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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. Leahy: Senate Republicans Leave Town After Blocking Dozens Of Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/24/12
“We all know that justice delayed is justice denied. By denying confirmation votes to 15 of these 17 nominations, Senate Republicans are denying justice to the American people,” Leahy said. “By refusing to vote on these 15 nominations, Senate Republicans have declared that they are unconcerned about the millions of Americans who will continue to lack adequate access to our Federal courts and speedy justice.” “Senate Republicans have not explained their unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s consensus nominees, they just try to pretend it does not exist,” Leahy said. “The American people know better, and they deserve better.”

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Unanimous Consent Requests for Votes on District Court Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/20/12
"Senate Republicans have raised the level of partisanship so that these Federal trial court nominees have now become wrapped around the axle of partisanship. Despite a vacancy crisis that threatens the ability of Federal courts to provide justice for the American people, Senate Republicans now refuse to allow a vote on any of the 17 pending district court nominees, including 12 that have been declared judicial emergency vacancies. Senate Republicans' across-the-board obstruction of President Obama's judicial nominees that began with their filibuster of his very first nominee continues. For the first time I can recall, even district court nominees with support from Republican home State Senators face months of delay if not outright opposition from the Senate Republican leadership and Senate Republicans. The long delays and backlog we are seeing on the Federal trial courts and Senate Republicans' refusal to vote on so many consensus judicial nominees before we recess for the upcoming Presidential election are entirely without precedent. The Thurmond rule has never been applied to stop votes on consensus district court nominees. In September 2008 we reported and confirmed 10 of President Bush's district court nominees and left none on the Senate calendar as we headed into that Presidential election. In contrast, this year we are still waiting on votes for district court nominees reported by the Judiciary Committee in April, June, July, and August. All but 1 of these 17 district court nominees was reported with significant bipartisan support, all but 3 nearly unanimously. ... I urge Senator Toomey, Senator Kirk, Senator Rubio, Senator Coburn, Senator Inhofe, Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, Senator Collins and Senator Snowe, all of whom have judicial nominees on the calendar ready for a final Senate vote, to reason with their leadership about this obstruction. I ask other Republican Senators who know better to weigh in with their leadership."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Obstruction of Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/20/12
"I have served in the Senate for 37 years, and I have never seen so many judicial nominees, reported with bipartisan support, be denied a simple up-or-down vote for 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, even 11 months. And if there was any doubt that Senate Republicans insist on being the party of no, their current decision to deny votes on these highly qualified, noncontroversial district court nominees--while we are in the middle of a judicial vacancy crisis--shows what they stand for. They care more about opposing this President than helping the American people."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy Criticizes Unprecedented Partisan Obstruction Of Consensus District Court Picks
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/20/12
Senate Republicans objected today to approving the 17 district court nominees who have been pending on the Senate calendar since as far back as April, including those who enjoy the support of their home state Republican Senators. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has repeatedly called for the Senate to clear the backlog of nominations, and criticized the partisan obstruction of consensus picks today

Sen. Leahy Calls On Senate To Take Up Circuit Court Nominee
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/30/12
Leahy called on his Senate colleagues to drop their partisan opposition and allow Bacharach’s nomination to be considered. “The American people need to understand that Senate Republicans are stalling and filibustering judicial nominees supported by their home state Republican Senators,” Leahy said in a statement. “What they are doing now is a first. As I have noted, no circuit court nominee reported with the bipartisan support of the Judiciary Committee has ever been successfully filibustered.”

Sen. Leahy Urges Confirmation Of Long-Pending District Court Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/23/12
Press Release & Statement: “There is no good reason that the Senate should not vote on consensus nominees like Judge Shipp and more than a dozen other consensus judicial nominees to fill Federal trial court,” said Leahy. “I wish that the Senate would confirm the 21 judicial nominees pending right now.”

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement with Comprehensive Overview & Update on Obstruction of President Obama's Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/23/12
"There is no good reason that the Senate should not vote on consensus nominees like Judge Shipp and more than a dozen other consensus judicial nominees to fill Federal trial court vacancies in Iowa, California, Utah, Connecticut, Maryland, Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. There is no good reason the Senate should not vote on the nominations of William Kayatta of Maine to the First Circuit, Judge Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to the Tenth Circuit, Richard Taranto to the Federal Circuit and for that matter Judge Patty Shwartz of New Jersey to the Third Circuit, who is supported by New Jersey's Republican Governor.... Despite vacancies still remaining near or above 80, Senate Republicans continue to obstruct and stall nominees on the Senate floor for no good reason. We could easily have confirmed both Judges Shipp and McNulty together three months ago. It is this type of across-the-board obstruction of judicial nominees by Senate Republicans that has contributed to the judicial vacancy crisis in our Federal courts."

Sen. Leahy Presses Republicans To Join Democrats In Approving Consensus Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/16/12
"Today we will vote on only one of the 18 judicial nominations voted on by the Judiciary Committee but that are being stalled for no good reason.... Today vacancies on the Federal courts are more than two and one half times as many as they were on this date during the first term of President Bush. Today, there are still 78 vacancies. Their tactics have actually led to an increase in judicial vacancies during President Obama’s first term – a development that is a sad first. ... in the past five presidential election years, Senate Democrats have never denied an up-or-down vote to any circuit court nominee of a Republican President who received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Kevin McNulty Nomination and GOP Obstruction of Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/16/12
"William Kayatta was voted on by the Committee and placed before the Senate by mid April and could have been confirmed then. Richard Taranto and Judge Shwartz have been stalled before the Senate even longer, since March. As I explained in my last statement, Senate Republicans have shut down confirmations of circuit court judges not just in June or July but, in effect, for the entire year. The Senate has yet to vote on a single circuit court nominee nominated by President Obama this year. Since 1980, the only presidential election year in which there were no circuit nominees confirmed who were nominated that year was in 1996, when Senate Republicans shut down the process against President Clinton’s circuit nominees."

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Rosenbaum Nomination And Calls To The GOP Leadership To End Obstruction
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/26/12
"The American people need to understand that Senate Republicans are stalling and filibustering judicial nominees supported by their home state Republican Senators. Just two weeks ago we needed to overcome a filibuster to confirm Justice Andrew Hurwitz of the Arizona Supreme Court to the Ninth Circuit despite the strong support of Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain. This year started with the Majority Leader having to file cloture to get an up-or-down vote on Judge Adalberto Jordan of Florida to the Eleventh Circuit even though he was strongly supported by his Republican home state Senator. And every single one of these circuit nominees for whom the Majority Leader was forced to file cloture this year was rated unanimously well qualified by the nonpartisan ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the highest possible rating. And every one of them was nominated to fill a judicial emergency vacancy. ... In the past five presidential election years, Senate Democrats have never denied an up-or-down vote to any circuit court nominee of a Republican president who received bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee. That is what Senate Republicans are now seeking to do by blocking votes on William Kayatta, Judge Bacharach and Richard Taranto."

Statement Of Senator Leahy On The Lewis Nomination And Obstruction In The Senate
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/18/12
"I was heartened to see that the senior Senator from Maine has said that she will continue to work with the bipartisan Senate leadership in an effort to bring his the Maine nominee to the First Circuit before the Senate for a confirmation vote. I trust that the many Republican Senators who joined Senator Kyl and Senator McCain in opposing the filibuster of Justice Hurwitz will now join to oppose the filibusters of William Kayatta of Maine, Judge Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, Judge Shwartz of New Jersey, and Richard Taranto for the Federal Circuit. I would hope that the Senators from South Carolina, whose state’s nominee we consider today, will aid this effort just as we have worked with them throughout the process to ensure that they were consulted by the President and that they consented to proceeding with this nominee from their home state. I hope that they will show that courtesy to other Senators."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Republican Opposition To Consensus Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/14/12
“This shutdown is consistent with what the partisan Senate Republican leadership did in 1996 and again at the end of President Clinton’s presidency, and can be contrasted with how Democrats acted in 1992, 2004 and 2008. This is really a challenge to the Senators who have said that they will not support these filibusters and this kind of shutdown, and to those Republican Senators who support the circuit court nominees from Maine and Oklahoma. They should reject this obstruction, just as the Senate rejected the filibusters of Judges Paul Watford and Andrew Hurwitz. It is hard to see how this new 'Thurmond Rule' shutdown is anything more than another name for the stalling tactics we have seen for months and years. I have yet to hear any good reason why we should not continue to vote on well-qualified, consensus nominees, just as we did up until September of the last two presidential election years. I have yet to hear a good explanation as to why we cannot work to solve the problem of high vacancies for the American people. I will continue to work with the Senate leadership to try to confirm as many of President Obama’s qualified judicial nominees as possible to fill the many judicial vacancies that burden our courts and the American people across the country.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Nomination Of Jeffrey Helmick
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/06/12
"That delay is being demonstrated again with respect to the nominations of Justice Hurwitz to the Ninth Circuit, Judge Shwartz to the Third Circuit, Richard Taranto to the Federal Circuit, and William Kayatta to the First Circuit. These are not controversial or ideologically driven nominees. Justice Hurwitz is strongly supported by Senator Kyl and Senator McCain; William Kayatta is strongly supported by Senator Snowe and Senator Collins. Another point made by the Congressional Research Service is that fewer circuit court nominees have been confirmed than were confirmed during the first terms of any of President Obama’s four predecessors—President Reagan, President Geroge H.W. Bush, President Clinton, or President George W. Bush."

Sen. Leahy Statement On Obstruction, Vacancies, Nominations & Judge Hillman
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/04/12
"we have passed over consideration of four other nominees who are all listed on the Executive Calendar ahead of Judge Hillman. Those nominees – Andrew Hurwitz for the Ninth Circuit, Jeffrey Helmick for the Northern District of Ohio, Patty Shwartz for the Third Circuit, and Mary Lewis for the District of South Carolina – are all extremely well qualified, have the support of their home state Senators, were reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee, and deserve an up-or-down vote ... we need to agree to vote on the 15 other judicial nominees stalled on the Executive Calendar because there are still far too many vacancies ... The recently released CRS Report also notes that in five of the last eight presidential election years, the Senate has confirmed at least 22 nominees after May 31. Because of how far we are lagging from President Bush’s record of confirmations, we should be working to exceed those numbers."

Sen. Leahy May 14 Floor Statement on Ninth Circuit Nominees, Senate Delays, Vacancies and Emergencies
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/14/12
"We reduced vacancies on the Ninth Circuit during President Bush's two terms to only a single vacancy. Four of President Bush's Ninth Circuit nominees were confirmed during his first 4-year term ... By contrast, Senate Republicans are opposing our moving forward to consider and confirm Paul Watford and Andrew Hurwitz, who are both strongly supported by their home State Senators, to fill judicial emergency vacancies, and they filibustered the nomination of Goodwin Liu, who also had the strong support of his home State Senators. ... In May 2004, we reduced judicial vacancies to below 50 on the way to 28 that August. Despite 2004 being an election year, we were able to reduce vacancies to the lowest level in the last 20 years. ... In October 2008, another Presidential election year, we again worked to reduce judicial vacancies and were able to get back down to 34 vacancies. ... By comparison, the vacancy rate remains nearly twice what it was at this point in the first term of President Bush, and has remained near or above 80 for nearly three years."

Senate Confirms Two To District Courts In Texas; Leahy Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/26/12
Judicial vacancies across the country continue to number around 80. In contrast, at the same point in the Bush administration, vacancies had been reduced to 45. “To make real progress, the Senate needs to proceed to consideration of the 24 judicial nominations currently before the Senate awaiting a final vote and the others working their way through the Committee process,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “The ten of those nominations that have been pending the longest are all to fill judicial emergency vacancies that should have been filled long ago.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Nomination of Judge Brian Wimes of Missouri
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/23/12
"We will conclude the first four months of this year having only considered judicial nominees who should have been confirmed before recessing last December. We have yet to get to any of the nominees we should be considering this year because of Republican objections to proceeding more promptly. ... The Senate is 33 confirmations of circuit and district court judges behind the number at this point in President Bush’s fourth year in office.... the Federal judiciary has been forced to operate with the heavy burden of 80 or more judicial vacancies for nearly three years now. There are 22 judicial nominees on the Senate Executive Calendar ready for final consideration ... Paul Watford of California and Justice Andrew Hurwitz of Arizona were both voted favorably from the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year. There is no good reason for delay. ... of the current vacancies without a nomination, 28 involve Republican home state Senators.... There are also an additional seven nominations on which the Senate Judiciary Committee cannot proceed because Republican Senators are withholding support."

Sen. Leahy: Thacker Confirmed To Fourth Circuit; Nominee Is Just Second Circuit Nomination Confirmed This Year
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/16/12
"Her consideration has been delayed more than five months and will not occur until May 7. But there are two more Ninth Circuit nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies who are before the Senate awaiting final consideration. Paul Watford of California was reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee in early February. His nomination should be scheduled for a confirmation vote without further delay. Justice Andrew Hurwitz of Arizona was reported favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee in early March. His nomination should also be scheduled for a confirmation vote. There is no good reason for delay. The 61 million people served by the Ninth Circuit are not served by this delay. The Circuit is being forced to handle double the caseload of any other without its full complement of judges. The Senate should be expediting consideration of the nominations of Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, Paul Watford, and Justice Andrew Hurwitz, not delaying them."