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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/20/16
"Today, this Committee is holding its first nominations hearing since January. Since that time, judicial vacancies have risen across the Nation and nominations to fill empty judgeships have piled up in this Committee. In addition to the five judicial nominees on this hearing, there are 27 other judicial nominees that are waiting for a hearing – including Chief Judge Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. ... The nominees awaiting hearings who were not called today include three circuit court nominees whose home state Senators support their nominations. Donald Schott of Wisconsin was nominated to serve on the Seventh Circuit on January 12 to fill the longest vacancy in the Federal Judiciary, which has remained unfilled for more than six years. Senator Baldwin recently wrote a letter to Chairman Grassley urging a hearing for Mr. Schott, and I join her request. Senator Johnson, the Republican home state Senator, returned his blue slip and supports the Chairman moving forward with this nomination. Given the pressing need to fill the vacancy and the bipartisan support of home state Senators, there is no good reason that Mr. Schott was left off this hearing. In addition to Mr. Schott, we also have the nominations of Jennifer Puhl of North Dakota to the Eighth Circuit, and Lucy Koh of California to the Ninth Circuit. Both Ms. Puhl and Ms. Koh have the support of their home state Senators, and the Committee should do its job to hold hearings on them. ... one would have to go back more than 60 years to 1953 to find the last Congressional session in which the Senate did not hold hearings for at least one circuit nominee. Notably, the reason the Senate did not hold a circuit court nominations hearing that session is because there was no circuit nominee ... the Chairman has announced that he will stop processing nominees in July. I will note that I held two nominations hearings for 10 judicial nominees in September 2008, ... When Senate Republicans took over the majority last year, there were just 43 judicial vacancies, but their obstruction has resulted in an increase in vacancies of more than 75 percent. ... We can reduce the judicial vacancies in those states if Republican leadership would allow timely votes on the 20 pending judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar. All of those nominees were reported out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote."

Sen. Reid: Senator Grassley Making Excuses For Not Doing His Job
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/20/16
"To date, there have been two dozen editorials in Iowa condemning Senator Grassley’s refusal to consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee. And many more letters to the editor. This isn’t only in Iowa. Around the country, there have been scores and scores of editorials talking about how wrong it is that the Judiciary Committee is taking a vacation."

(Democrat - Illinois) 04/19/16
" Merrick Garland faces a historic blockade in the Senate. The Senate has never in its history denied a hearing to a Presidential nominee to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court . It has never ever happened before.... Give Merrick Garland a hearing under oath so the American people can draw their own conclusions about whether this man is the right person for the Supreme Court , and then let's have a vote on the floor. In the past, even when the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected a Presidential nominee for the Supreme Court , the committee sent that nomination to the floor anyway for a vote so that the whole Senate could speak to the worthiness of that nominee. Merrick Garland deserves nothing less."

(Democrat - Washington) 04/19/16
"I come to the Senate floor to once again urge my Republican colleagues to do what they are elected to do: listen to their constituents and give Judge Garland the fair consideration he deserves."

Sen. Reid: Oklahoma City Bombing Case Exemplifies Garland’s Qualifications For The Supreme Court
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/19/16
"Why not let Merrick Garland speak for himself in a hearing? Why not let him make his own case to the American people and their elected senators? There is no excuse to delay his nomination any longer. Senate Republicans should give Merrick Garland the hearings and the vote he deserves. Republicans need simply to do their job."

On The Anniversary Of The Oklahoma City Bombing, Leahy Calls For The Senate To Come Together And Do The Work Of The American People
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/19/16
“Chief Judge Garland helped oversee every aspect of the criminal investigation and response, and years later, he still considers his work in Oklahoma City the most important of his life,” Leahy said in a floor statement. Now, Leahy said, “It is this dedicated public servant who is being denied a public hearing by Senate Republicans.”

Sen. Reid: Refusing To Do Their Job, Republicans Are Setting Records For Gridlock
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/18/16
"Even District Court nominations supported by Republicans seem too hard for this group to get accomplished. And it appears the Senate will fail even to have a hearing on the President’s Supreme Court nomination. It seems Republicans still need to learn how to do their job. Senate Republicans are making history for all the wrong reasons. Republicans’ obstruction of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, is the first of its kind in Senate history. Never before has the Senate categorically refused to consider a Supreme Court nominee solely because the vacancy occurred during an election year. But as each day passes, Republicans set some new mark for gridlock. For example, in the post-World War II era, the average time between a Supreme Court nomination and the nominee’s first hearing has been 29 days. Today is the 33rd day since Merrick Garland’s name was put forward by President Obama. Already we are four days past the average. The longest a nominee has been forced to wait for a hearing was 82 days. ... Americans want Republicans in the Senate to do their job and give Merrick Garland a hearing."

Sen. Bennet Statement on Meeting with Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Colorado) 04/14/16
"We had a very productive meeting that confirmed what I already know: Judge Garland is an intelligent and pragmatic jurist who is extraordinarily well-qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Our job in the Senate is to learn about Judge Garland's record, conduct hearings, and vote to confirm or deny his nomination. Because he is thoughtful, thorough, and well-respected across the political spectrum, obstructing a fair process, much less refusing to meet with him, makes no sense. How we manage this duty to provide serious consideration and deliberation to a rare appointment to the nation's highest judicial office will determine whether we deserve the respect of Americans who rightly expect us to exhibit dignity, mutual respect, and wisdom on their behalf."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/14/16
"I learned that several Republican members on this Committee were finally willing to sit down privately with Chief Judge Merrick Garland, but that is not the meeting that the American people care about. The American people care about the meeting that takes place in this Committee where the public is invited in to see us doing our jobs. Chief Judge Garland should have the opportunity to appear publicly before this Committee and respond to the dishonest attacks against his distinguished record.... we should send Chief Judge Garland a questionnaire, as the Chairmen and Ranking Members of this Committee have done as long as I have served here. And of course the nominee should send us his updated Senate questionnaire. ... . If this Committee follows the schedule of the Supreme Court nominees considered for the past four decades, that public hearing should be on April 27th . As Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has said, “let’s get on with it.” Let’s do our jobs already."

Sen. Reid: From Budget To Supreme Court, Republicans Refuse To Do Their Jobs
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/14/16
"We have years and years’ worth of statements from the Republican leader and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in which they said unequivocally – it’s the Senate’s duty to consider the President’s Supreme Court nominees. These statements go back decades. The Republican Leader wrote papers in law school demanding the Senate give Supreme Court nominees all due consideration. Well, all due consideration is not refusing to meet with the man, not holding hearings and not allowing a vote."

Sen. Reid: If Senator Grassley Believes In Transparency, He Should Give Judge Garland Hearings And A Vote
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/13/16
“There will be no transparency if Senator Grassley fails to call an open hearing – a hearing when Chief Judge Garland can present himself to the American people"

Sen. Reid: Senator Grassley’s Actions Show He’s Feeling Pressure To Do His Job With The Supreme Court
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/12/16
"Senator Grassley finally met with Judge Garland. But even that meeting was held in private, far away from the public eye. These are not the actions of a Senator and Chairman who is confident with his decision to block a Supreme Court nominee. This is the behavior of a Senator who knows he’s on the wrong side of the Constitution, and the wrong side of history. Wouldn’t it be easier for the senior Senator from Iowa to do his job?"

Sen. Heitkamp: U.S. Senate needs to do its job, just as North Dakotans do every day
(Democrat - North Dakota) 04/12/16
"North Dakotans can’t imagine how any member of Congress could just decide not to go to work, yet that’s what is happening with a majority of the U.S. Senate.... The U.S. Senate also needs to do its job. That means meeting with President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, holding a public hearing on him and holding an up-or-down vote in the Senate."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/11/16
"Crenshaw was nominated over a year ago, on February 4, 2015. He has the support of his two Republican home state Senators, Senators Alexander and Corker. He was voted out of the Judiciary Committee by unanimous voice vote last summer on July 9, 2015. There is no good reason why it has taken 14 months to confirm this nominee.... This is our first judicial confirmation vote in two months. In the last two years of the Bush administration – with a Democratic majority – the Senate confirmed 68 judges. This new Congress, the Republican leadership has allowed only 16 judges to be confirmed since they gained the majority last year.... vacancies have dramatically increased more than 75 percent to 79. Furthermore, the number of judicial vacancies deemed to be “emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts ... has nearly tripled under Republican Senate leadership – from 12 when Republicans took over last year to 34 today. After we vote on Mr. Crenshaw’s nomination, 19 judicial nominees will remain pending on the Executive Calendar. This includes nominees with home state support from Republican Senators, including Robert Rossiter for ... Nebraska; Edward Stanton for ... Tennessee; and Susan Baxter and Marilyn Horan for ... Pennsylvania. We can reduce the empty judgeships in those states if Republican leadership would allow timely votes on the pending judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar. All of those nominees were reported out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote. There should not be any further delay in confirming them. Last Thursday, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 42 other organizations submitted a letter to Chairman Grassley expressing their dismay with the failure of the Judiciary Committee to do its job to process nominees for our Federal trial and appellate courts, creating a growing backlog of judicial nominations."

Sen. Reid: On Judges, Republicans Refuse To Do Their Job And The American People Are Suffering For It
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/11/16
"While I am pleased the Senate will confirm Mr. Crenshaw later today, I wonder why this eminently qualified nominee wasn’t confirmed a long, long time ago. Let’s not forget, it’s been more than a year since President Obama nominated Mr. Crenshaw. The Judiciary Committee reported Mr. Crenshaw’s nomination unanimously more than nine months ago. That a consensus nominee like Mr. Crenshaw had to wait so long to be confirmed is another sad example of Senate Republicans’ concerted effort to undermine the American Judiciary system.... To date, this Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed only 16 judicial nominations. Today will be number 17. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, that is good enough to make this Republican Senate the worst at confirming circuit and district court judges. Chairman Grassley is running the least-productive Judiciary Committees since World War II, measured in both judges reported out of committee and judges confirmed. Because of Republican sloth, judicial emergencies have nearly tripled .... From the Supreme Court on down to the district courts, let’s get the job done for our nation’s judiciary."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Finally Acts to Confirm First Judicial Nominee In Two Months, But Dozens More Await Action—Including SCOTUS Nominee; Republicans Held Up Tennessee District Court Nominee For 14 Months
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/11/16
After previously blocking his nomination, Senate Republicans today are finally allowing the confirmation of Waverly Crenshaw, an African-American nominee who will fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the district court for the Middle District of Tennessee. However, 19 more judicial nominees are awaiting Senate action on the floor and dozens more are pending in the Judiciary Committee ... “The American people expect Senators to do their jobs,” Leahy said in a statement. “This is true with judicial nominations to the lower courts, but it is even more crucial for the Supreme Court of the United States"

Sen. Leahy: Merrick Garland Waits as GOP Outsources the People’s Work to Moneyed Interest Groups
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/07/16
"Rather than rolling up their sleeves and considering Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s record for themselves, Republicans have outsourced their job to moneyed interest groups whose only goal is to smear the nominee’s admirable record of public service.... First, Senate Republicans have encouraged the special interest groups to distort and malign his record. ... But at the same time, Republican Senators want to deny him a chance to defend himself at a public hearing. That is wrong, it is harmful, and it is unfair."

Sen. Warren Op-Ed: Republicans fiddle while Washington burns
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 04/07/16
"In 2013, as Obama began his second term, Republican leaders flatly rejected his authority to confirm any judges to fill any of three open seats on the second-highest court in the country, and Democrats had to change the filibuster rules in order to move those nominees forward. Once Republicans took over the Senate in 2015, judicial confirmations nearly ground to a halt.... Republicans readily admit that their refusal to act is not related to Garland’s qualifications. ... Instead, they block votes wholesale, in order to keep critical jobs vacant, and to undermine the government itself. In so doing, they insult both the president and the Constitution."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 04/07/16
"[W]e will finally vote to report out three judicial nominees who have been on the agenda for nearly two months. Committee members want to continue to discuss how this Committee should function – but that cannot be used as an excuse to further delay action on lower court nominees or legislation. We have not had a hearing for a single judicial nominee since January. It is now April. There are 29 judicial nominees waiting for a hearing, including 3 circuit court nominees whose home state Senators support them receiving a hearing. This Committee must return to its work of holding nominations hearings. In addition, we have not had a single confirmation vote on a judicial nominee since early February. In the last two years of the Bush administration – with a Democratic majority – the Senate confirmed 68 judges. More than a year into this new Congress, the Republican leadership has allowed only 16 judges to be confirmed. I hope that Senate Republicans will stop delaying consideration of the 17 judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar. These are all nominees who were reported out of this Committee by voice vote."

Sen. Sherrod Brown Floor Statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Democrat - Ohio) 04/06/16
"President Reagan said: ``Every day that passes with a Supreme Court below full strength impairs the people's business in that crucially important body.'' President Reagan realized in 1988, during the last year of his Presidency, what President Obama realizes in 2016, the last year of his Presidency: that an eight-person Supreme Court runs counter to our national interest and runs counter, frankly, to the intent of our Founders .... Pure and simple, the Senate needs to do its job."

(Democrat - Oregon) 04/06/16
"The President's duty is to nominate a Supreme Court Justice when there is a vacancy. That responsibility is clearly written into our Constitution....but the job strike my colleagues are engaged in today says: We are going to leave this vacancy on the Court . We are going on a job strike for an entire year and not do our responsibility under the Constitution because we just don't want to. That is a dereliction of duty, and I encourage my colleagues to rethink their positions."

Reid: Republicans Should Put Election Year Politics Aside and Do Their Job
(Democrat - Nevada) 04/06/16
“Senate Republicans should put aside election year politics and do their job regarding President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Garland. By the Republican Leader’s own admission, our job is to carry out a respectful nominations process – that means hearings – and then at the end of that process we must give the nominee an up-or-down vote. That’s our job and we should do it.”

Sen. Coons Floor Statement: ongoing vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court
(Democrat - Delaware) 04/06/16
"I think the best way for the American people to exercise that voice is for this body to do its job, for the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct full, fair, and open hearings, and to allow Judge Garland to answer searching questions of the sort that many of us are asking him privately, but then we should ask publicly and then have a vote--a vote by the people's representatives in this body."

(Democrat - Illinois) 04/05/16
"You can read that Constitution from start to finish and never find the rationale being used by Senator McConnell, the majority leader of the Senate, to stop that nomination from being considered in the Senate. There is no argument made in the Constitution--nor has there ever been an argument made--that because the President is in the last year of his 4-year term, he no longer has a constitutional responsibility to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. In fact, never--underline never--has the Senate refused a hearing to a nominee who has been sent forward by a President of the United States to fill this important vacancy.... No Supreme Court nominee has ever been denied a hearing before, and Merrick Garland should not be the first. The message of the American people to the Senate Republican majority is very simple, three words: Do your job. Do your job under the Constitution. Have a hearing."