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Senator Statements

 

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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"

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement: NOMINATION OF JOHN B. OWENS TO BE UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
(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."

Sen. Leahy: SJC Continues Its Work
(Democrat - Vermont) 03/06/14
"The Committee also approved three judicial nominations on Thursday including one nominee, Robin Rosenbaum, who would fill an emergency vacancy on the 11th Circuit. The Committee also approved the nomination of Leslie Caldwell to be the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice."

Sen. Leahy on blue slips, hearings, and pending Georgia and Arizona federal judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/27/14
Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who leads the committee, said he intended to schedule confirmation hearings once the necessary reports were in hand. “If the president sends up a nominee, they ought to at least get a hearing, and we will see where we go from there,” said Mr. Leahy, who said he has made no decision on the nominations. “I am not committed one way or the other,” he said. “The deal is with the president, not me.” ... “We could do away with the blue slip tomorrow, and it would not change a thing,” Mr. Leahy said. “Nominees opposed by home-state senators will not get through.” Mr. Leahy said while the negotiations might be difficult, they could produce results as in the case of six Arizona judicial nominees approved Thursday by the Judiciary Committee after an agreement between the administration and Republican Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Sen. Leahy: SJC Approves Six Judicial Nominees To Fill Emergency Vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/27/14
“Federal district court judges handle the vast majority of the caseload of the Federal courts and are critical to making sure our courts remain available to provide a fair hearing for all Americans,” Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “I expect that this diverse group of judicial nominees will be confirmed now that they have been reported out of Committee and have the support of their home state Senators. The progress we made today in the committee to move these nominations forward would not have occurred without the support of Senator McCain and Senator Flake. I thank them for their support today and I hope the Senate quickly confirms these nominees who are urgently needed in the state of Arizona.”

Chairman Leahy statement at Senate Judiciary Executive Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/27/14
"We have nine judicial nominees and one executive nominee on today’s agenda. The six Arizona district court nominees to fill judicial emergency vacancies are ready to be reported out. One of these Arizona nominees will become the first Native American woman ever to serve on the Federal bench and another is a Latina who was nominated more than two years ago. I am glad we will make progress on them today and look forward to their confirmation votes. I thank Senators McCain and Flake for their work. I understand that the Republicans want to hold over the other nominees today. I expect we will report them out next week."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on pending judicial nominees and vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/25/14
"I would like to thank the majority leader and the Democratic floor staff for taking the necessary steps to confirm the four judicial nominees we have just confirmed between last night and today. I am sure the people in Connecticut, Arkansas, and California are thankful that their districts now have judges to help alleviate the heavy caseload in those districts and that they will now be able to have their cases decided in a more expeditious manner. There are 28 more judicial nominees still currently pending on the Executive Calendar in States such as Tennessee, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, and Wisconsin. I hope Senate Republicans will not continue to politicize the filling of judicial vacancies. Americans in those States want a functioning Federal judiciary at full capacity so they can seek and obtain justice in an expeditious manner."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on James Donato district court nomination and emergency vacancies
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/25/14
"I have heard from my friends on the Republican side that we should be concerned about emergency vacancies. This is an emergency vacancy. He was reported out unanimously for the first time last October. He had to be reported out a second time this year--again, unanimously. He has the strong support of the two Senators from California. So holding up and having a filibuster and going through all of that on this nomination is the kind of game playing that hurts the Federal judiciary. It is almost like the efforts made by our friends on the other side in closing down the government last year, and this is just a slow way to close down the Federal judiciary."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on James M. Moody, Jr. district court nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/24/14
"[T]his is just one more of those judges who passed unanimously from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Every Republican, every Democrat voted for him. He has been held up and delayed by Republicans who, I am afraid, are trying to do the same to the Federal judiciary they did to the Federal Government by closing it down."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement on Republican filibusters of judicial nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/24/14
"I have heard more pettifoggery and balderdash on the other side this evening than I could imagine. The fact of the matter is this. The Republican Party--and many of them are dear friends of mine--orchestrated a partial shutdown of the government last year. It cost the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and ... stopped cancer research and a number of other things. Now they are trying the same thing with the Federal judiciary by taking judges who had passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and doing what the Republicans did with the very first nominee of President Obama who came up. They filibustered it--something that had not been done ever in my 40 years here with either Republican or Democratic presidents--ever. This was a judge supported by the most senior Republican in the Senate. Shortly after that, the Republican leader said his primary goal was for President Obama to fail. Unfortunately for them, he didn't. He was reelected resoundingly. But they have now achieved a partial shutdown of the Federal judiciary by blocking these judges. It is balderdash and pettifoggery."

Floor Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/24/14
". Because of Republican obstruction we are again wasting precious time to overcome procedural hurdles just to have an up-or-down vote on these worthy nominees. I began the year expressing my hope that we would set aside our differences and do what is best for this country by confirming qualified nominees to fill critical vacancies facing our Federal Judiciary. Instead, it appears that Senate Republicans have decided to double down and to further exhaust every means of delay at their disposal, even when a nominee is supported by those on both sides of the aisle and supported by both home state senators. ... This is the case even though there are currently 96 judicial vacancies, 39 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. The comparison is even more troubling when you consider the 32 judicial nominees currently pending on the Executive Calendar. We could lower the number of judicial vacancies today to 64 if Senate Republicans would consent to voting on the pending nominees. We have not had fewer than 70 vacancies since May 2009, more than 4 years ago."

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.”