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Sen. Leahy: Nominees To Top DOJ Posts Approved By Senate Judiciary Committee . . . Three Judicial Nominees Also Approved During Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/06/14
Three judicial nominations to district court seats in Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Illinois were also approved during Thursday’s executive business meeting.

Sen. Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee Statement, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/30/14
"Today, we have just five nominations on the agenda – three judicial nominations and two executive nominations. All are listed on the agenda for the first time, and I understand Republicans may seek to have them held over until next week."

Sens. Leahy And Sanders Announce Merit Commission To Screen Candidates For Vermont’s Upcoming Federal Judicial Vacancy
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/24/14
Leahy said, “Through his years of service to Vermont and the nation, Judge Sessions has set a high standard for fairness and integrity. We want to continue Vermont’s tradition of outstanding jurists who are well-grounded in our community. Judicial selection commissions are not required and take some extra effort, but I have long believed that they work well in finding good candidates.” Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now also President Pro Tempore of the Senate, added: “Our commission structure also sets a good example for other states. It has worked well in Vermont, and I have seen it work well elsewhere. I want to continue this tradition in Vermont to help ensure that our state has a full complement of highly qualified judges on the federal bench. I thank our commissioners for donating their time, their knowledge, their insight and their patience in helping to make this possible.”

Sen. Leahy: SJC Sends 30 Nominees To Full Senate
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/16/14
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved 30 judicial and executive nominees, including 10 nominees the Committee approved last year and 8 who would fill judicial emergencies. The Committee’s action today comes as 94 judicial vacancies throughout the country prevent the courts from operating at full strength. The Senate failed at the end of last year to confirm dozens of judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor, who were returned to the White House because of Republican delay tactics.

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Wilkins To The D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/14/14
“As we begin 2014, I hope we can set aside our differences and do what is best for this country by confirming qualified nominees to fill critical vacancies facing our Federal Judiciary,” Leahy said in a statement, referencing the record high number of judicial vacancies across the country. Leahy called Wilkins “an outstanding nominee,” who with his confirmation today, becomes just the sixth African American in history to serve on the powerful D.C. Circuit. “Despite the progress made in the past several decades, the struggle to diversify our Federal bench continues,” Leahy said. “I am proud to support the nomination of Judge Wilkins today and to support other highly qualified nominees whose diverse personal and professional background help further enrich the judiciary.”

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/13/14
"Once Judge Wilkins is confirmed, the DC Circuit, which is often considered to be the second most important court in the Nation, will finally be operating at full strength. The American people deserve no less....Despite the progress made in the past several decades, the struggle to diversify our Federal bench continues. When confirmed, Judge Wilkins will be only the sixth African American to have ever served on the DC Circuit."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of Robert Wilkins
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/09/14
"As we begin 2014, I hope we can set aside our differences and do what is best for this country by confirming qualified nominees to fill critical vacancies facing our Federal Judiciary. We can do this today by voting to end the filibuster of Judge Robert Wilkins, who has been nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. ... Another threat facing our courts which is unaddressed in the Chief’s year-end report are the continuing vacancies experienced by the Federal courts. Over the last year, the number of vacancies has hovered around 90 because obstruction in Congress has led to filibuster after filibuster of qualified nominees. And the unfortunate action taken by Republicans at the end of the first session of this Congress will only mean further delay in filling these vacancies—Republicans, for the first time ever, refused to allow any currently pending judicial nominees to be held over so that they could be ready for immediate action this year. For purely political reasons, Senate Republicans are forcing us to duplicate work this year that we already completed in 2013."

Sen. Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/09/14
"Today, we have 36 nominees on the agenda—29 judicial and 7 executive nominees. I understand that we will hold over all of the judicial nominations and one executive nominee ... I hope that the new year brings renewed cooperation among Committee members."

Comment Of SJC Chairman Leahy On Chief Justice Roberts' Year-End Report On The Federal Judiciary
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/31/13
“One threat facing our courts which is unaddressed in the Chief's year-end report are the continuing vacancies plaguing the Federal courts. This year, the number of vacancies has hovered around 90 because obstruction in Congress has led to filibuster after filibuster of qualified nominees. We must not take for granted that we have the greatest justice system in the world, and ensuring this continues requires the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Republicans Block Nine Judicial Nominees From Confirmation
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/20/13
“Republicans are once again—for the fifth year in a row—rejecting the longstanding Senate practice of scheduling confirmation votes on consensus nominees before the end of the session,” Leahy said. “The result is that we will spend a significant portion of the next year on the Senate floor doing work that should have been completed this year.” A total of 55 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor will be returned to the White House because of Republican delay tactics, Leahy said, including recent obstruction of the Committee even meeting to consider nominees. Leahy noted that the Senate confirmed on Friday Brian Davis to a district court seat in Florida. Davis’s nomination lagged for 660 days. Judge Robert Wilkins, a nominee to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, will be considered early next year. “As we approach the new year, I hope that reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties and do its work for the American people,” he said.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Dec. 19th Committee Exec Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/19/13
"Yet, for the last three weeks, the minority has prevented us from doing our work. Today, we have 18 nominees on the agenda—15 judicial and 3 executive nominees."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Republican Opposition To Judicial Confirmation Hearing On Consensus Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/18/13
“The Republican shutdown of the Judiciary Committee is consistent with the obstruction we have witnessed over the last five years, which has led to record high vacancies in federal courts throughout the country. Home state Senators were consulted with respect to the nominees scheduled to appear before the Committee today who, when confirmed, will fill vacancies in California, Maine and Maryland, and an emergency vacancy in Kansas. The families of these nominees invested time and personal expense to travel to Washington for this hearing, losses they will never recover. This escalating obstruction undermines the Senate’s constitutional responsibility of advice and consent. “Just last week, Republicans prevented the Judiciary Committee from holding an executive business meeting to consider 18 highly qualified nominees, including two Texas U.S. Marshals. Those two nominees should have been approved by the Committee last month, but Republicans failed to attend the meeting to report their nominations. As Chairman of the Judiciary Com­mittee, I have consistently shown my commitment to work with all Senators to process nominations. This obstruction sets back the bipartisan cooperation we have seen in recent weeks on such legislative matters as the budget, the defense authorization bill, and the Farm Bill. If this obstruction continues with respect to judicial nominees, I will be forced to reconsider long-held policies that have upheld the rights of the minority party in this process.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Pillard To The D.C. Circuit Court
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/12/13
“Despite having filled nearly half of law school classrooms for the last 20 years, women are grossly underrepresented on our Federal courts. We need women on the Federal bench,” Leahy said. “The Senate moved another step forward in that effort by voting to confirm Nina Pillard, one of several highly qualified women nominated by President Obama like Patricia Millett, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. I am proud to support such incredible nominees, and I applaud the Senate for voting to confirm Nina Pillard.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Moves Closer To Filling Vacancies On D.C. Circuit; Pillard Poised To Be Confirmed To 10th Seat
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/10/13
“The D.C. Circuit is often considered to be the second most important court in the Nation and should be operating at full strength,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. “Today we will take a step toward making this Court operate at full strength for the American people.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Confirms Millett To The D.C. Circuit Court
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/10/13
"John Roberts was confirmed unanimously to the D.C. Circuit on the day the Judiciary Committee completed consideration of his nomination and reported it to the Senate—at a time when the caseload of the D.C. Circuit by any measure was lower than it is today. If only Senate Republicans had been willing to apply the same standard for Ms. Millett. Instead, they decided to filibuster her nomination even though they had promised to only filibuster nominations under “extraordinary circumstances.” If those Senators had been true to their word, I do not believe we would have reached the tipping point on the use of the filibuster. By refusing to allow a vote for any existing vacancy on the D.C. Circuit, Republicans took their determined obstruction to an unprecedented level.... Now that the Senate has changed its precedents to overcome the escalating obstruction of some, I hope reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties."

Sen. Leahy on home-state Senator blue-slip process
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/27/13
"I assume no one will abuse the blue slip process like some have abused the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees on the floor of the Senate," Leahy said. "As long as the blue slip process is not being abused by home state senators, then I will see no reason to change that tradition."

Leahy Supports Change In Senate Rules To Address Unprecedented Filibusters: “As a result of Republican obstruction of nominees, the Senate has failed to do its job for the courts and for the American people”
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/21/13
In recent weeks, Senate Republicans have blocked three highly qualified nominees to serve on the D.C. Circuit. Since 2009, 14 circuit court nominees have been filibustered, and Senate Republicans have forced cloture to end filibusters on nearly three dozen of President Obama’s judicial nominees. Meanwhile, federal judicial vacancies have consistently hovered around 90. The obstruction, Leahy said, “is damaging our ability to fulfill the Senate’s unique constitutional responsibility of advice and consent to ensure that the judicial branch has the judges it needs to do its job.” ... "I have always looked skeptically at efforts to change the Senate rules.” Today, Leahy said, the Senate “is faced with what to do to overcome this abuse and what action we should take to restore this body’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties and do its work for the American people.”

Sen. Leahy: Arguments of Convenience Block Judicial Appointments; Once described as unconstitutional by the GOP, filibustering has become its default strategy.
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/18/13
Sen. Patrick Leahy: "Senate Republicans have abandoned this responsibility, using unprecedented filibusters to delay and obstruct President Obama from appointing to the federal bench even nominations that enjoy bipartisan support. Senate Republicans have forced cloture, a procedural mechanism to bring a matter to a vote, to end filibusters on 34 nominees, nearly twice as many nominees than required cloture during President Bush's two terms. Almost all of these nominees were, by any standard, noncontroversial and ultimately were confirmed overwhelmingly. Republican obstruction has left the federal judiciary often with 90 or more vacancies over the past five years. ... Senate Republicans have abandoned this responsibility, using unprecedented filibusters to delay and obstruct President Obama from appointing to the federal bench even nominations that enjoy bipartisan support. Senate Republicans have forced cloture, a procedural mechanism to bring a matter to a vote, to end filibusters on 34 nominees, nearly twice as many nominees than required cloture during President Bush's two terms. Almost all of these nominees were, by any standard, noncontroversial and ultimately were confirmed overwhelmingly. Republican obstruction has left the federal judiciary often with 90 or more vacancies over the past five years.... The unprecedented obstruction also has affected the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ... The same Republican senator who in these pages recently cited caseload concerns once noted that "comparing workloads in the D.C. Circuit to that of other circuits is, to a large extent, a pointless exercise. There is little dispute that the D.C. Circuit's docket is, by far, the most complex and time consuming in the Nation.""

Sen. Leahy on Ronnie White renomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/18/13
“I was glad to see him come back. I thought he was extraordinarily well-qualified the first time. I think that John Ashcroft made a bad mistake,” Leahy said last week. “Every single Democrat voted for him, and every single Republican voted against him. I think it was outrageous.”

Sen. Leahy Statement at Judiciary Committee Business Meeting on 10th Circuit & D.C. Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/14/13
"The first nominee that we will consider today is nominated to the Tenth Circuit. That court has 10 active judges and 10 senior judges to handle 1,341 pending appeals. The D.C. Circuit has 8 active judges and 6 senior judges to handle 1,479 pending appeals. The Tenth Circuit has the lowest caseload of pending appeals per judge in the country. And it will go even lower once its two vacancies are filled. I want to make clear, however, that it is my belief that the nonpartisan Judicial Conference, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, is in the best position to determine the number of judges needed to handle the caseload of our coequal branch of government. Therefore, I will move forward today and call up the Tenth Circuit nominee for a vote. The Ranking Member’s talking points frequently focus on the number of appeals filed instead of the number of appeals pending in the D.C. Circuit. Anyone familiar with the nature of the cases heard by the D.C. Circuit knows that its cases are more complex than other appeals courts. With that important reality in mind, the number of pending appeals is a better gauge of the court’s actual workload and judgeship needs. For example, as of June 30, 2013 there were 1479 pending appeals in the D.C. Circuit. If the D.C. Circuit only had 1 additional appeal filed since the end of March, its caseload for the year would be 1480, not merely the 1, since the court would still have to dispose of the remaining 1479 appeals as well."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of Cornelia “Nina” Pillard
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/12/13
"Confirming these two highly qualified nominees is the right thing to do and it will make history--once these two extraordinary women are confirmed, the D.C. Circuit will be the first Federal appellate court in our country to have an equal number of women serving as judges as men. ...In 2003, the Senate unanimously confirmed John Roberts by voice vote to be the ninth judge on the D.C. Circuit – at a time when its caseload was lower than it is today – and, in fact, his confirmation marked the lowest caseload level per judge on the D.C. Circuit in 20 years. Not a single Senate Republican raised any concerns about whether the caseload warranted his confirmation, and during the Bush administration, they voted to fill four vacancies on the D.C. Circuit – giving the court a total of 11 judges in active service. Today there are only eight judges on the court. ... In 2003, the Senate unanimously confirmed John Roberts by voice vote to be the ninth judge on the D.C. Circuit – at a time when its caseload was lower than it is today – and, in fact, his confirmation marked the lowest caseload level per judge on the D.C. Circuit in 20 years. Not a single Senate Republican raised any concerns about whether the caseload warranted his confirmation, and during the Bush administration, they voted to fill four vacancies on the D.C. Circuit – giving the court a total of 11 judges in active service. Today there are only eight judges on the court. ... The D.C. Circuit should be operating at full strength as it was when President Bush held office. ... If the Republican caucus continues to abuse the filibuster rules and obstruct the President’s fine nominees to the D.C. Circuit, then I believe this body will need to consider anew whether a rules change should be in order."

Sen. Leahy Calls On Senate Republicans To End Filibuster Of Highly Qualified Circuit Court Nominee
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/12/13
"“Like Caitlin Halligan, and like Patricia Millett, I am confident that Nina Pillard would be confirmed if Republicans would stop filibustering and allow an up or down vote on her nomination,” Leahy said in a floor statement. “If Republicans vote in lock step to continue their filibuster against Nina Pillard, Senate Republicans will have blocked three outstanding women in a row from being confirmed to what is considered the second highest court in our country.”

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Woods and Brown district court nominations, vacancies, and GOP filibusters and home-state Senator delay of nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/04/13
"If confirmed, Ms. Brown would be the first African-American woman to serve as a Federal judge in Mississippi. I am proud that together we will reach a landmark moment in diversity on the Federal bench, and I commend President Obama, Senator Wicker, and Senator Cochran for their important efforts. ... We have more than 90 judicial vacancies, and 37 of these vacancies have been designated as emergency vacancies due to high caseloads by the nonpartisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.... there was a lot of talk by Senate Republicans that Senate Democrats should be concerned with filling judicial emergency vacancies rather than the DC Circuit, which they claim does not need more judges. We all know that their arguments about the DC Circuit have nothing to do with caseload and everything to do with the political party of the President nominating.... if the filibuster rules continue to be abused by my Republican colleagues I will have no option but to reconsider my longstanding opposition to such a change.... nearly half of the emergency vacancies are empty because of Republican obstruction. First, there are 15 judicial nominees pending before the full Senate, including 7 nominees who would fill judicial emergency vacancies if the Republicans would allow us to vote on them today ... Much of these delay tactics occur earlier in the process,... In fact, there are judicial emergency vacancies that have persisted for years because certain Republican Senators refuse to either return their blue slip or provide a recommendation to the President."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Senate treatment of GW Bush and Obama D.C. Circuit Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/04/13
"I would note that when President Bush nominated John Roberts for the ninth seat to the DC Circuit, he was confirmed by every single Republican and Democrat voting for him. Patricia Millett, with exactly the same credentials as he for the Ninth seat, was filibustered by the Republicans. Were they treated differently? Yes."

Chairman Leahy Statement on D.C. Circuit Vacancies and Nominees at Judiciary Committee Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/31/13
"When President Bush held office, there were no objections to confirming John Roberts to the D.C. Circuit, when the court’s caseload, measured by pending appeals per active judge, was reduced to its lowest level in the past 20 years. The Senate then confirmed three more of President Bush’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit: Janice Rogers Brown, Thomas Griffith and Brett Kavanaugh. These nominees filled the tenth, eleventh, and again the tenth seats, and not a single Senate Republican raised any concern about whether those judges were truly needed. Patricia Millett is nominated to the seat that John Roberts vacated, the ninth seat.... This past July , the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Wyoming Attorney General Gregory Phillips to the Tenth Circuit. With his confirmation, the number of pending appeals per active judge on that court dropped from 150 to 135. The D.C. Circuit currently has 185 pending appeals per active judge. Despite that higher caseload, some Senate Republicans argue that the D.C. Circuit’s caseload is too low, and that three of its judgeships should be eliminated."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Panel Approves Nomination To D.C. Circuit; Wilkins Would Fill Third Vacancy On Court
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/31/13
“Later today the Senate will vote on whether to end a filibuster against another nominee to the D.C. Circuit, Patricia Millett. In the course of that debate, I have heard Republicans argue that the D.C. Circuit does not need any more judges,” Leahy said. “History shows that these Republican arguments have nothing to do with caseload and everything to do with the party of the president.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of Patricia Millett to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/31/13
"No student of history can honestly say that nominating candidates to existing vacancies is court-packing. ... by the time Peter Keisler was nominated, four of President Bush’s nominees to the D.C. Circuit had been confirmed. Only one of President Obama’s nominees to this court has been confirmed and another has been filibustered. Mr. Keisler was nominated to the 11th seat on the D.C. Circuit – and would have marked the fifth time a President Bush nominee was confirmed the court and the second time a Bush nominee was confirmed to be the 11th judge on the court. At that time, Democrats noted the hypocrisy of Republicans pushing to confirm a second judge to the 11th seat on the D.C. Circuit after they had blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination in 1996 to be the 11th judge. ... he circuit court with the lowest caseload is actually the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which as of June 30, 2013, has 1,341 total pending appeals and 134 pending appeals per active judge. In contrast, the D.C. Circuit has 1,479 total pending appeals and 185 pending appeals per active judge....If Ms. McHugh and Ms. Moritz are both confirmed, the Tenth Circuit will be at full strength with 12 active judges. ...Some have also cited the D.C. Circuit’s six senior judges as a reason to filibuster Patricia Millett’s nomination. Of course, the Tenth Circuit has 10 senior judges,"

Leahy: Senate Should Confirm Millett To The D.C. Circuit Court; “She deserves to be considered on her merits”
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/30/13
"Through her legal work, Ms. Millett has earned broad bipartisan support. This includes the support of Peter Keisler, Carter Phillips, Kenneth Starr, Theodore Olson and Paul Clement and a bipartisan group of 110 appellate practitioners, as well as 37 Deputy Solicitors General and Assistants to the Solicitor General from both Republican and Democratic administrations. She is supported by both the National President of the National Fraternal Order of Police and the Deputy Commissioner of the New York Police Department. Ms. Millet has the support of the military community including Major General Clark H. McNair, Jr., U.S. Army, Retired; Michael Hall, Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army, Retired; Blue Star Families; and the Gallant Few."