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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Donnelly has concerns about Jeff Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - Indiana) 01/14/17
Donnelly has “concerns” about Sessions’ nomination, an aide said. The Indiana senator met with Sessions on Thursday.

Sen. McCaskill "just not sure" she can vote for Jeff Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - Missouri) 01/14/17
McCaskill said she has to figure out whether she can “get there” on voting for Sessions and “I’m just not sure I can.” “I’m really worried about a lot of his votes. [His vote] against the Violence Against Women Act is really concerning to me,” McCaskill said. “I mean, the Department of Justice has taken such a leadership role on that issue over the years, and him voting no on it, you know, it’s just hard for me to get past that.”

Sen. Kamala Harris will vote against Jeff Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - California) 01/14/17
"I have deep concerns about Jeff Sessions ability to defend the rights of all Americans -- I will be voting against his confirmation. We need an Attorney General committed to equal rights for all, including women, people of color, and the LGBT community. It is clear after his confirmation hearings that person is not Jeff Sessions, and that is why I oppose his confirmation as AG. If you agree, please add your name to our petition calling on my Senate colleagues to oppose Sessions as well:

(Democrat - Wisconsin) 01/13/17
“America has made great progress over the last eight years with an Administration that has taken seriously a shared responsibility to pass on to the next generation a country that is more equal, not less equal. “Every American citizen deserves a government that is as good as they are and they are right to demand that our Attorney General, and our Department of Justice, are committed to the principle that racism, discrimination, and hate-based crimes will not be tolerated in America. All Americans also deserve a strong commitment from our Attorney General, America’s top law enforcement official, to act on violence borne out of hatred based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic. It’s also very important to me that we have an Attorney General who will be a strong supporter of constitutional rights. At a time when voting rights and the constitutional right of women to make their own, personal reproductive health care decisions are under attack across our country, we need an Attorney General who will stay true to these constitutional freedoms and not be driven by politics. “For me, the vote on Senator Jeff Sessions’ confirmation to be our next United States Attorney General is a moral choice guided by my strong belief that all Americans deserve equal opportunity and the freedom to pursue their hopes and dreams. That is the promise of America and I have committed myself and my life’s work to make sure we keep it. After meeting with Senator Sessions, I cannot support his confirmation to be our next Attorney General because I don’t have faith that he shares these beliefs and that he will embrace these commitments, and our shared responsibility to move our nation forward for all Americans.”

Sens. Klobuchar, Franken will say no to AG nominee Sessions
(Democrat - Minnesota) 01/13/17
"His record and views on critical issues of justice including the Violence Against Women Act, immigration, voting rights and freedom of the press have led me to conclude that I cannot support his nomination," Klobuchar said in a statement to the Star Tribune today. "The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was supported by the vast majority of senators as well as every Democratic and Republican woman senator ... Sen. Sessions voted against it."

Sen. Franken "will be voting no on Senator Sessions for attorney general."
(Democrat - Minnesota) 01/13/17
"The Attorney General of the United States must be committed to protecting the rights of all Americans, especially those most vulnerable to discrimination. After careful consideration of Sen. Sessions' record, I do not think he is the best man for the job. I cannot vote for an attorney general who is not fully committed to equal justice for the LGBT community, minorities, immigrants, and women, and Sen. Sessions' answers failed to reassure me that he will be an attorney general for all Americans. I will be voting no on Senator Sessions for attorney general."

Senator Coons Announces Opposition to Senator Sessions’ Nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - Delaware) 01/13/17
“After reviewing Senator Sessions’ decades-long record and participating in a thorough Judiciary Committee hearing, and after also hearing from many Delawareans, I have decided that I will vote against President-elect Trump’s nomination of Senator Sessions to serve as our nation’s next Attorney General. “I have served alongside Senator Sessions for six years, and during that time, we have worked together constructively on several criminal justice issues, including support for local law enforcement, reauthorization of the Victims of Child Abuse Act and restoration of funding to the Federal Public Defender Service. On many more issues, however, including several that are core to my view of justice, Senator Sessions has vigorously opposed bipartisan reform efforts. “Any President deserves some latitude in picking nominees who support their principles, but on many important issues, including voting rights, civil rights, sentencing reform, LGBT rights, domestic violence protections, immigration reform, religious freedom, civil liberties, and torture, Senator Sessions has actively opposed bipartisan efforts to advance justice. While I believe Senator Sessions will uphold the law, even those he disagrees with, the role of Attorney General is bigger than that. I am concerned that Senator Sessions’ record as a prosecutor and an elected official demonstrates that on too many occasions he did not take action when there was an opportunity to stand up for the vulnerable, promote civil rights, or advance justice. “Today, the battle for equality continues in America, and our Attorney General cannot simply watch the march of history pass him by. After carefully reviewing and considering his 30 years of public service, I do not believe that Sen. Sessions has taken sufficient action to demonstrate his commitment to lead the Department of Justice’s important work for all Americans.”

Sen. Markey Statement on Nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 01/13/17
“When the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III to be Attorney General of the United States reaches the floor of the United States Senate, I will be voting no. I have heard from and listened to the thousands of my constituents who have contacted my office with fears about a Justice Department headed by Senator Sessions. I have told them that Senator Sessions must be judged based on the totality of his record. A review of that record, including two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, demonstrates anything but the type of commitment to the equal and impartial administration of justice that we must demand from the nation’s top law enforcement officer. “Senator Sessions’s record as a United States Attorney, Alabama’s Attorney General, and United States Senator reflects hostility to important Constitutional rights intended to protect people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants against discrimination and violence. Senator Sessions has fought against civil rights efforts, against protecting voting rights, against comprehensive immigration and criminal justice reform, against commonsense gun control measures, and against a woman’s right to choose. “Based on the totality of Senator Sessions’s record, I have no confidence that he shares a commitment to justice for all Americans or that he will fight to defend the most vulnerable in our society. I will be voting no on Senator Sessions’s nomination.”

Sen. Blumenthal Announces Opposition to Nomination of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Connecticut) 01/12/17
“After reviewing Senator Sessions’ record and reflecting on his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support his nomination to be Attorney General of the United States. At his confirmation hearing, Senator Sessions said simply that he would follow the law. But the Attorney General of the United States must be more than a follower. He must be a leader committed to fighting for civil rights and liberties and the active pursuit of justice,” Blumenthal said. “Senator Sessions has failed to convince me that he will be a champion of constitutional rights: voting rights, women’s health care and privacy rights, and anti-discrimination protections. Rather, he has demonstrated hostility and antipathy – even downright opposition – to these bedrock Constitutional principles. He has prided himself on his vociferous opposition to comprehensive immigration reform – legislation that passed the Senate with 68 bipartisan votes. He staunchly opposed a criminal justice reform bill that has attracted a group of 25 cosponsors, Democrats and Republicans. He even split with the majority of his own party to vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Indeed, his career demonstrates a prevailing hostility to the very rights and liberties that the nation’s chief law enforcement officer must always promote and defend. Equally important, I have no confidence he will be the independent, non-political enforcer the nation needs – at a moment when the incoming Administration faces ethical and legal controversies that are unprecedented in scope and scale in our history.”

Sen. Heinrich will vote against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General
(Democrat - New Mexico) 01/12/17
"I will vote against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General. Now more than ever, this position will require courage and an unwavering commitment to protect Americans' constitutional rights and to stand up against discrimination and hate. Like the thousands of New Mexicans I've heard from in recent days, I lack that confidence in Senator Sessions."

Sen. Hirono to oppose Sessions nomination for Attorney General
(Democrat - Hawaii) 01/12/17
“Over the past two months, I’ve heard from hundreds of my constituents and a number of prominent civil rights organizations – including a number who testified yesterday – on this issue. “I will vote against the nomination of Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General because I am deeply concerned about how he would use his prosecutorial discretion to uphold voting rights, protect civil rights, and protect a woman’s right to choose."

Sen. Cortez Masto Statement Opposing AG Nominee Jeff Sessions
(Democrat - California) 01/12/17
"As a former Attorney General and a former federal prosecutor, I take very seriously the important role that our nation’s top law enforcement officer plays in our system of government. That’s why I remain deeply concerned about the President-elect’s choice of Senator Sessions to lead the Department of Justice. I am troubled by the controversial and racially insensitive rhetoric Senator Sessions has used in the past, as well as his far-right positions on issues ranging from immigration and criminal justice reform to civil rights and voting rights. This is not personal – it is about his record and his views. As the next Attorney General, Senator Sessions would have enormous prosecutorial discretion, and his record in public office indicates to me that he often hasn’t recognized the humanity of the people hurt by his extreme positions, whether it’s undocumented immigrants or the African American community or LGBT Americans. After an ugly and divisive election season, many of my constituents in Nevada are fearful about what lies ahead. They deserve an Attorney General who they can trust to vigorously defend their rights and uphold our laws with impartiality. At a time when our nation needs to come together and heal, Senator Sessions is not the right choice to lead the DOJ and I cannot support this nomination."

Sen. Schumer Announces Opposition to Senator Sessions for Attorney General
(Democrat - New York) 01/12/17
“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration," Schumer said. "I am also deeply concerned by his views on immigration, which I saw firsthand during the push for comprehensive immigration reform. For those reasons, I will oppose his nomination to serve as the next Attorney General.”

Sen. Booker Judiciary Committee Testimony at Hearing on Attorney General Nomination
(Democrat - New Jersey) 01/11/17
"Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job – to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all. In fact, at numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility toward these convictions, and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals."

Sen. Casey Statement on Sessions Nomination
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 01/11/17
“I have significant concerns regarding U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination to serve as Attorney General, the nation’s top law enforcement officer and chief guardian of civil rights. On the critically important issue of voting rights, I am deeply troubled by his record as a federal prosecutor and a U.S. Senator. As a cosponsor of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, 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. His 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. I plan to meet with Senator Sessions next week to discuss his nomination.”

Sen. Duckworth "serious concerns" with Jeff Sessions Attorney General nominaton
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/10/17
"I want Senator Jeff Sessions to receive a fair confirmation hearing, but I also have serious concerns regarding his nomination for Attorney General. I am concerned about confirming someone for this important role who has called protections for people with disabilities ‘unnecessary’ and even ‘dangerous. I am concerned about the kind of enforcement our Department of Justice will pursue if its leader has consistently criticized policies that ensure schools reasonably accommodate and educate students with disabilities. I am concerned about what will happen to citizens with disabilities, citizens with different racial backgrounds, citizens with different sexual orientations and other marginalized Americans if their Attorney General has made a career opposing laws that protect them from discrimination and hate crimes."

Sen. Cory Booker To Testify Against Jeff Sessions: It’s ‘A Call To Conscience’
(Democrat - New Jersey) 01/10/17
“I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said in a statement. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”... “Senator Sessions’ decades-long record is concerning in a number of ways, from his opposition to bipartisan criminal justice reform to his views on bipartisan drug policy reform, from his efforts earlier in his career to deny citizens voting rights to his criticism of the Voting Rights Act, from his failure to defend the civil rights of women, minorities and LGBT Americans to his opposition to common-sense, bipartisan immigration reform,” Booker said. “The attorney general is responsible for ensuring the fair administration of justice, and based on his record, I lack confidence that Senator Sessions can honor this duty.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Combating Hate Crimes Must Be Top Priority For Trump And New Attorney General
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 01/09/17
"Unfortunately, President-elect Trump’s choice of Senator Sessions, who has opposed the expansion of federal hate crime laws, as his nominee to lead the Justice Department sends a concerning message that combating this crisis is not a priority for the incoming administration.... If Senator Sessions cannot or will not make a full commitment to act on violence borne out of hatred based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic, then he has no place serving as America’s top law enforcement official."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth Slams Jeff Sessions’ Disability Rights Record
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/09/17
Duckworth, a veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq War, questioned Trump’s selection of Sessions, when the Americans With Disabilities Act already appears to be under attack. “I personally am deeply concerned that at a time when the ADA protections seem to be eroding that we’re nominating someone who has less than a stellar record when it comes to comments made in support of disability rights,” she told The Huffington Post.... “The ADA provides the basic protections that allow me to do this job. I mean if it weren’t for the ADA I probably be stuck at home and unable to work,” Duckworth said. “But because the ADA exists, I’m able to have a productive life and be a tax paying citizen.” Everyone, she said, was one bad car crash away from being in need of the ADA. Duckworth said her concern about Sessions’ nomination stemmed from his 2012 stance against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sen. Blumenthal says no free pass for Trump’s picks
(Democrat - Connecticut) 01/09/17
“So we have good rapport, but these issues are about much more than personal relationships,” Blumenthal said. “‘I’m very concerned that Senator Sessions has taken stands on issues that are really antithetical to civil rights, (civil) liberties women’s health care and religious freedoms.” ... Blumenthal said he wants to know whether Sessions will appoint an independent counsel to preside over pending investigations into companies with ties to Trump, including Deutsche Bank, which has $300 million in outstanding loans to the president-elect. “Part of what the attorney general has to do is say ‘no’ to the president,” Trump said. “Stand up to his boss and say, ‘no.’ ”

Sen. Leahy Op-Ed: Jeff Sessions, an extremist then and now
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/08/17
Sen. Patrick Leahy column: “Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a shameful era which I know both black and white Americans thought was in our past. It is inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a US attorney, let alone a US federal judge. He is, I believe, a disgrace to the Justice Department and he should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.” (Senator Edward Kennedy, March 13, 1986) After four days of hearings and extensive testimony, Jeff Sessions’ nomination was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee. ... also look at what the nominee has said and done since that time. When I pushed in 2009 to advance the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a bill championed by Kennedy, it was Sessions who sought to derail it. He asserted at a Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill that he was “not sure women or people with different sexual orientations face that kind of discrimination.” When I worked across the aisle in 2013 to reauthorize and greatly expand the Violence Against Women Act to protect students, immigrants, LGBT victims, and those on tribal lands from domestic violence and sexual assault, Sessions was one of just a handful of Senate Republicans to oppose it. And in 2015, it was Sessions who led the opposition to a resolution I offered in the Senate Judiciary Committee that simply reiterated the basic principle that “the United States must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion.” My amendment was supported by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the committee, including the Republican chairman. Sessions has repeatedly stood in the way of efforts to promote and protect Americans’ civil rights. He did so even as other members of the Republican Party sought to work across the aisle to advance the cause of living up to our nation’s core values of equality and justice

Sen. Brown: I Cannot Support Sessions' Nomination; Senator Brown Announces He Will Oppose Senator Sessions’ Nomination for U.S. Attorney General, Cites Voting Rights as Major Concern
(Democrat - Ohio) 01/06/17
Following his Wednesday meeting with U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced he will oppose the Senator’s nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Brown met with Sessions to discuss his record on civil rights and plans for the U.S. Department of Justice. He pressed Sessions on the need to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how he would address the urgent need to improve police-community relations. “The U.S. Attorney General’s job is to enforce laws that protect the rights of every American,” Brown said. “I have serious concerns that Senator Sessions’ record on civil rights is at direct odds with the task of promoting justice and equality for all, and I cannot support his nomination. “Now, more than ever, we need leaders who can bring Americans together to improve police-community relations, ensure that all Americans have access to the ballot, and reform our criminal justice system.” In addition, Brown pressed Sessions on the Justice Department’s role in supporting the City of Cleveland’s progress in improving police-community relations. The city is currently working with the Justice Department through a consent decree. Sessions has a history of opposing consent decrees. “As Cleveland’s community members and law enforcement work together to improve relations, it’s important that our city has the full support of the Department of Justice in those efforts,” Brown said.

Tester Meets with Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions: Senator Grills Sessions on Government Surveillance, Resources for Domestic Violence Survivors, and Public Safety
(Democrat - Montana) 01/05/17
Tester asked Sessions about his longstanding history of opposing important civil liberties—including his vocal support for the Patriot Act and other government surveillance programs that infringe on Montanans’ right to privacy. Tester also pushed Sessions to explain his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act, the landmark legislation that has empowered survivors of domestic and sexual violence and held offenders more accountable for their criminal actions, and he urged him to support the Community Orientated Policing Services (COPS) Grant Initiative that provides local law enforcement departments with critical resources to hire, train, and equip police officers. “As our nation’s top law enforcement officer, it is the Attorney General’s responsibility to uphold the Constitution and defend all of our civil liberties,” Tester said after the meeting. “It is troubling to me that Senator Sessions didn’t answer many of those important questions. After this meeting, I am concerned that he will expand the government’s ability to spy on its citizens, refuse to be a voice for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and will not advocate for important grants, like COPS Grants that help our local police department do the job they are hired to do.” Tester encouraged Sessions during their meeting to direct federal law enforcement officials to work closer with Montana’s Native American Tribes to close the jurisdictional gaps in order to improve justice in Indian Country.

Further Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On Senator Jeff Sessions’ Nomination To Be The Attorney General Of The United States
(Democrat - Vermont) 01/04/17
"The American people deserve to learn about Senator Sessions’ record at the public Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Therefore it is especially and increasingly troubling that less than one week before hearings are set to begin, Senator Sessions still has not been fully responsive to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding his nomination. As a former ranking member of this Committee, Senator Sessions is well aware of the seriousness with which this Committee takes the confirmation process. This includes nominees providing senators with all the materials necessary to fairly evaluate a nominee’s record, including responsive materials required by the Committee questionnaire. However, my staff continues to find missing materials in public searches. For example, it appears that Senator Sessions has not produced any interviews during his time as Alabama Attorney General or as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. Production of these materials is anything but a new requirement; it is a crucial and longstanding practice of the Judiciary Committee. I hope we can expect that before our hearing begins next Tuesday, every effort will be taken to ensure that we have all that we need to move forward in considering Senator Sessions’ nomination.”

Sen. Durbin wary of Sessions' history on race
(Democrat - Illinois) 01/04/17
“I would say there certainly are elements in his background that raise questions,” Durbin told reporters Wednesday when asked whether it was a legitimate criticism that Sessions is racially insensitive. “He said several times, point blank, that this was not an issue as far as he was concerned. He believed that everybody deserved fair treatment."... Durbin signaled that his concerns extend beyond Sessions’ decades-old remarks to the conservative Alabama senator’s views on voter identification laws and the 2013 Supreme Court decision that invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Durbin even said he gave Sessions a book: “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide” by Carol Anderson, which chronicles the issue of race in America since the Civil War. “The Voting Rights Act is a major part” of the book, Durbin said. “I’m hoping he’ll take a look at it.”... He noted to Sessions that the Justice Department Civil Rights Division will soon release a report on the use-of-force practices of the Chicago Police Department, and said Sessions told him he was “not prepared to commit” to following through on DOJ’s yet-to-be-issued recommendations. The senator said he also pressed Sessions on boosting key Justice Department grants that would aid cities such as Chicago. Sessions “was not prepared to make that commitment,” Durbin said. “I know nominees are cautious in these meetings and they should be and I guess I understand that,” Durbin said. But “this seems to me a very easy question to answer.” Durbin also outlined his well-known differences between himself and Sessions on the issue of immigration and criminal justice reform.

SEN. WHITEHOUSE DISCUSSES TRUMP NOMINEE FOR U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Rhode Islanders raise questions about Senator Sessions’ record on civil rights, immigration
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 12/20/16
“The United States Attorney General is entrusted with protecting the civil liberties of every single American, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. The Attorney General must set aside personal beliefs to enforce the nation’s laws, upholding all of the values enshrined in our Constitution that for centuries have made our country the beacon of the free world,” said Whitehouse. “Having heard concerns about the President-elect’s nominee for Attorney General from constituents of many backgrounds, I’ll be looking to Senator Sessions to provide evidence he will protect the fundamental rights of all Rhode Islanders.”

Sen. Gillibrand has concerns about Sen. Sessions
(Democrat - New York) 12/19/16
Gillibrand said she also has concerns about the record of Trump’s pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions. Sessions also is on the Armed Services Committee and Gillibrand says she has concerns about some of his statements on sexual assault in the military.

Sen. Booker declares ‘outrage’ at Trump’s AG pick
(Democrat - New Jersey) 12/13/16
Booker said that, “with a stroke of a pen,” Sessions could undo the accomplishments of President Barack Obama’s two attorneys general, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, that have helped lower mandatory minimum sentences and aided people in immigration detention centers. “We had two very good attorneys general in a row. They really were partners in criminal justice reform,” said Booker. “That is not Jeff Sessions’s belief. It is one of the reasons I am so outraged by the pick. He is against the bipartisan efforts for criminal justice reform which are going on in the Senate, and he will have a very powerful position from which to fight us. So now I’m very worried about what he may choose to do, and it is one of the reasons I am gearing up for a confirmation fight in the months to come.”

Sen. Feinstein: More Time Needed to Review Sessions Nomination Documents
(Democrat - California) 12/13/16
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today renewed her call on Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to allow enough time for committee staff to review the more than 150,000 pages of records relevant to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general. Feinstein also called on Grassley to join her in calling on Sessions to provide the committee with information and documents missing from the questionnaire he submitted Friday evening. “First, Senator Sessions’ production is, as I understand it, in excess of 150,000 pages of material. This is more than 100 times what Attorney General Lynch produced (1500 pages) and more than 29 times what Attorney General Holder produced (5100 pages). I am sure you would agree that staff must have sufficient time to do the due diligence on any nominee for this vital position—and this due diligence will likely take longer than the review for recent, prior nominees who had less materials to analyze,” Feinstein wrote. The letter continued: “Second, despite being voluminous, Senator Sessions’ production appears to have been put together in haste and is, on its face, incomplete.” Full text of the letter follows: ...