support for Pamela Harris's Fourth Circuit nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/24/14
"Both her testimony and the letters of bipartisan support for her nomination demonstrate that Pam Harris has a clear understanding of the role of a judge and make clear her commitment to follow Supreme Court precedent and to uphold the Constitution."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/24/14
"Many lawyers who have practiced with Pam Harris have written in support of her nomination, including many prominent Republicans who are respected in the legal community. One letter, signed by more than 80 of her professional peers, including Gregory Garre, the former U.S. Solicitor General for President George W. Bush reads, “We are lawyers from diverse backgrounds and varying affiliations, but we are united in our admiration for Pam's skills as a lawyer and our respect for her integrity, her intellect, her judgment, and her fair-mindedness.” Another letter of support from a number of current and former partners at O’Melveny and Myers LLP, including A.B. Culvahouse, who served as White House Counsel during the Reagan administration and Walter Dellinger, who served as Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel and Acting U.S. Solicitor General during the Clinton administration reads, “Although we may not all share Pam’s views on a range of legal and political issues, we are united in the belief that Pam possesses the intellect, fair-mindedness, humility, and fundamental decency to make an excellent federal judge.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/17/14
"I have heard some Senators claim that Pamela Harris would be unable to set aside political views and faithfully uphold the Constitution. This is contradicted by both her testimony before the Committee and her professional record. The Committee has received many letters of support for Ms. Harris’ nomination, including from numerous prominent Republicans who are respected in the legal community."