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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Senator Statements


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Sen. Leahy: The Senate Must Clear The Nominations Backlog
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/12/12
In a statement for the record at Wednesday’s hearing, Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) observed that the Senate remains far behind the pace set in earlier administrations in confirming judicial nominees, particularly those nominated to circuit court seats. As of Wednesday, 18 judicial nominees remain pending on the Senate calendar, including 11 that would fill emergency vacancies. Of the 18 nominations pending on the Senate floor, four circuit court nominees were reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee before the August recess. Leahy has urged the Senate to clear the backlog of nominations before the Congress adjourns later this month. “We will not begin to approach the 205 confirmations we achieved during President Bush’s first term by the end of this President’s first term nor will we reduce vacancies significantly,” Leahy said in a statement. “President Obama may be the first President to end his first term with higher judicial vacancies – due solely to obstruction – than when he became President. This is bad for our Federal courts and for the American people who depend on them for justice.” ... “It is past time to confirm this nominee,” Leahy said. “Now that Senator Vitter has indicated, after an eight-month delay, that he supports the nomination, we should expedite Senate consideration.”

Sen. Leahy Statement at Judicial Nominations Hearing
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/12/12
"Despite my solicitousness, our Republican members would not agree to move forward with the nomination of Srikanth Srinivasan to the D.C. Circuit. His nomination was received last June and I would have liked to have proceeded with his hearing without further delay. Since there will soon be four vacancies on this important court, it makes no sense to me for us to wait-especially in light of the Republican filibuster of the President's earlier nominee to this Circuit. I appreciate that the Republicans members have agreed that they will be ready to proceed on that nomination at our first confirmation hearing next month, in January of the new Congress. Regrettably, Senate Republicans continue their practice of requiring the Senate to extend consideration of nominees over two years."

Sen. Leahy: The Senate Must Consider All Pending Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/11/12
“Both of these nominees were voted out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote before the August recess and should have been confirmed months ago,” Leahy said of John Dowdell, nominated to a district court seat in Oklahoma and Jesus Bernal, nominated to a district court seat in California. “These confirmations today will demonstrate that there was no good reason for the delay—just more partisan delay for delay’s sake.” Bernal’s confirmation fills one of 34 emergency vacancies throughout the country. Of the 13 pending district court nominees on the Senate calendar, 11 would fill emergency vacancy seats. The four circuit court nominees have been pending as far back as March, and two of those, William Kayatta of Maine and Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma, enjoy the support of their Republican home state Senators. “With the American people’s reelection of President Obama there is no good purpose to be served by this further delay,” Leahy said. “But Robert Bacharach and nearly a dozen judicial nominees, who could be confirmed and who would fill four circuit court vacancies and five additional judicial emergency vacancies, are being forced to wait until next year – or perhaps forever – by the Senate Republican leadership.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On the Nomination of Judge Paul William Grimm to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
(Democrat - Vermont) 12/03/12
With just a few short weeks before the end of the year and 18 more judicial nominees still pending, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement for the Congressional Record that Senate Republicans must stop their delay tactics and follow Senate tradition by approving these nominees during the lame duck session

SJC Chairman Leahy Calls For Consideration Of Judicial Nominees In Lameduck
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/30/12
Sen. Patrick Leahy Press Release and Cong. Record Statement: Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), in a Congressional Record statement published Friday, highlighted the list of judicial nominees who have been pending on the Senate calendar as far back as March. While those nominees continue to wait, the number of judicial vacancies nationwide hovers at 80. Leahy called on Republicans to drop unfounded opposition and follow the precedent of previous lameduck sessions after presidential elections, when the Senate has confirmed every single judicial nominee reported by the Judiciary Committee, and with bipartisan support.

Senator Patrick Leahy Floor Statement On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/14/12
"Even Senate Republicans’ contorted application of the Thurmond Rule can no longer serve as any sort of rationale for inaction. Delay for delay’s sake is wrong and should end. The Senate should start by acting on the 19 judicial nominations that have been approved by the Judiciary Committee and have been awaiting final Senate action without further delay. Two months ago, the Senate recessed without taking action on 19 judicial nominations. All were supported by their home state Senators, Republican and Democratic. Almost all had bipartisan support. I cannot remember a time when the Senate refused to act on nominees with such bipartisan support. There was no precedent for the filibuster of Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma to the Tenth Circuit and that filibuster should end. After Senator Coburn failed to vote for cloture to end the filibuster of the Bacharach nomination last July, he indicated that he expected Judge Bacharach to be confirmed before the end of the year if President Obama was reelected. The junior Senator from Texas also indicated that the circuit judges would be voted on if President Obama was reelected. ... "the Republican Senators from Oklahoma have said that they support Robert Bacharach, and the Republican Senators from Maine strongly support William Kayatta. It is unprecedented to have this many consensus judicial nominees not acted upon before the election recess in a presidential election year. After the midterm election in 2002, Senate Democrats worked with Senate Republicans to confirm 20 of President Bush’s judicial nominees in one week, including 18 in just one day. Again, in 2010, the Senate proceeded to confirm 19 judicial nominees during the lameduck session after the election. Unfortunately, Republican delays in 2010 had backlogged 38 judicial nominees and the confirmations of 19 went only half-way to what we should have done. When Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were President, Senate Democrats cleared the calendar of all but the most controversial and extreme ideological judicial nominations."

Sen. Leahy on delayed confirmation of Ohio and other federal judges
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/23/12
"Leahy also complained about Senate Republicans delaying the confirmation of Obama's judicial appointments. He said it took and enormous amount of "arm-twisting" by Brown to get Benita Pearson and Jeffrey Helmick confirmed as federal judges in Ohio."

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.”

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 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."

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 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 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 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.”