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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/04/14
"These nominees are not controversial and in past years would have been confirmed weeks, or even months, ago. Instead, Republicans continue to refuse to give consent for votes on any judicial nominee, irrespective of their qualifications or the support of home State Senators. As a result, yesterday the Senate was forced again to waste valuable time voting to end the unnecessary filibusters of three highly qualified nominees. The Senate has now voted to end the filibusters of 44 judicial nominees so far during 2014. It is every Senator's right to demand continued debate on any measure or nomination before this chamber. But I would say to any Senator who requires a cloture vote on a qualified, consensus nominee to at least speak about the nominee and not to obstruct for obstruction's sake.... there are 10 additional judicial nominees reported by the Judiciary Committee pending on the Senate Executive Calendar, including seven nominees who were reported unanimously. Six of the 10 judicial nominees that will be left pending after today's confirmation votes will fill judicial emergency vacancies in the District of Nevada, the Southern District of Illinois, and in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. I hope that the Senate moves quickly to confirm these nominees, and others."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy, Statement, Hearing On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/04/14
"Today, we will hear from four well-qualified judicial nominees, one to the district court in the great state of Vermont and three to U.S. Court of Federal Claims. ...I recommended Justice Crawford to President Obama after he was vetted and recommended to me by Vermont’s non-partisan Judicial Nominating Commission. I did not know Justice Crawford personally before this process but when I did meet him I was struck by his brilliance, compassion, and humility. Justice Crawford earned a stellar reputation in Vermont’s legal community and also from those who had appeared him as a careful jurist who understands the effects that legal rulings have on people’s lives."

Sen. Leahy Praises EPA’s Historic New Limits On Pollution From The Power Sector
(Democrat - Vermont) 06/02/14
"The EPA is doing just what Congress and the Supreme Court has directed under the Clean Air Act: If a pollutant endangers public health and welfare, it must be limited."

Sen. Leahy Posts Official Notice Of June 4 Confirmation Hearing For Vermont Chief Justice Crawford, Nominated For Vermont’s Upcoming District Court Vacancy
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/29/14
"The U.S. District Court in Vermont is at full strength with two active judges currently serving, but Judge William Sessions’ decision to take senior status will soon create a vacancy.... Leahy has called Justice Crawford “a fine jurist in the finest Vermont tradition.”"

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement in suppoort of David Barron nomination to the First Circuit
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/22/14
"Yesterday, we were able to overcome the unjustified Republican filibuster of this extraordinary nominee. Now, I have had the privilege of serving longer in this body than any other Senator here. I have never seen so many filibusters of judicial nominees by any President, Republican or Democratic. In fact, Republicans filibustered the very first judge President Obama sent to this body, a judge who was strongly supported by the Senators from his State, one of whom was the most senior Republican in this body, the other a moderate Democrat.... David Barron ... clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice John Paul Stevens. In fact, I recall that Justice Stevens had so much regard for him that he attended Mr. Barron's nomination hearing. I am in full support of Mr. Barron's nomination. It is almost as if he was sent to central casting for who should be a court of appeals judge. I have not seen any judicial nominee with better qualifications by either a Republican or Democratic President....both Mr. Barron and a long list of bipartisan supporters have forcefully refuted any indication that he views the role of a judge as that of a policymaker.... Barron's respect for the rule of law was recently reaffirmed by Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell, a well-respected conservative scholar and former George W. Bush appointee to the Tenth Circuit."

Sen. Leahy: President Announces Intention To Nominate Vermont Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Crawford For Vermont’s Upcoming U.S. District Court Vacancy . . . As Recommended By Leahy, After Screening By Vermont Merit Panel
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/19/14
Leahy said, “The President sees in Justice Crawford what I, the members of the merit commission, and all Vermonters have come to know about him. He is a fine jurist in the finest Vermont tradition, and he is committed to the highest standards of public service. I look forward soon to bringing Justice Crawford before the Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing.”

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations [Barron, Costa & 6 AZ nominees]
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/14/14
"As I said last week, the Administration has made available unredacted copies of any memo issued by Mr. Barron regarding the potential use of lethal force against Anwar Al-Awlaki. This week, the Administration has made clear that this material included all written legal advice by Mr. Barron regarding potential use of lethal force against U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations. Senators therefore have had the opportunity to conduct their due diligence before voting on this nomination.... We should proceed to Mr. Barron’s nomination and confirm him so he can get to work on behalf of the American people. Delays are simply depriving the Federal judiciary and all Americans of a tremendous public servant."

Chairman Leahy Statement on Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/13/14
"Some of these positions have remained vacant for far too long. For instance, the two Eleventh Circuit seats are judicial emergency vacancies, as are two of the Northern District of Georgia seats. Some press accounts have described six of these nominees as being a “package deal” that was negotiated between the Georgia Senators and the President. I have noted before that there is no “deal” negotiated with me as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee or with any of the other Senators. The constitutional responsibility of advice and consent resides with each individual Senator, and there is no such thing as a binding deal that negates each Senator’s responsibility to determine the fitness of a judicial nominee for a lifetime appointment. Nor should any Senator be making up their minds about nominees without allowing the process to run its course. ... I note that today’s slate of nominees includes five women – I cannot recall the last time when so many women were seated at the witness table. The President has many critics but I believe he has done an outstanding job increasing the diversity of our Federal bench during his tenure and I commend him for continuing to do so. From district court nominees to circuit court nominees and even to his two Supreme Court Justice nominees, this President has made it a priority to have our federal bench reflect the people it serves."

Sen. Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/08/14
"There are four judicial nominations to fill emergency vacancies in Florida listed on the agenda. They were held over last week and I am glad that we can report them out today. They have the support of home state Senators Nelson and Rubio."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/08/14
"I am confident that once we proceed with Mr. Barron’s nomination that Senators will vote to confirm him. He is brilliant nominee who is currently a professor at Harvard Law School. He is a nationally recognized expert on constitutional law, the separation of powers, administrative law, and federalism. He clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens has such high regard for Mr. Barron that the Justice attended his nomination hearing. ...Mr. Barron is truly an outstanding nominee and I hope all Senators will support his nomination when it comes up. Today, we will vote to end the filibusters of four other very highly qualified nominees."

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of David Barron to Serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/08/14
“Earlier today, the Ranking Member requested that the administration provide materials relating to Anwar Al-Awlaki so that all Senators would be able to properly evaluate Mr. Barron’s nomination. The administration has now made available unredacted copies of any memo issued by Mr. Barron regarding the potential use of lethal force against Anwar Al-Awlaki. I hope and expect that all Senators will review these materials today.”

Sen. Leahy: Senate Makes Progress To Fill Judicial Vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/08/14
“From day one of this President’s time in office, Senate Republicans have obstructed and slowed the confirmation process,” Leahy said. “It is a shame we have to go to such lengths to confirm highly qualified nominees, but we are making progress. I thank the majority leader for making judicial nominations a priority and I hope that we are able to confirm more nominees in the coming weeks.” Leahy supported efforts last year to overcome Republican abuse of procedural rules. Following a change to the Senate rules, which took away a major hurdle in the confirmation process, the Senate has confirmed 32 judicial nominees so far this year. At the same point last year, the Senate confirmed just 14 of President Obama’s judicial nominees. The same obstruction that forced a change in Senate rules has also kept the judicial vacancy rate high under President Obama. Today, there are 74 judicial vacancies throughout the country. At the same point under President Bush in May 2006, there were 50 judicial vacancies.

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nomination of David Barron to Serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/06/14
“I applaud the administration for making available to all Senators the Justice Department memo regarding Anwar Al Awlaki. All members of the Judiciary Committee were previously able to review this memo, and I am glad all Senators will have the opportunity to do so now. Senate Republicans have consistently blocked most of President Obama’s judicial nominees so it comes as no surprise that they continue to do so with this nominee. David Barron is a brilliant lawyer who is committed to public service. Based on his entire career as a lawyer, I am confident he will be an excellent judge on the First Circuit. I supported David Barron’s nomination in the Judiciary Committee and I look forward to supporting his confirmation on the Senate floor.”

Sen. Leahy Statement on Delayed Vote to Confirm 10th Circuit Nominee Nancy Moritz
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/05/14
"Nancy Moritz is currently a justice on the Kansas Supreme Court, where she has been serving since 2011. She has the qualifications and has the support of her two Republican home State Senators, Mr. Pat Roberts and Mr. Jerry Moran. She was also reported from the Judiciary Committee unanimously by voice vote this past January. The Republicans continue to object to votes on all judicial nominations, even for completely noncontroversial nominees such as Justice Moritz . Cloture was finally invoked on Justice Moritz's nomination last week. There is no reason her nomination should have been filibustered given the bipartisan support that she has.... In fact, Justice Moritz should and could have been confirmed last year. She was first nominated last August, but her hearing was delayed until mid-November because of the Republican shutdown of the Federal Government. Senate Republicans then refused to vote on her nomination in committee at the end of last year and her nomination was returned to the President. As a result, the President had to renominate Justice Moritz and the Judiciary Committee had to reprocess her nomination this year. When we finally confirm Justice Moritz today, her nomination will have taken more than 9 months. It should not take this long to process noncontroversial nominees....I urge all of my colleagues to vote to confirm this excellent nominee."

Chairman Leahy Statement at Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/01/14
"I understand that Republican Members are asking that the four Florida nominations – to fill “judicial emergency vacancies” – all be held over."

Sen. Leahy Statement on Judicial Nominees, Vacancies, Filibusters, and Obstruction
(Democrat - Vermont) 05/01/14
"[W]e are again voting to overcome Republican filibusters of three highly qualified judicial nominees. Republicans continue to refuse to consent to vote on much needed judges to our Federal Judiciary. We currently stand at 80 vacancies and have not had fewer than 60 vacancies since February 2009, at the beginning of President Obama's first term. For most of President Obama's tenure in office, judicial vacancies have continued to hover around 80 and 90 because of Senate Republican obstruction. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans continue to object to votes on these nominations. This includes the three nominations that we are voting on today. ... All three of these nominees have the experience, judgment, and legal acumen to be terrific judges in our Federal courts. Let us end these unnecessary filibusters. I thank the majority leader for filing cloture petitions and I hope my fellow Senators will join me today to end these filibusters so that these nominees can get working on behalf of the American people.

Sen. Leahy Congressional Record Statement on GOP refusals to allow Obama judicial nominee votes at end of every year
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/29/14
"I recently heard remarks from the Minority Leader claiming that ``many of these nominees would have been confirmed last December had we not'' instituted the rules change. This statement is simply belied by the facts. Senate Republicans have obstructed and slowed the nominations process throughout this President's entire tenure--in both his first and second terms. At the end of each calendar year, Senate Republicans deliberately refuse to vote on several judicial nominees who could and should be confirmed in order to consume additional time the following year confirming these nominees. This has happened at the conclusion of every single year of the Obama presidency. At the end of 2009, they left 10 nominations on the Executive Calendar without a vote. Two of those nominations were returned to the President, and it subsequently took 9 months for the Senate to take action on the other 8. This resulted in the lowest 1-year confirmation total in at least 35 years. In 2010 and 2011, Senate Republicans left 19 nominations on the Senate Executive Calendar at the end of each year. It then took nearly half the following year for the Senate to confirm these nominees. In 2012, Senate Republicans left 11 judicial nominees without action and another four had hearings but Republicans refused to expedite their consideration. In 2013, Senate Republicans left 9 nominations on the Executive Calendar. Another 15 judicial nominees could have been reported to the full Senate and confirmed by the end of last year, but Senate Republicans blocked the Judiciary Committee's ability to meet to report these nominees to the full Senate. So, the idea that the rules change has somehow triggered Republican obstruction is simply not true. This has been a persistent and coordinated effort since the very beginning of the Obama presidency, and the rules change was an attempt to overcome some of these tactics of delay and obstruction."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/28/14
"After confirming John Owens, the Senate should proceed to Michelle Friedland’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit as soon as possible. The nomination of John Owens is an example of how the process of judicial nominations and consultation with home state senators should work."

Sen. Leahy Statement for Michelle Friedland nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/10/14
"[T]oday, we are again voting to overcome a Republican filibuster of a highly qualified nominee for a judicial emergency vacancy on the busiest circuit court in the country. For what is already the third time this year, the majority leader has had to file cloture on one of President Obama's circuit court nominees in order to move the nomination forward. In stark contrast, the Senate confirmed 18 of President Bush's circuit nominees within a week of being reported by the Judiciary Committee.... Michelle Friedland would increase the gender diversity on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She would be the seventeenth female judge to ever sit on the Circuit. In comparison, 83 men have been appointed to the Ninth Circuit over the course of its history. Her confirmation would bring the percentage of active female judges sitting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to nearly 38 percent. Her confirmation would also mark the first time, since the 29th judgeship was added in 2007, that it has had a full complement of active judges despite having the highest number of appeals filed, the highest pending appeals per panel and the highest pending appeals per active judge of any Circuit in the country. Yet here we are, again voting to overcome a Republican filibuster of an exceptionally talented nominee to a court that desperately needs to be operating at full strength."

Sen. Leahy: ‘Blue slips’ carry out constitutional duty
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/06/14
Senator Patrick Leahy: "I cannot recall a single judicial nominee being confirmed over the objection of his or her home-state senators. The blue slip process reflects this reality, and those who care about the courts and who want qualified judges confirmed should not overlook this fact. Those who believe that doing away with the blue slip process will bring only positive change are also forgetting that the like-minded will not always occupy the White House or control the Senate. ... I have long made clear that I would not rule out proceeding with a nomination if the blue slip is abused."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy: SJC Approves Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/03/14
"The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved four judicial nominees and the nominee to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ... Cheryl Krause, nominated to fill a judicial vacancy on the 3rd Circuit, was approved unanimously. The Committee also approved three district court nominees during Thursday’s executive business meeting"

(Democrat - Vermont) 03/31/14
"Thursday the Senate voted to end the filibuster on the nomination of John Owens of California to a judicial emergency vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This is the longest running vacancy in our entire Federal court system. Today the Senate will finally vote to confirm this outstanding nominee to a court that is in desperate need of judges. The Ninth Circuit is the busiest circuit court in the country, and yet it has not been operating at full strength for more than nine years. It has the highest number of appeals filed, the highest pending appeals per panel and the highest pending appeals per active judge. ... President Bush attempted an end run around home State Senators Feinstein and Boxer. ... The Bush administration also tried to get around home State senators in Maryland to fill a vacancy on the Fourth Circuit."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Committee Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/27/14
"We have four judicial nominations and one executive nomination listed on our agenda that were held over last week and are ready to be reported to the Senate by the Committee today. One of these nominees, Gregg Costa of Texas, would fill an emergency vacancy on the Fifth Circuit. I thank the Texas Senators for working with me to move this nominee. We also have some nominations listed for the first time that Republicans may want to hold over a week."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement: JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/27/14
"John Owens is nominated to fill the longest open vacancy on our Federal courts. For more than 9 years, the busiest circuit court in our Nation--the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit--has been running at less than full strength. ... We should and must approve Mr. Owens's nomination, along with Michelle Friedland's nomination to the Ninth Circuit, as soon as possible. ... We last voted on a circuit nominee during the last work period in early March and before that we voted on a circuit court nominee in early January. If Republicans continue to obstruct the Senate from having up-or-down votes on uncontroversial judicial nominees, at our current pace of filing cloture petitions once every month or so, we will not have time this year to vote on even those who are currently pending on the Senate floor."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/13/14
"On our agenda today are four judicial nominations – including one from Texas– and the nominee to head the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. I understand that Republican Members are asking that they all be held over so we will report them out at our next meeting."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on judicial nominee delays and filibusters
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/12/14
"[T]he last two days, we have spent unnecessary floor time overcoming procedural obstacles so that we can vote to confirm the five judicial nominations before us today. Every single one of the nominees that we will vote on today has bipartisan support and will be confirmed by significant margins. Judge Carolyn McHugh was nominated last May, while all four nominees to the Eastern District of Michigan were nominated last July. All of these nominees could and should have been confirmed before we adjourned last year. Instead, because Republicans refused to consent to hold these nominations in the Senate, and every single one had to be returned to the President at the end of last year. They then had to be re-nominated and re-processed through Committee this year and were all reported out with bipartisan support on January 16, 2014. We have not had a vote on a judicial nomination this year that was not subjected to a Republican filibuster. I appreciate very much the two Republican senators, Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski, who have voted each time to end the filibuster of judicial nominees. For other Republican senators, however, I have started to notice a pattern of voting to end filibusters only if a nominee is from a state with at least one Republican home state Senator. Most recently this happened earlier this week on the cloture vote for Judge McHugh with nine Republicans voting to end the filibuster. It should not require a judicial nominee to be from a state with one or more Republican home state senators for some senators to do the right thing. Filling vacancies so that our Federal judiciary can be fully functioning should not be a partisan issue."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/10/14
"Republicans continue to obstruct on every nomination, even though there are currently 89 Federal judicial vacancies, 34 of which have been deemed emergency vacancies by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. In stark contrast, there were only 56 judicial vacancies at the same point in President Bush's tenure. ... 31 of the 33 judicial nominees currently pending on the floor were voted out of Committee with bipartisan support. It is clear that Senate Republicans have decided to use the rules change as another excuse to further accomplish their partial government shut down."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/14
"[W]e are finally going to vote to end the filibusters of four judicial nominees to the Federal district court in Arkansas, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and California. None of these nominees is controversial. ... nominees who would normally have just gone through in a matter of weeks have been held up, and held up, and held up, and held up, for no good reason. ...Senate Republicans are just filibustering nominees for the sake of filibustering them under different rules. They refuse to consent to vote on dozens of pending noncontroversial judicial nominees, and that means these nominees sit on the floor for months, and months, and months before we have to overcome unnecessary procedural hurdles. ... These are the same people who shut down the Federal Government last year. ... They caught so much grief for this disruption that, I suppose, they do not want to have a complete shutdown of the Federal judiciary. Instead, they do it by a sort of water torture--drip, by drip, by drip. They are doing the same thing to the Federal judiciary that they did to the Federal Government, trying to close it down. It may be the case that Republicans cannot stop a noncontroversial judicial nominee from eventually receiving an up-or-down vote, but they have done a pretty darn good job of delaying five judicial nominees from filling longstanding vacancies. This kind of needless delay only hurts the American people. It is hurting the Federal judiciary. It is one of the reasons so many people in this country are angry at what happens here, when they see one thing after another delayed and slowed up."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy Statement at Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/14
"We have three judicial nominations and one executive nomination listed on our agenda. All were held over last week, and I hope that they can be reported to the Senate today by the Committee."