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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Feinstein to Grassley: Sessions Nomination Materials Incomplete, Allow Sufficient Time for Review
(Democrat - California) 12/09/16
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noting that the required nomination materials for Senator Jeff Sessions are incomplete and calling for more time to review his “voluminous” record. Feinstein also noted that past nominations have required extensive materials from third parties and called on Chairman Grassley to allow enough time to acquire and review those documents.

Sen. Blumenthal letter urging Sen. Sessions to abstain from voting on his own confirmation
(Democrat - Connecticut) 12/08/16
"I write concerning your nomination as United States Attorney General and the longstanding precedent that Senators nominated to Cabinet positions recuse themselves from voting on their own confirmations. All six sitting Senators, both Democratic and Republican, to be nominated and confirmed to cabinet level positions since 1960 have declined to cast a recorded vote on their own nominations. If confirmed as Attorney General, you will serve as the nation's most powerful law enforcement official, responsible for administering the law impartially and fairly, faithful to the Constitution above partisan or personal interest. Public confidence and trust in the administration of justice is indispensable. Your decisions will be held to the highest standard and should be unclouded by personal bias or conflict of interest - and that approach starts with the Senate confirmation process. If the Senate votes on the confirmations of your potential Cabinet colleagues while your nomination is pending, I urge to recuse yourself from these votes as well."

Sen. Sherrod Brown on nominations
(Democrat - Ohio) 12/04/16
Democrats argue that some of the president-elect’s more controversial Cabinet picks — such as Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary — demand a thorough public airing. “They’ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We’re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?” fumed Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “It’s not obstruction, it’s not partisan, it’s just a duty to find out what they’d do in these jobs.”

Sen. Coons on Sen. Sessions nomination to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Delaware) 11/29/16
"I think Sen. Sessions had a long and complex record that deserves to be fully reviewed," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. "There are areas that I think, based on recent developments and some of Donald Trump's statements in his presidential campaign, that we should all be paying attention to, not least of which is the protection of civil rights and civil liberties."

Sen. Blumenthal on Sen. Sessions nomination to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Connecticut) 11/29/16
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, said he is concerned about Sessions' record on voting rights and immigration reform. He said Sessions' nomination is important "in real as well as in symbolic terms about where the administration goes and what its enforcement will be to ensure that people have civil rights and civil liberties." Blumenthal said Democrats will need to engage the public to develop opposition. "We'll be as persuasive as possible in what we say about it, hoping to reach and arouse as many people as possible," he said.

Sen. Feinstein casts doubt on quick Sessions confirmation
(Democrat - California) 11/29/16
Asked if she was "on board" withholding Sessions' hearing before the inauguration, Feinstein said she doubted the panel could move that quickly. "I don't know that we can," she said. As the incoming ranking member, Feinstein said she would have to wait to hire staff until she officially takes the lead Democratic role on the Committee in early January. "I don't know that all the due diligence can be done [by then]," she said. "I don't become ranking member until next year, and so I won't have the staff when we go [into session in early January]." "…We need the staff to do some of this work and I'm a little bit surprised, but I want to talk to Sen. Grassley," she said. "I have concerns," she told added. "The president has referred to him as his attorney general. There's no such thing as a president's attorney general. You're attorney general on behalf of the people, not the president."

Letter from 8 Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to Chairman Grassley on Sen. Sessions nomination to be Attorney General
(Democrat - ) 11/28/16
“We all have personal and cordial relationships with Senator Sessions and know him to be a strong advocate for his political positions. But as you know, his job as attorney general, if he is confirmed, will be different; he will have to be an independent attorney general who is willing to set aside personal beliefs and political positions in service of larger obligations.... When our country is struggling with so many divisions, the committee and the entire Senate must ask whether Senator Sessions is the right man to lead the agency charged with securing and protecting the constitutional and civil rights of all Americans,”

Sen. Gillibrand on Jeff Sessions: ‘I Don’t See How He Can Be Attorney General’
(Democrat - New York) 11/21/16
“I have very grave concerns about Senator Sessions as the head of the Department of Justice. And I will of course pay attention to his hearings, and I will of course give him the opportunity to speak out about what kind of a head of the department he’s going to be,” Gillibrand began. “But I have to say, those comments are so offensive, and so dangerous. And if he doesn’t understand the basics of what sexual assault is, I don’t know how he can be attorney general. Because, honestly, that’s one of the attorney general’s jobs.” “He has a real role in this. And if he doesn’t understand the basic tenets of what sexual assault is, then I don’t think he has the background and knowledge he will need to be attorney general,” she continued....Gillibrand also hit Trump over his calls during the campaign for a registry of Muslim Americans. “If he literally does those things, then it is the beginning of a very long war,” Gillibrand said. “That is not tolerable in this country.”

Sen. Warren on apparent decision to nominate Sen. Sessions to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 11/18/16
"Instead of embracing the bigotry that fueled his campaign rallies, I urge President-elect Trump to reverse his apparent decision to nominate Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States. If he refuses, then it will fall to the Senate to exercise fundamental moral leadership for our nation and all of its people. Thirty years ago, a different Republican Senate rejected Senator Sessions' nomination to a federal judgeship. In doing so, that Senate affirmed that there can be no compromise with racism; no negotiation with hate. Today, a new Republican Senate must decide whether self-interest and political cowardice will prevent them from once again doing what is right."

Sen. Booker Statement on President-elect Trump’s Intention to Nominate Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
(Democrat - New Jersey) 11/18/16
"There is a growing and alarming trend among the individuals President-elect Trump is naming to key positions in his administration. Some have degraded and demeaned Americans. Others actively promote dangerous fringe ideologies. Still more have threatened Americans' rights, and attacked the privileges of citizenship. As the nation's chief law enforcement officer, the Attorney General of the United States must be independent of politics and respect the dignity of all Americans. The Attorney General has a duty to enforce the rule of law fairly and pursue equal justice under the law. One of the core functions of the Department of Justice is to protect Americans' civil rights, and to defend those who have been denied them. Another key function of the Department of Justice is to protect our security, but never sacrifice our civil liberties. Like any cabinet-level nominee, Senator Sessions deserves a fair hearing before the Senate and I look forward to fully reviewing his nomination before casting my vote. But based on my experience over three years of working with him, I am concerned that he possesses ideologies that are in conflict with basic tenets of the Justice Department's mission. Not only has Senator Sessions been a staunch opponent of reforming the tragic shortcomings in our criminal justice system, he holds a number of views that are inconsistent with how most Americans believe justice should be applied under our Constitution."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Reports of Sessions AG Nomination
(Democrat - California) 11/18/16
“The Justice Department has the awesome responsibility of upholding the country’s laws and protecting Americans, and the attorney general sets the tone for the entire agency. That’s why this position is so important and deserves such intense scrutiny. The attorney general should be above the political fray—our laws absolutely must apply equally to all Americans if we're to have confidence in them. The attorney general’s honesty, integrity and willingness to enforce the law in an even-handed manner are all vital to be effective in this position. The attorney general has jurisdiction over many crucial laws and must discharge his or her duties regardless of personal views. These include enforcing civil rights and voting protections, prosecuting hate crimes and firearm violations, protecting women’s health clinics and upholding the constitutional right to marriage equality. The attorney general oversees immigration judges who will hear cases on individuals applying for asylum status. The Justice Department is the agency that determines what interrogation techniques are permissible under our laws and treaties. It sets the priorities for law enforcement throughout our country. And all of this must be done with objectivity and impartiality. Finally, the attorney general is the lawyer for the people, not the president. His or her primary loyalty must be to the Constitution and the rule of law—and sometimes that means telling the president no. Senator Sessions has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for many years so he’s well aware of the thorough vetting he’s about to receive. And while many of us have worked with Senator Sessions closely and know him to be a staunch advocate for his beliefs, the process will remain the same: a fair and complete review of the nominee. While Senator Sessions and I differ on a great many issues, I am committed to a full and fair process.”

Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto on Sen. Jeff Sessions nomination to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Nevada) 11/18/16
"Jeff Sessions for AG? The man supports anti-immigrant policies and was deemed too racist for federal judgeship by GOP Senate. Unacceptable."

(Democrat - Rhode Island) 11/18/16
“The Attorney General of the United States is entrusted with vital responsibilities: to defend the civil liberties and personal safety of all Americans without regard to race, religion, or sexual orientation; to set aside ideology to enforce the laws as written by Congress and interpreted by our courts, including those that protect our environment, public health, workers, and the right to vote; and to preserve the values enshrined in our Constitution of equal justice and due process under the law. Senator Sessions knows the confirmation process he will face and no doubt expects the Committee to address all of these concerns. I look forward to hearing his vision for protecting the civil rights of all Americans and vigorously enforcing our laws.”

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Reports Of Senator Jeff Sessions’ Nomination To Be The Attorney General Of The United States
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/18/16
“The Attorney General serves as the chief law enforcement officer in the country. The Attorney General must be independent and fair. The Attorney General must be deeply committed to the rule of law and must ensure that all people are treated equally before the law. This means that he or she is also the chief protector of civil rights and civil liberties for everyone in our Nation. That has never been more important than in this moment, when hate crimes have spiked across the country, especially against Muslim and LGBTQ Americans. And when we have a President-elect who has proposed religious tests, a return to torture, and a deportation force that threatens to remove millions of immigrants. Senator Sessions and I have had significant disagreements over the years, particularly on civil rights, voting rights, immigration and criminal justice issues. But unlike Republicans’ practice of unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s nominees, I believe nominees deserve a full and fair process before the Senate. The American people deserve to learn about Senator Sessions’ record at the public Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.”

Sen. Bill Nelson will “reserve judgment” regarding Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General
(Democrat - Florida) 11/18/16
Nelson said little about how he might vote on Sessions when he comes up for a confirmation vote next year. “I will certainly reserve judgment if he is the nominee until we go through the hearings and it comes to the full Senate for a vote,” he said at a news conference at his downtown Tampa district office. “I can tell you that Jeff Sessions and I have worked on a number of pieces of legislation together in a bipartisan way and I’ve always had a very good working relationship with him.”

Senator-elect & California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Statement on President-Elect Trump's Proposed Nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as U.S. Attorney General
(Democrat - California) 11/18/16
"While I have many concerns with President-Elect Trump's nominations to date, the nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is particularly troubling. Justice Robert Jackson, one of the most esteemed justices to serve on the Supreme Court, wrote of the U.S. Department of Justice, 'The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous.' I know from my own career in law enforcement, civil rights, and the six years I have spent as California's Attorney General how important this role is for our society. The Attorney General is the people's lawyer, a public servant who is sworn to uphold the promise of equal protection under the law and to ensure the fair administration of justice for all. In viewing the role of the U.S. Attorney General through this lens, I have deep concerns about Senator Sessions' nomination. Particularly, I am concerned with his support for policies that would undermine core Department of Justice functions and his views that are incompatible with constitutional guarantees. Like all presidential nominees, Senator Sessions deserves a fair and thorough hearing by the Senate, and I look forward to actively engaging in that process."

Sen. Manchin on Sen. Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - West Virginia) 11/18/16
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he's supporting President-elect Donald Trump's pick of Sessions, journalist Salena Zito tweeted Friday afternoon. .@Sen_JoeManchin says in our interview in Charleston West Virginia he supports @SenatorSessions for Trump's AG

Senator Coons’ statement on the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as U.S. Attorney General
(Democrat - Delaware) 11/18/16
“Today, President-elect Trump nominated Senator Sessions to serve as Attorney General, the top federal law enforcement official in our country. During our time as colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Sessions and I have worked constructively together on some important matters, including the reauthorization of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. We have also disagreed about many issues fundamental to the direction of the country, including immigration, civil rights, and criminal justice. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the confirmation process is a responsibility I take seriously. The Department of Justice must ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. I am committed to treating Senator Sessions’ nomination fairly, and I expect Senators of both parties to scrutinize closely Senator Sessions’ record and experience to determine whether he is an appropriate candidate for this critical post.”

Sen. Blumenthal Statement on the Reported Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General
(Democrat - Connecticut) 11/18/16
“Although a respected colleague, Senator Sessions deserves and no doubt expects the same exacting, serious scrutiny that any other Attorney General nominee would receive. As the nation’s highest law enforcer, this position extends an unrivaled panoply of powers – over individual rights and liberties, national security, criminal justice, environment and many others. Seeking a public trust of profound importance, an appointee should have unquestionable integrity and ability, an unshakable respect for the Constitution, and a record of professional and ethical excellence. Senator Sessions will be held to this high standard. I am sure he anticipates no less.”

Sen. Schumer Notes 'Troubling Things' in Record of Jeff Sessions, Trump's Attorney General Pick
(Democrat - New York) 11/18/16
ABC's Martha Raddatz also noted to Schumer in an interview that will air Sunday on "This Week" that Sessions "was one of only four senators to vote against a Senate Judiciary Committee amendment that banned a religious test for immigrants.” "These are troubling things, and the only fair thing to do is ask a lot of questions, very thorough questions and then make an opinion," Schumer said. "Like any nominee he has to questioned very carefully, not only about his past but about his future," the New York senator said. “One question I’d want to ask him, ‘What do you want to do with the Civil Rights Division?'” Schumer said.