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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Senator Statements

 

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Sen. Heitkamp Meets with U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - North Dakota) 02/08/17
“One of the most important roles of a U.S. senator is to vet nominees to fill vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court through meetings and Senate hearings, and I take that job very seriously,” said Heitkamp. “Unfortunately, Senate Republicans broke tradition and historical precedent in refusing to give Judge Merrick Garland the full and fair consideration he deserved when he was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, forcing his nomination to languish for almost 300 days – by far the longest that a Supreme Court nomination has been held open. Unlike my colleagues, I believe my duty of advice and consent in these matters remains the same regardless of which party is in the White House – it is our job as U.S. Senators to perform this function and not play politics. That’s why I met with Judge Gorsuch today, and I appreciate him taking the time to come by my office. We had a thorough conversation about the importance of the rule of law and of a judiciary that is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government. We also talked about Indian law and treaties, fixing our criminal justice system, and empathy on the bench—a fundamental trait when the poor and underprivileged in North Dakota and beyond don’t have the same access to the courts as those who are better off.”

Sen. McCaskill Meets Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - Missouri) 02/08/17
Senator Claire McCaskill, a former Jackson County Prosecutor, today met with Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee—and released the following statement: “I was glad for the opportunity to sit down with Judge Gorsuch and hear more about his record and his views, and I’m looking forward to seeing his confirmation hearing."

Sen. Stabenow on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 02/07/17
“I have deep concerns about Judge Gorsuch and the impact his rulings would have on Michigan families,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Although Republicans for over a year refused to do their job and blocked the previous Supreme Court nominee, I take my responsibilities as a senator seriously and plan to meet with him and thoroughly review his record.”

SEN. TESTER MEETS WITH SUPREME COURT NOMINEE NEIL GORSUCH
(Democrat - Montana) 02/06/17
"Every Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair shake, and the same goes for Judge Gorsuch. We had a productive meeting, and I will continue to review his qualifications and get feedback from Montanans about his nomination to our nation's top court. As I continue to review his body of work, I will be looking to ensure he understands Montana and our challenges, as well as the Constitution and that he is committed to protecting our freedoms." Following the meeting, Tester expressed concerns about Gorsuch's record on women's access to health care. In the meeting, Tester also questioned Gorsuch on a series of topics that are likely to come before the court, including corporate influence in campaigns, civil liberties, and protecting Montana's clean air and water.

Sen. Sanders: Gorsuch needs 60 votes to pass the Senate
(Independent - Vermont) 02/05/17
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday said that President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, should not win confirmation unless he can muster 60 votes. “This is a major, major nomination. It should require 60 votes and a very serious debate,” Sanders said ... “Obama’s nominations required 60 votes. So should Trump’s,” Sanders added. “What this Supreme Court decision is about is whether or not we continue Citizens United and allow billionaires to buy elections. It’s whether or not we continue Roe v. Wade and allow a woman to control her own body,” he argued.... Jake Tapper asked Sanders whether he would support Democratic colleague Jeff Merkley (Ore.), who wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Gorsuch needs 60 votes. “Absolutely,” Sanders replied. Schumer has also called for a 60-vote threshold for Gorsuch. “On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support should be a prerequisite, it should be essential,” he said.

Sen. Leahy Comment On Partisan Attacks On The Federal Judiciary
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/04/17
“We need an Attorney General, like Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, willing to lose his or her job to do the right thing. And we need a nominee for the Supreme Court willing to demonstrate he or she will not cower to an overreaching executive. This makes it even more important that Judge Gorsuch, and every other judge this president may nominate, demonstrates the ability to be an independent check and balance on an administration that shamefully and harmfully seems to reject the very concept.”

Sen. Nelson unsure about Gorsuch for high court
(Democrat - Florida) 02/02/17
After a bland, non-committal statement Tuesday night minutes after President Donald Trump unveiled Gorsuch, Nelson turned more negative on the Colorado judge Thursday. “Of course, I’m going to talk to him and listen to the Judiciary Committee hearing,” Nelson said in the more recent statement issued by his office. “But I have real concerns about what I believe are two of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: the right to vote and the right to know who you are voting for,” he continued. “And I specifically want to know how the judge feels about the suppression of voting rights and about the amount of undisclosed, unlimited money in campaigns.”

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement: Nomination of Neil Gorsuch [and 60 vote margin]
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/02/17
[S627] "Even though my Republican colleagues chose to ignore their responsibilities when it came to filling that Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, I know we have a constitutional responsibility to give Judge Gorsuch a hearing and a vote.... He was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006, but the level of scrutiny is far higher for Supreme Court nominees and lifetime appointments to the High Court. He now has a lengthy judicial record which we will review carefully. There are parts of his record that already raise questions and concerns. In recent years, we have watched the Supreme Court transform into a corporate Court, where all too often cases seem to break for the big corporations, regularly against the little guy. We need a Supreme Court that gives the American people a fair shot against corporate elites, corporate special interests. Judge Gorsuch's record as a judge and advocate raises concerns as to whether he would hasten that trend toward a corporate court.... Judge Gorsuch appears to have a consistent pattern of favoring companies over workers in cases involving employment discrimination, worker safety, and other matters. ... Is he going to bend toward the corporate interests and look the other way as we face climate change, the pollution of streams, the contamination of our drinking water, and dangers to our public health? ... Since the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, Supreme Court Justices have had to show they can pass the threshold of 60 votes to get confirmed. I expect nothing less from this nominee."

Sen. Baldwin will vote no on Trump pick Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 02/02/17
Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said Thursday she would oppose President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Baldwin asserted that Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Colorado, did not have a “mainstream record,” and she cited judicial rulings of his on cases involving disabled students, workers and women’s reproductive health. “It’s a record that is going to make it hard for Trump and (Gorsuch) to earn bipartisan support,” said Baldwin. “I think the American people deserve an independent Supreme Court Justice who is going to protect constitutional rights,” she said. Baldwin also said she would not be one of the 60 votes Gorsuch would need to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

Sen. Schumer Floor Statement: NOMINATION OF NEIL GORSUCH [& 60 vote threshold]
(Democrat - New York) 02/02/17
"We in the Senate have a constitutional duty to examine the record of Judge Gorsuch robustly, exhaustively, and comprehensively, and then advise and consent, as we see fit. We have a responsibility to reject if we do not. We Democrats will insist on a rigorous but fair process. Part of that process entails 60 votes for confirmation. Any one Democrat can require it. Many already have. It was a bar met by each of Obama's nominations; each received 60 votes. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do. And I would note that a 60-vote threshold was reached by each of them either in cloture or in the actual vote. On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support is essential and should be a prerequisite. That is what a 60- vote threshold does; 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate. And the need for a mainstream consensus candidate is greater now than ever before because we are in major new territory in two ways. First, because the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roberts, has shown increasing drift to become a more and more pro-business Court-- siding more and more with corporations, employers, and special interests over working and average Americans--we need a mainstream nominee to help reverse that trend, not accelerate it.... Second, given that this administration--at least at its outset--seems to have less respect for the rule of law than any in recent memory and is testing the very fabric of our Constitution within the first 20 days, there is a special burden on this nominee to be an independent jurist, someone who approaches the Court without ideological blinders, who has a history of operating outside and above politics, and who has the strength of will to stand up to a President who has already shown a willingness to bend the Constitution.... Changing the rules for something as important as the Supreme Court gets rid of the tradition, eliminates the tradition of mainstream nominees who have bipartisan support. It would be so, so wrong to do. I know many of my colleagues on the other side are hesitant to do it, and I hope they will remain strong in that regard."

Sen. Carper Floor Statement on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination & 60 vote margin
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/02/17
"I think the way Merrick Garland was treated was outrageous, and he was roundly praised by Democrats and Republican, Members of this body, alike. The fact that he never got a vote I think is appalling. It runs against everything I was taught to believe. ... Two wrongs don't make a right. Folks on our side believe--although deeply troubled by the way the last nominee for the last administration was treated--this nominee deserves a hearing. My hope is that he gets one and there is time set aside to prepare for that hearing. My hope is that he will take the time to come and meet with us, particularly those of us who have concerns about his nomination. I think he should be subject to the same 60-vote margin the last several Supreme Court nominees were subjected to and passed; I think in one case it was 62 votes, and in another case, 63 votes."

Sen. Hirono Floor Statement on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Hawaii) 02/01/17
" By firing Sally Yates, the President demonstrated once again that he values loyalty to himself above service to the American people and adherence to the Constitution. This is particularly disturbing as we begin to consider the President's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to sit on the Supreme Court. I am only beginning to scrutinize Judge Gorsuch's record, but I am very concerned that he will be a rubberstamp for President Trump's radical agenda. You don't have to take my word for it. You only have to listen to what the President has been saying over the past 2 years. In June 2015, then-Candidate Trump told CNN's Jake Tapper that he would apply a pro-life litmus test for his nominees to the Supreme Court. He did it again at a press conference last March, during the third Presidential debate, and shortly after his election. This isn't the only litmus test President Trump promised to apply. In February 2016, President Trump committed to appointing a Justice who would allow businesses and individuals to deny women access to health care on the basis of so-called religious freedom. In February 2016, President Trump told Joe Scarborough he would make upholding the Heller decision on guns another litmus test for his Supreme Court nominee. Like tens of millions of Americans, I am deeply concerned that President Trump applied each of these tests before he nominated Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. In the weeks and months ahead, I will carefully and extensively scrutinize Judge Gorsuch's record. I will question him on his judicial philosophy and how he interprets the Constitution. I will insist he clarify his position on a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose, on voting rights, and the appropriate balance between corporate interests and individual rights. I will do my job as a United States Senator. The American people deserve nothing less from each of us."

Sen. Peters Statement on President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee
(Democrat - Michigan) 02/01/17
“Just as President Obama did, President Trump has a constitutional responsibility to nominate Justices to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, and the U.S. Senate has a constitutional responsibility to consider those nominees. For 293 days, Senate Republicans failed to fulfill that duty by denying President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, the same thorough and public consideration process that they are now urging for President Trump’s nominee. “I take very seriously the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent on all nominees, and every individual who could be serving on our nation’s highest court deserves to be fully vetted. As President Trump’s nominee moves through the judicial hearing process, I will be carefully reviewing his qualifications to serve on the Supreme Court, which is a pillar of American democracy.”

Sen. Klobuchar Statement on the President’s Nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court
(Democrat - Minnesota) 02/01/17
“Senators have a solemn obligation to advise and consent on a President’s nominee for the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court makes decisions that affect the lives of people across the country. We need to thoroughly examine Judge Gorsuch, his respect for precedent, and his views on issues that matter to the American people. I have concerns about his views and record on issues including those involving separation of powers, campaign finance, and consumer protection. This nominee deserves serious scrutiny. And to be clear, there is a 60 vote threshold for this nominee to be confirmed, it’s not 51 like the other nominees that are before us now.”

Sen. Heinrich on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - New Mexico) 02/01/17
“After ignoring Judge Garland’s nomination for purely partisan reasons, Senate Republicans are already talking about changing the Senate rules to confirm Trump's nominee if Democrats don’t simply defer. “Given the current climate in Washington, any nominee to the nation’s highest court must have an unshaken commitment to the rule of law, separation of powers, and the rights enshrined in the Constitution. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, and Judge Gorsuch must be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny. "New Mexicans have made it clear to me that now more than ever they want an independent judiciary committed to defending the Constitution and the rule of law. I agree and any nomination to the highest court in the land should require more than a simple majority vote to ensure as much."

Sen. McCaskill on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination and potential filibuster
(Democrat - Missouri) 02/01/17
"I believe any nominee to the Supreme Court deserves a confirmation hearing, and the chance to earn 60 votes on the Senate floor," adding that she was going to take a "hard look" at Gorsuch's views and record.

Sen. Coons on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination and potential filibuster
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/01/17
Coons told reporters Wednesday morning that he is only in favor of calling for a vote on Gorsuch in the Senate Judiciary Committee and would not commit to supporting a floor vote at this early stage. “I think we’ll get to that,” he said, when asked whether he supports holding a vote on ending an expected Democratic filibuster. “He should get a hearing and vote [in] committee.” Coons said it was “a misunderstanding” to characterize his position as supporting an up-or-down, simple-majority vote on the Senate floor. He said that Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has announced Democrats will require a 60-vote threshold for Gorsuch, something he did not disagree with. “It is a 60-vote threshold vote, that is what it is,” he said. ... “There’s been a lot of back and forth about what a filibuster means for a Supreme Court nomination. Here’s my understanding. It doesn’t mean that we go to the floor and get out the cots and stay there and talk for 26 hours. It is simply a question of whether there is or isn’t a 60-vote threshold,” he said.

Sen. Donnelly Statement on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/01/17
“As I have said part of our job as Senators includes considering, debating, and voting on judicial nominations, including to the Supreme Court. I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Neil Gorsuch.”

Senator Gillibrand Statement On President Trump's Nomination Of Judge Neil Gorsuch To U.S. Supreme Court
(Democrat - New York) 02/01/17
“All branches of the federal government should stand on the side of the citizens they were created to serve. The Supreme Court is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter of justice for our citizens. Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch has proven to have a judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream and time and again has subjugated individual rights to those of corporations. I fundamentally disagree with his ruling that a boss should be able to make family planning decisions for an employee and that corporations are people. I plan to stand up for individuals over corporations and oppose his nomination, and I will insist that his nomination meet a traditional 60 vote threshold.”

Sen. Tester Statement on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Montana) 02/01/17
"In the coming weeks, I will be thoroughly reviewing the qualifications of President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch. It's critically important that he has an understanding of the Constitution and is willing to defend it. I look forward to sitting down with Judge Gorsuch, looking him in the eye, asking him tough questions, and finding out if he shares our Montana values."

Sen. Warren Floor Statement on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 02/01/17
"Billionaires and corporate giants have launched a full-scale attack on fair-minded, mainstream judges. It has happened at every level of our judiciary, but the best example was the unprecedented blockade of Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court.... The nomination of Judge Gorsuch is a huge gift to the giant corporations and wealthy individuals who have stolen a Supreme Court seat in order to make sure that the justice system works for them. ...We cannot stand down when the President of the United States hands our highest Court over to the highest bidder, and that is why I will oppose Judge Gorsuch's nomination."

Sen. Duckworth on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/31/17
“I take seriously my constitutional responsibility as a United States Senator to evaluate Judge Gorsuch’s qualifications for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. over the coming weeks, I will thoroughly assess his rulings and writings on a range of issues, particularly on civil and disability rights. “While I will reserve judgment on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination until his confirmation hearing in order to give my decision the diligence it deserves, I am troubled by his judicial record of undermining the federal government’s ability to protect labor and environmental rights, his hostility toward a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices, and by one of his previous ruling that refused to hold law enforcement accountable for excessive force that led to a young man’s death. I am also concerned by several of Judge Gorsuch’s rulings that would deny students with disabilities the right to a quality public education. “It is vital that the Supreme Court serve as an independent, objective check on the president and Congress. Judge Gorsuch must prove he can fulfill that duty.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Nevada) 01/31/17
"I take my responsibility in the Senate as a check and balance on the president's agenda very seriously, and I believe Judge Neil Gorsuch's views on the issues and his full record deserves to be intensely scrutinized."

Sen. Stabenow on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 01/31/17
"I mean, first of all, let`s start with the fact that all of President Obama`s Supreme Court nominees were voted in with over 60 votes. And so from my standpoint we need to have a 60-vote threshold just to make sure the person is mainstream. This is the highest court in the land. It affects every man, woman, child, working people, every community that I represent, every family in Michigan. So I want to see a 60-vote threshold, because I think that`s what it deserves. When we change the rules, or had to change the rules in order to make sure the president actually got his cabinet, because of all of the obstruction going on, we purposefully did not change the threshold for the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, because this is the place where people need to come together, you need to have a mainstream pick, this is about somebody who is going to uphold the constitution and not be ideologically extreme one way or the other. And you do that with 60 votes. So that`s where I`m coming from. I have great concerns about this nominee. I`ll listen. I`ll meet with him. The cases I`ve seen that he has ruled on I`m very concerned about, but I think the biggest thing is that it needs to be a coming together. And you do that with 60 votes."

Sen. Carper on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Delaware) 01/31/17
"Given President Trump’s actions in defiance of our Constitution and our values during these early moments of his administration, I will also insist that Judge Gorsuch meet and exceed the highest bar before being approved by the United States Senate," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. "My Democratic colleagues will insist on a fair, open and transparent process, and I implore my Republican colleagues to remember that minority rights must be preserved to prevent further politicization of the judiciary."

Sen. Casey on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 01/31/17
“The Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roberts, has moved far outside the mainstream and has too often favored big corporations at the expense of our workers and middle class families. I am concerned that far right groups presented an edict to Donald Trump when he was a candidate, demanding that he select a nominee from their approved list. These same organizations have pushed for legal rulings that rig the system in favor of big corporations and against workers, stacking the deck against everyday Pennsylvanians. “The Supreme Court plays a role of unique importance in our democracy and therefore nominees require substantial scrutiny. I will thoroughly review Judge Gorsuch’s record, particularly his appellate decisions and his answers to questions during the hearing and those submitted in writing afterward.”

Sen. Durbin on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/31/17
“Only 12 days into this administration, we’ve already seen unlawful executive orders blocked by a federal court, and the unprecedented dismissal of an Attorney General for disagreeing with the president. I believe the independence of our judicial system, and especially the Supreme Court, is more critical now than at any time in recent history. That is the context in which I will review this nomination. I will meet with Judge Gorsuch and support a hearing and a vote for him — both of which were denied to an eminently qualified nominee presented by President Obama. The American people need to know what they can expect from this nominee, and that he will protect our fundamental constitutional rights on issues like voting rights, immigration, privacy, and women’s health. In recent years, the court’s decisions have shifted dramatically toward big money corporate interests at the expense of American workers and small businesses — we need a Court that is on the side of Main Street, not Wall Street. This Supreme Court seat does not belong to President Trump or to any political party. It belongs to the American people, and I will work to make sure their voices are heard in this debate.”

SEN. SHERROD BROWN ANNOUNCES OPPOSITION TO GORSUCH; Senator: Supreme Court Must Put Families over Wall St. – Gorsuch Doesn’t Pass that Test
(Democrat - Ohio) 01/31/17
“The people of Ohio deserve Supreme Court Justices who will defend the rights of working families over Wall Street and corporate special interests – and Judge Gorsuch’s record doesn’t pass that test,” Brown said. “I cannot support any nominee who does not recognize that corporations are not people. The Supreme Court has enormous influence over the lives of everyday Ohioans, and any nominee must be willing to defend their rights to make their own healthcare decisions, collectively bargain for safe workplaces and fair pay, and to be protected from discrimination and Wall Street greed.”

Sen. Wyden Statement on Nomination of Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court
(Democrat - Oregon) 01/31/17
“The Gorsuch nomination represents a breathtaking retreat from the notion that Americans have a fundamental right to Constitutional liberties, and harkens back to the days when politicians restricted a people’s rights on a whim,” Wyden said. “His opposition to legal death with dignity as successfully practiced in Oregon is couched in the sort of jurisprudence that justified the horrific oppression of one group after another in our first two centuries. No Senator who believes that individual rights are reserved to the people, and not the government, can support this nomination.”