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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Senator Hassan to Oppose Senator Jeff Sessions’ Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 01/31/17
“The Attorney General of the United States must be an independent defender of our Constitution who puts the rule of law before all else. After reviewing Senator Sessions’ record, his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, and reports of his influence on the development of President Trump’s backdoor Muslim ban that will make our country less safe, I do not have confidence that Senator Sessions would be an independent Attorney General who would put the rights of all Americans before the whims of this President. I will vote against Senator Sessions’ nomination and urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Senator Murray on President Trump Firing Acting Attorney General: More Important Than Ever That Justice Department Works Free From Fear of Retaliation
(Democrat - Washington) 01/31/17
"I urge President Trump to halt all retaliatory firings, and in this difficult and chaotic time, this unfortunate action is one more good reason to slow down and carefully scrutinize the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General given the questions that should be asked regarding whether he is truly ready to stand up to President Trump and defend our laws, our values, and our Constitution."

Sen. Durbin calls Trump attorney general nominee Sessions 'wrong person for job'
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/31/17
en. Dick Durbin of Illinois said Tuesday he will oppose President Donald Trump's nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for U.S. attorney general.... Durbin noted Sessions told him he did not have time to read the unclassified intelligence memo on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. "That is either willful blindness or willful ignorance on his part, not to realize the gravity of this," said Durbin, who holds the No. 2 spot in the Senate's minority party. "What happened in this presidential election on Election Day was a day that will live in cyber infamy," Durbin said. "This was an attempt by a foreign power, with values inconsistent with the United States, to change the outcome of our election specifically to benefit the current president and to defeat Hillary Clinton. "He is the wrong person for this job," Durbin said of Sessions. "We need someone with unquestioned strength, values and integrity who at that critical constitutional moment is prepared to stand up to this president, or any president, and say: 'You are wrong, and if you insist on doing this, I will resign.' I cannot picture it."

Sen. Warren opposes Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 01/31/17
"Last night, the acting Attorney General of the United States refused to defend President Trump’s unlawful and unconstitutional Muslim ban, so Donald Trump fired her. Let me repeat: the President of the United States just fired the nation’s top law enforcement officer for refusing to defend an illegal, unconstitutional and deeply immoral order. Now, the President expects the Senate to replace her with Senator Jeff Sessions – a man whose career has been defined by open hostility to civil rights, immigrants, and the rule of law. Sessions is so dangerous that a Republican-controlled Senate rejected his nomination to a federal judgeship 30 years ago. It’s time for the Senate to stand up for the Constitution and exert moral leadership. I will vote against the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well."

Sen. Cantwell to Vote “NO” on Sen. Jeff Sessions Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - Washington) 01/31/17
“I have concerns that as U.S. Attorney General and our country’s chief law enforcement officer, Senator Sessions will not protect Americans’ civil rights. In the past, Senator Sessions blocked efforts to safeguard voting rights, to protect women from domestic violence, and to expand LGBTQ rights. He opposed a woman’s right to choose and called Roe v. Wade a “colossal” mistake. He opposed sentencing and immigration reforms. His testimony on states legalizing and regulating marijuana left questions about the Trump administration’s approach to these issues. “Given his record, I am concerned that if Senator Sessions is confirmed to be U.S. Attorney General, he and the Trump administration may not uphold current protections for all Americans. Therefore, I will be voting “NO” on Senator Sessions’ confirmation.”

Sen. Shaheen Statement in Opposition to Sen. Sessions' Nomination to Serve as U.S. Attorney General
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 01/31/17
“After reviewing Senator Sessions’ extensive record, I cannot in good conscience support his nomination to serve as Attorney General,” said Shaheen. “His history of obstructing protections for minority voting rights, LGTBQ individuals, women, and criminal justice reform efforts, is very troubling. It is clear this President is intent on undermining our values as an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming nation. It’s disturbing that Senator Sessions played a key role in crafting recent executive orders, including the Muslim ban, which are antithetical to our country’s founding principles. I cannot support a nominee to serve as Attorney General who will harness the authority of the Department of Justice to support this offensive agenda.”

R.I. Sen. Reed reiterates opposition to Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 01/31/17
"On a personal and professional level, I respect Senator Sessions,'' Reed, D-R.I., said Tuesday. "We have very different views, but there is no denying he has an extensive legal background. "However, the Attorney General is our nation's chief law enforcement officer. Their job is to defend the Constitution and be an independent voice within the administration. Senator Sessions has not demonstrated sufficient willingness to push back against President Trump's unconstitutional executive overreach,'' said Reed,... "Our next Attorney General should be a champion for all Americans' civil rights and civil liberties. They should instill confidence in our judiciary and our elections, and be an impartial arbiter of the due process that is so critical to the rule of law. Therefore, I cannot support Senator Sessions' nomination to be Attorney General."

Sen. Feinstein: ‘I Must Vote No’ on Sessions
(Democrat - California) 01/31/17

Sen. Klobuchar promises "very thorough investigation" of Trump's Supreme Court nominee
(Democrat - Minnesota) 01/31/17
“We don’t know who he’s going to nominate for this job but I can tell you that, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, that we will be thoroughly vetting this person – that at a hearing there’s going to be numerous questions about their views on issues and precedent and on respect for precedent,” she said.

Sen. Cardin to Vote Against Senator Jeff Sessions Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - Maryland) 01/30/17
“As America’s top lawyer, the Attorney General plays a pivotal role in both protecting the safety and security of our nation and safeguarding the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens. Yet Senator Sessions has opposed voting rights legislation, immigration reform, the Violence Against Women Act, criminal justice and police reform, hate crimes legislation, paycheck fairness, repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and the Ramos and Liu National Blue Alert, among many others. His perspective on what should be settled law and pending legal matters has me gravely concerned. It’s unfair to the hardworking employees of the Department of Justice, who work every day to keep Americans safe from harm and protect Americans’ rights, to have an Attorney General who questions their very mission. I also have serious reservations about how Senator Sessions would advise President Trump on his harmful and cruel executive order targeting Muslims, his plan to force local law enforcement officers to help carry out federal immigration raids, or his proposal to investigate the fiction of ‘voter fraud’ instead of voter suppression and disenfranchisement in the 2016 presidential election. Senator Sessions seeks to turn back the clock on the values we hold dear and I cannot support this nomination.”

Sen. Carper Announces Opposition to Jeff Sessions Nomination
(Democrat - Delaware) 01/30/17
“Our nation’s top law enforcement official must defend the rights of all Americans, regardless of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. Over the past several weeks, overwhelmingly, hundreds of Delawareans from Wilmington to Dover to Rehoboth Beach have told me that Senator Sessions has too divisive a track record to serve all Americans as our next Attorney General. Ultimately, I have come to agree with them. “Jeff Sessions has been my colleague and friend for sixteen years. While we agree on some issues, in truth, our views on far too many important issues diverge, in some cases markedly. For example, Senator Sessions holds the same hardline views on immigration as President Trump, views that sow fear and division in our communities. He has a lifetime voting record that, on balance, is hostile to our country's landmark clean water and clean air laws. He refuses to accept the science on climate change and has opposed efforts by the EPA to curb harmful carbon pollution from our nation’s power plants. “At times, he has demonstrated hostility to landmark civil rights laws too, such as the Voting Rights Act, and has opposed legal protections for LGBT Americans. He opposes the right of women to make their own health care decisions in many instances. I believe that too many of his views are just too extreme and too often inconsistent with the Golden Rule for him to lead the Department of Justice at this critical juncture. Thus, I cannot support Senator Sessions to be our next Attorney General. “Reaching this decision does not bring me joy, but I was raised by my parents and in our church to pray for the wisdom to know what is the right thing to do. And that I have done when faced with this decision. Senator Sessions and I read the same Bible, and in the past have read it together from time to time. When we met in my office last week, we talked of how our faith guides us in our lives. I reminded him of how Matthew 25 tells us of our moral obligation ‘to the least of these’ in our society. Among other things it asks the question, ‘When I was a stranger in your land, did you take me in?’ Sadly, I have concluded that Senator Sessions does not fully share the commitment to that passage and to loving our neighbors as ourselves that I believe our nation’s Attorney General should hold, especially when it comes to providing advice and counsel to a President whose views are as extreme as many of those of Donald Trump.”

Sen. Leahy Announces He Will OPPOSE Sessions Nomination For A.G.; “I have serious doubts that Senator Sessions would be an independent Attorney General.”
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/30/17
“The Attorney General must faithfully serve all Americans. After carefully reviewing Senator Sessions’ extensive record, I am not convinced that he meets that threshold standard. So I must oppose this nomination,” Leahy said. ... Leahy sent to Sessions additional written questions about his views on the Violence Against Women Act, anti-Muslim extremist groups, Russia’s interference with the presidential election, ethics concerns with the new Trump administration. Leahy also specifically asked Sessions about his role in the drafting of President Trump’s executive orders to militarize the southern border and ban refugees from entering the country. Sessions has failed to respond to these questions. “I have serious doubts that Senator Sessions would be an independent Attorney General. There have been months of media coverage about President Trump’s many conflicts of interest and the constitutional concerns they present. Yet Senator Sessions evaded questions on this topic by claiming that he has ‘not studied the issue.’ He has failed to provide answers to many of my written questions, including questions regarding his involvement in the drafting of the anti-Muslim executive order that has already disrupted lives and our national security,” Leahy said. He concluded: “Now, more than ever, we need an independent Attorney General—one who is committed to standing up for the constitutional and statutory rights of the disenfranchised. Unfortunately I do not believe this describes Senator Sessions. For these reasons, I am not confident that Senator Sessions would be an Attorney General for all Americans. I must oppose this nomination.”

Sen. Bennet Statement Opposing Jeff Sessions Nomination
(Democrat - Colorado) 01/27/17
"The U.S. Attorney General must ensure equal justice under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Jeff Sessions has repeatedly opposed efforts to protect the rights and liberties of all Americans. I cannot support his nomination. "On a variety of issues, Senator Sessions falls short. He has blocked bipartisan efforts to expand voting rights, protect women from harassment and violence, and reform our criminal justice system. In 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators crafted principled and compassionate comprehensive immigration reform legislation, Senator Sessions was its most outspoken opponent. During that debate, he used fear and falsehoods to derail our best chance in years to fix a broken system. "This week's executive orders on immigration make clear that Senator Sessions' views will shape the Trump administration's policies. We need a chief law enforcement officer who protects the civil rights of every American, not one who perpetuates fear and undermines our obligation to ensure equal justice under the law."

Sen. Schatz To Oppose Sessions Nomination For Attorney General
(Democrat - Hawaii) 01/26/17
Senator Brian Schatz: “Our next attorney general will face critical challenges that will test our justice system and our values. We will need a leader committed to protecting the rights of every American, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation. While I respect him as a colleague, Senator Sessions is the wrong person to serve as attorney general. “Throughout Senator Sessions’ career, he has been on the wrong side of history. As a U.S. attorney and in the Senate, he failed to protect fundamental civil rights, including the right to vote. When he had the chance to protect equal rights for LGBTQ Americans and help reform a racially biased and outdated sentencing system, he refused to do so. When the Department of Justice worked to end racial discrimination and the use of excessive force by police, he stood in opposition. And when confronted with the reality of the president’s inhumane plan to deport undocumented children who call the United States home, he showed zero empathy. “Time and time again, when presented with the opportunity to advocate for the central mission of the Justice Department – pursuing equal justice for all – Senator Sessions fell short. “The Department of Justice needs a leader who can fully commit to protecting democracy and civil rights for all Americans, and build on our country’s foundation as a nation of immigrants. Senator Sessions is not that leader.”

Sen. Mark Warner Announces Opposition to Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - Virginia) 01/26/17
Sen. Mark R. Warner: “I respect Sen. Sessions’ service to Alabama and to the nation, but I cannot support his nomination to serve as U.S. Attorney General. “Sen. Sessions’ opposition to bipartisan, commonsense policies relating to voting rights, anti-discrimination, domestic violence protections and criminal justice reform, among others, have resulted in thousands of Virginians voicing significant concerns about this nomination. I share their concerns. “Attorney General is one of the most important positions in a president’s Cabinet, tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the civil rights of all Americans. Sen. Sessions’ long record in opposition to these ideals gives me concern that he is not the right person to serve as Attorney General.”

After Senator Sessions Fails To Provide Clear Answers, Senator Leahy Demands Answers From AG Nominee
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/25/17
Senator Patrick Leahy on Wednesday released additional written questions to Senator Jeff Sessions after the Attorney General nominee failed to directly answer Leahy’s questions about his views on the Violence Against Women Act, anti-Muslim extremist groups, Russia’s interference with the presidential election, ethics concerns with the new Trump administration, and other matters. Today’s follow up comes days after Senator Sessions failed to provide clear answers to written questions, refusing even to say whether he considered VAWA’s constitutionality to be “reasonably defensible.” Sessions’ other responses on whether he would follow established recusal standards as Attorney General raised serious concerns about his independence. “Our nation’s chief law enforcement officer must be independent and fair. Senator Sessions’ failure to provide direct answers to my written questions raises serious concerns that he would not be an independent Attorney General. The Judiciary Committee must have answers before we consider this important nomination,” Leahy said.

Sen. Feinstein Requests Delay on Sessions Vote, Links Nomination to Weekend Marches
(Democrat - California) 01/24/17
"This nomination is a very big deal. On Sunday, we received 188 pages of responses to questions submitted for the record following the Sessions hearing. ... In addition, we’ve been told that some members may have follow up questions they would like to submit....ensuring equal rights for all, upholding voting rights for all, demanding equal pay for equal work, maintaining worker’s rights and protecting our environment. It is these principles, these values, that the attorney general must defend. ... Many, many millions of Americans are deeply concerned about what the future will bring. That’s a hallmark of what happened this past Saturday in the march. The least we can do is tell them that we’re being as careful as possible in who we place in charge of making these important decisions. For every woman and man who marched over the weekend, we owe it to them."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Announces Opposition to Sessions Nomination
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 01/24/17
“I have reviewed Senator Sessions’s career as an attorney and in public office, as well as his testimony before the Judiciary Committee. I have reflected on my time as an Attorney General and U.S. Attorney in Rhode Island, where my job was to enforce the law faithfully with compassion and independence. I have also listened closely to serious concerns from Rhode Islanders, who have made it plain that they fear what Jeff Sessions could do as head of the Justice Department. For every constituent of mine who has expressed support of his nomination, fifteen have expressed opposition. “Senator Sessions’s record is clear. He has fought against fixing our immigration system to keep millions of vital workers in our economy and protect families from being torn apart. He abandoned even his fellow Republicans to vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. He has, on numerous occasions, used racially charged or downright offensive rhetoric to belittle and marginalize broad groups of Americans, including Rhode Island’s wonderful Dominican community. He has demonstrated open hostility for bedrock civil rights laws, and failed repeatedly to distance himself from hate groups that hold him up as a champion of their values. In my questioning of him during his confirmation hearing, Senator Sessions cast doubt on whether someone with religious views that differ from his can understand the truth. The job demands and Rhode Islanders expect our Attorney General to be a fierce defender of our constitutional rights and equal justice under law. Jeff Sessions’s record casts such serious doubt on whether he can perform that role that I cannot support his nomination.”

Sen. McCaskill troubled by Sessions voting record & decisions he might make as AG
(Democrat - Missouri) 01/23/17
[D]uring a Monday morning interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. ... McCaskill says she hasn’t decided whether or not she’ll support him, but is troubled by his voting record. During the MSNBC interview she said, based on that record, she’s concerned over decisions Sessions might make as the nation’s chief prosecutor. “It is not as simple as saying ‘I’m going to enforce the law’. Discretion is the power of a prosecutor. They don’t call 911 on crimes. The Attorney General gets to decide where they use their resources. And the fact that Jeff Sessions would be exercising that discretion worries me a great deal.”

Sen. Stabenow Meets with Sessions, Says She Cannot Support His Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - Michigan) 01/19/17
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a statement after meeting with Senator Jeff Sessions, President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice: “Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Jeff Sessions and ask some tough questions about his nomination to lead the Department of Justice. Because of his record on civil rights and his votes against anti-domestic violence legislation, I cannot support him to be our nation’s highest law enforcement officer. Families in Michigan and across the country deserve an Attorney General who will enforce the nation’s laws fairly and equally.”

Sen. Van Hollen [opposes Sen. Sessions Attorney General nomination]
(Democrat - Maryland) 01/19/17
"The Attorney General holds a very special position in our democracy, serving as a champion for the people and a defender of those whose only power lies in their rights under the law and in our Constitution. Nominees must be judged based on whether their life's work demonstrates a commitment to meeting the mission of the office they are asked to lead. The Latin motto on the Department of Justice's seal refers to the Attorney General as the one ‘who prosecutes on behalf of justice.’ The Attorney General must be the people’s lawyer and be zealous in the pursuit of justice for all Americans. After reviewing the record of Senator Sessions, I am not convinced that he will be a vigorous defender of the rights of all Americans, especially those who have fallen victim to the powerful or the status quo. Long before I considered running for elected office myself, I had the honor of working for Senator Mac Mathias of Maryland. In 1986, despite being a member of the Republican Party, Senator Mathias was one of the deciding votes against then U.S. Attorney Sessions' nomination for a federal judgeship. Since then, Senator Sessions’ statements and actions have done little to reassure Americans. On the contrary, his record of words and deeds -- with respect to civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of individuals with disabilities -- reveal that he too often sides with the powerful and the status quo rather than standing up for justice for all. We need an Attorney General who will apply the law to make more real the promise of equal rights and equal justice in America, and the record to date indicates that Senator Sessions fails to meet that important test. In addition, I am deeply troubled by the positions Senator Sessions has taken on issues related to immigration reform and I am not persuaded that he would be an independent check on an incoming President who has made clear that he is prepared to trample the rights of immigrants and religious minorities. For all these reasons, while I respect Senator Sessions' record of service to his state in the Senate for 20 years, I do not believe he should serve as our next Attorney General."

(Democrat - Minnesota) 01/18/17
“The President-elect’s high-level meetings last week underscore the importance of your commitment to ensuring the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and I am asking the following questions to further explore your position on antitrust enforcement,” Klobuchar wrote. “What are the appropriate factors the Department of Justice should consider in deciding whether to bring an antitrust action? Would you please elaborate on your statement ‘there will not be political influence in the [antitrust enforcement] process’?,” Klobuchar continued. “Traditionally, the White House has not been involved in antitrust enforcement decisions. In your view, should the President have any communication about or involvement in antitrust cases?”

Sen. Casey Announces Voting Decision On Three Top Cabinet Nominees: DeVos, Sessions, and Pruitt All To Receive “No” Vote From PA Senator
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 01/18/17
On Sessions: “I met with Senator Sessions and expressed to him my substantial concerns regarding his nomination to serve as our next Attorney General. On the critically important issue of voting rights, we have a fundamental disagreement on legislation to protect these voting rights. Senator Sessions and I discussed the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder at length. Senator Sessions celebrated the decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that certain states and jurisdictions with histories of discrimination seek preclearance from the federal government before changing voting rules. Yet, more than half of these so-called preclearance states have implemented restrictive voting laws after the Shelby decision, some of which were proposed the very next day after it was handed down, and over 800 polling places in these states alone were closed since the decision as well. As a cosponsor of legislation to restore preclearance requirements, I believe Democrats and Republicans have an obligation to come together to ensure that all Americans have the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. In addition, Senator Sessions’ vote against a non-binding amendment simply expressing the sense of the Senate that immigrants should not be banned from this country based on their religion is offensive. After reviewing his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his Senate record, his record as a prosecutor and meeting with him, I will vote against his nomination to be our next Attorney General.”

Senate Judiciary Democrats to Jeff Sessions: Don’t Block Russia Hack Investigation
(Democrat - California) 01/17/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and all committee Democrats today called on Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), nominee for attorney general, to allow investigations of Russia hacking to proceed and to recuse himself from those proceedings. The letter poses two questions to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the nominee to become attorney general: “Will you commit not to impede or shut down any FBI or Justice Department investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election?” “Will you commit to recuse yourself from any FBI or Justice Department investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election?” Full text of the letter follows:

Sen. Leahy Releases Follow Up Questions To AG Nominee Sessions. . . Written Questions Sent Tuesday Focus On Violence Against Women Act, Conflicts Of Interest
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/17/17
Additionally on Tuesday, all nine Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee sent the nominee a letter [LINK] calling on him to allow investigations of Russia hacking to proceed and to recuse himself from those proceedings if he is confirmed. Senator Leahy’s written questions to Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions can be found online.

Sen. Heitkamp concerns about Jeff Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - North Dakota) 01/14/17
[Sen. Jeff Sessions] voted against VAWA when it was reauthorized in 2013, when new provisions were included that made it easier to prosecute domestic violence against Native American women. “I’m really concerned about the position he took,” Heitkamp ... said in an interview. “The reason he gave was not very knowledgeable about what happens in Indian country and the Indian jurisdiction.” Heitkamp said she plans to follow up with Sessions to clarify his position regarding VAWA, which came up several times during his marathon confirmation hearing this week.