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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, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/15/16
"On the agenda today, we have two judicial nominees who should be reported favorably. Judge Lucy Koh to the Ninth Circuit and Judge Florence Pan to the District Court in the District of Columbia. Both are eminently well qualified.... The Republican leadership should not schedule recess until we confirm these two nominees and the 28 other judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar. In September 2008, when George W. Bush was president, I was chairman of this Committee. Despite the impending presidential election, I held two hearings that month for 10 judicial nominees. Each of those 10 nominees were confirmed in one September day. After those confirmations, not a single nominee was left on the Executive Calendar before the election. There is no good reason we cannot do for these nominees this September what I did for President Bush’s judicial nominees eight years ago."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Republicans Have Not Confirmed A Single Judicial Nominee In More Than Two Months: While GOP Refuses To Act, Judicial Vacancies Increase To 90; And Because Of GOP Inaction, SCOTUS Nominee Merrick Garland Has Been Pending For Six Months
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/15/16
“The Republican leadership should not schedule recess until we confirm Chief Judge Garland and the 30 judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar,” said Leahy, who as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 2008 steered 10 of President Bush’s judicial nominees to confirmation in the month of September alone. Those 10 confirmations reduced the number of judicial vacancies all the way to 34, roughly one-third of the 90 that exist today. “There is no good reason we cannot do for these nominees this September what I did for President Bush’s judicial nominees eight years ago.” Among the nominees pending on the Senate calendar are five nominees to fill vacancies on the Court of Federal Claims (CFC). All five were nominated over two years ago, and they were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee twice. One of those nominees, Armando Bonilla, would be the first Hispanic judge to hold a seat on the CFC if he is confirmed. Yet Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) continues to block these nominees. Senate Republicans have also refused to confirm the longest pending district court nominees on the calendar, Edward Stanton of Tennessee and Julien Neals of New Jersey, despite the support of their Republican and Democratic home state Senators.

Sen. Durbin Meets With Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland, Calls On Senate GOP To Do Their Job: Unprecedented Republican Obstruction Has Left Supreme Court Deadlocked Eight Times, Garland Waiting Longer Than Any Nominee In U.S. History
(Democrat - Illinois) 09/14/16
“Why would the Republican majority in the Senate go out on a limb and take a position that's never been taken before in the history of the United States to deny Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote? Well, because there are certain people in high places who want to see a president named Donald Trump fill this vacancy. They believe that he would pick a person closer to their political liking, someone who would serve their economic interests,” said Durbin. “It’s a shame, it’s unfortunate, and some would argue, unconstitutional…It is a sad chapter in the history of the United States Senate, written for political reasons, at the expense of a man who should have his day before a hearing, in sworn testimony, to tell us how he would like to continue to serve this nation.”

(Democrat - Montana) 09/14/16
Senator Jon Tester took to the Senate floor today to call out his colleagues for their partisan politics and refusal to do their job. With the Senate set to recess next week for the election without addressing many of the problems facing the country, Tester laid out potential solutions. Tester called on his colleagues to address the Zika crisis, pass his bipartisan Veterans First Act, and hold a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee. Tester called on his colleagues to do their jobs.

Sen. McCaskill: Taking on Congressional Leaders, McCaskill Urges Congress to ‘stay at the job’
(Democrat - Missouri) 09/14/16
“Probably the thing that is most amazing, is that in light of no hearing on [Supreme Court nominee] Merrick Garland, in light of no budget, in light of no spending bills, in light of all these things, we are working fewer days in Washington than we have in 60 years,” McCaskill said. “I showed this calendar to people at home. They thought I was kidding… this means nothing is happening on the budget, nothing is happening on a Supreme Court vacancy, nothing is happening on oversight hearings, nothing is happening on appropriations, nothing is happening on Zika, nothing is happening in Washington.” After working the fewest days in a generation, the Republican-controlled Senate is slated to leave Washington before securing critical votes on an annual budget, a Supreme Court nominee, and spending bills to fund the government for this fiscal year.

Sen. Tester Discusses Upcoming Issues for this Congressional Session
(Democrat - Montana) 09/13/16
The Supreme Court continues to operate with only eight justices; Merrick Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court on March 16th of this year, however he has still not received a hearing or a vote. “A six month vacancy wasn’t what our founding fathers had in mind when they demanded that the Senate advise and consent to a Supreme Court nominee. It’s time for Judge Garland to be publically vetted through a hearing and then receive a vote.”

Sen. Leahy Op-Ed: Constitution Day: Protecting our democracy
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/13/16
Sen. Patrick Leahy: "partisan obstruction of a Supreme Court nomination is not only unprecedented but it is contrary to the constitutional design of the Framers. Senate Republicans’ shutdown of any consideration of the Supreme Court nominee diminishes both of the other co-equal branches of government. It imposes a novel time limit on one of the most important constitutional roles of our president. And it diminishes the role that our highest court can play while it operates with a long-standing vacancy.... In 2010, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said Chief Judge Garland would be “a consensus nominee” and there was “no question” he could be confirmed to the Supreme Court.... There is still time for the Senate to correct its course and consider Chief Judge Garland’s nomination. There should not be an empty seat on the bench when the Supreme Court convenes on the first Monday in October. If there is, it will represent the disrespect that Senate Republicans have not only for the president’s powers under the Constitution but for the independent judiciary that the Constitution created."

Sen. Reid: The Republican Congress is Bought and Paid for by the Koch Brothers
(Democrat - Nevada) 09/12/16
"We all remember – we should, if we don’t – what happened earlier this year with the junior senator from Kansas. Senator Moran had the audacity to admit that Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court deserved consideration. He didn’t say he was going to vote for them. He simply said they deserve consideration. So what happened after that? Senator Moran may be the Kochs’ biggest and most outspoken supporter in the United States Senate. He has proven that time and time again. He has defended his home state billionaires multiple times here on the Senate floor. But even the loyalty he showed could not spare the junior senator from the Kochs’ wrath. The Koch brothers rallied their massive political machine against their home state senator. One of their groups, the Judicial Crisis Network, threatened to launch an ad campaign against Senator Moran. Well, what happened? Senator Moran performed a breathtaking about-face and has since refused to support a hearing or a vote for Merrick Garland."

Sen. Casey: Stop the Obstruction and Do Your Job
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 09/09/16
"In May, I walked onto the Senate floor and made a motion to confirm all judicial nominees for federal district court seats pending before the full Senate, including two from Pennsylvania. I felt compelled to take action since the pace of judicial confirmations has slowed to a trickle while the number of judicial vacancies has skyrocketed since Republicans took over the majority in 2014. Despite the fact that the Senate has confirmed just 22 judges so far this Congress, compared to the 68 the Democrat-controlled Senate confirmed in the final two years of the Bush administration, and despite the fact that judicial vacancies have increased more than 100 percent in the last two years, the Majority Leader quickly shot down my motion.... Senate Democrats have gone to the floor to make over 20 confirmation motions for district court nominees, including 5 just this week. ... Pennsylvania currently has four pending district court nominees, all distinguished judges nominated with bipartisan support from my colleague Senator Toomey. Two of these nominees, Susan Baxter and Marilyn Horan, passed out of the Judiciary Committee with unanimous support and are now among the 18 district court nominees, all vetted and deemed fit by the Judiciary Committee, awaiting full-Senate confirmation votes. Pennsylvania’s other two excellent district court nominees, John Younge and Robert Colville, have inexplicably been blocked from even getting a committee vote, despite their obvious qualification for the federal bench. There is simply no legitimate reason to block any of these nominees. Unfortunately, the district court is not the only place Senate Republicans are obstructing nominations. It took more than a year for the Senate to confirm the eminently qualified Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to his seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, the Senate again has before it an excellent nominee to that court, Rebecca Haywood, who deserves prompt consideration and a vote. She was nominated almost six months ago, yet Republican leadership has not taken a single step toward considering her nomination."

Sen. Leahy Comment After Meeting With Supreme Court Nominee Chief Judge Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/08/16
“It has been almost six months since I met with Chief Judge Garland following his nomination to the Supreme Court. In that time, Senate Republicans have done nothing to give this respected judge fair consideration or to ensure that the Supreme Court can properly function as the final arbiter of law. I wanted to see Chief Judge Garland again today to make sure he understood that I and Senate Democrats are still fighting to ensure that he receives the same fair treatment given to previous nominees. It is early September. There is plenty of time for a public confirmation hearing and a confirmation vote so that Chief Judge Garland can join the Supreme Court when it convenes on the first Monday in October. The time for partisan posturing is over. It is time Senate Republicans to do their jobs.”

176 Days After Judge Garland Was Nominated To The Supreme Court, Senator Leahy Addresses The Senate About Continuing Republican Obstruction Of The Nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/08/16
"Since public confirmation hearings began in the Judiciary Committee for Supreme Court nominees a century ago, the Senate has never denied a nominee a hearing and a vote. The late Justice Scalia received a hearing 42 days after his nomination. Justice Kennedy, who was the last justice confirmed in a presidential election year, received a hearing in the Judiciary Committee just 14 days after President Reagan nominated him. ... We should have a hearing next week. The Judiciary Committee can debate and consider the nomination the following week and then the full Senate can debate and vote on his confirmation by the end of September. We have taken far less time in the past to confirm Supreme Court justices .... This is a problem of Senate Republicans’ making but it is also one they can solve – and they should do so without any further delay."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/08/16
"In 2008, in the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency, I convened two judicial nominations hearings during the month of September for a total of ten nominees. And the Senate confirmed all ten of those nominees later that same month, leaving no nominees pending on the floor and reducing the number of judicial vacancies to 34. With the number of vacancies currently at 90, now is not the time to shut down the confirmation process. The Committee should hold another nominations hearing this month and the Senate should vote on all the pending judicial nominations on the Senate floor as well as the nominees receiving hearings this month. There are seven lower court nominees who have the support of their home state Senators who are ready for a hearing. These include three nominees for the Western District of Washington, a court where 43 percent of the seats are vacant; three nominees to district courts in Florida who have the bipartisan support of their home state Senators; and one nominee to the District of Colorado who has the bipartisan support of her home state Senators. We should also have a hearing for the nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. These are important vacancies that require a second nominations hearing this month. As members of this Committee, our duty to work on judicial nominees does not end with their committee hearing. It is not enough to report these well-qualified nominees out of Committee but then leave them twisting in the wind because of obstruction by Senate Republicans. The 27 judicial nominees on the Executive Calendar, and the additional one I expect we will report out today, all have bipartisan support. They deserve a vote without further delay,"

Sen. Coons Floor Statement on Supreme Court Nomination of Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/08/16
"In the 100 years we have had a Judiciary Committee in the U.S. Senate, we have never had this situation, where the President does his job under the Constitution and nominates an eminently qualified jurist and the Senate Judiciary Committee refuses--just refuses--to conduct a hearing, to give a vote, to bring it to the floor, and to offer a final vote. ... President Obama fulfilled one of his most important constitutional responsibilities. Now all 100 Senators, on this 176th day that we are waiting to fill this 9th vacancy on the Supreme Court, must do our job and provide appropriate advice and possibly consent to the President's nominee. The Senate has a valuable opportunity to show our constituents, the American people, and the world that even in the midst of a divisive Presidential campaign, our democratic and constitutional system still works. We cannot allow yearlong Supreme Court vacancies to become routine"

Sen. Durbin To Senate GOP: Do Your Job, Give Supreme Court Nominee A Hearing And A Vote
(Democrat - Illinois) 09/08/16
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke on the Senate floor about Senate Republicans’ unprecedented obstruction of President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. 176 days after the President’s nomination, Durbin once again called on Senate Republicans to fulfill their constitutional duty and give Judge Garland a hearing and a vote. “On September 26th, the Court will hold the first conference of its new term, still with only eight justices. The Senate has had plenty of time to fill the vacancy, but Senate Republicans have refused to do their job,” said Durbin. “Unlike any other Senate in the history of the United States – in the history of this country – the Senate Republicans have refused a President’s nominee to the Supreme Court a fair hearing and a vote. It’s shameful. The Senate is failing to do its job under the Constitution, and the Senate Republicans, by design, are responsible. Judge Garland, the Supreme Court, and the American people deserve better. The Senate should give Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote.”

Sen. Klobuchar Floor Statement: Filling the Supreme Court Vacancy
(Democrat - Minnesota) 09/08/16
"I am focusing my remarks on the damage to our system of governance that is being done by leaving a seat open on our Nation's highest Court.... Look at the nominee we have. He is someone who has had broad support on both sides of the aisle. Senator Hatch once came before this body and said he challenged everyone to come to the floor to say something negative about Judge Garland. ... our job is to advise and consent on nominees to the Federal judiciary. So let's get our act together and do our job."

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement on 27 pending judicial nominees and Nomination of Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Illinois) 09/08/16
"There are 27 Federal judicial nominees whose nominations are pending before the Senate. One nomination that might be of interest to those who are following this debate is a nomination that goes back to October of 2015 of Edward L. Stanton III, of Tennessee. Now, we know the way the process works is that Mr. Stanton's name would not be on the calendar to be considered by the Senate were it not for the support of both Senators from Tennessee--in this case, both Republican Senators of Tennessee. So we have a nomination to fill a vacancy on a Federal district court of Tennessee that has been approved by both Republican Senators and reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in October of last year--almost 1 year ago.... he ran into a concerted, deliberate plan by Senate Republicans to stop filling judicial vacancies under President Barack Obama. There are 26 like him who have been reported from the committee .... Unfortunately, it means that for each of these nominees--starting with Mr. Stanton, 1 year ago--their lives are going to be on hold.... we are now up to 90 vacancies across the United States--a third of them are in emergency situations, which means that the courts cannot properly function because of the vacancies on the Federal bench. Despite this, the Senate Republicans refuse, being in control of the Senate, to call these names for consideration. They know they will pass. They are not controversial. They went through the committee, and they languish on the calendar because of this political decision."

Sen. Warren Floor Statement [on judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Massachusetts) 09/07/16
"Republicans who control the Senate are setting new records for obstruction by slowing the pace of judicial nominations to a crawl and leaving courts across this Nation overburdened and understaffed. I have listened as Senator McConnell has asserted that he is acting fairly on judges because more Obama judges have been confirmed than total George W. Bush judges. Here is my question: What kind of game does he think this is? At this point in time during the Bush administration, there were 42 judicial vacancies. Today, there are 90. At this point during the Bush administration, there were 13 judicial emergencies--vacancies in courts that are severely shorthanded and overburdened with cases. Today there are 32--more than twice as many vacancies, more than twice as many emergencies.... One of those nominees is Inga Bernstein, a highly regarded Massachusetts attorney who has spent years serving families, teachers, and workers. Ms. Bernstein is not controversial. She is supported by both Republicans and Democrats. ... it is disgraceful that Republicans are blocking confirmation of these judges. It is even more disgraceful that 18 additional nominees haven't even had hearings yet, including Merrick Garland, who has now waited longer than any Supreme Court nominee in the history of the United States to receive a confirmation vote, while our highest Court continues to deadlock on issue after issue of importance to this Nation. All we are asking for is the Senate Republicans to stop playing politics and do their job."

Sen. Hirono Floor Statement [on judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Hawaii) 09/07/16
"[T]here are currently 27 pending nominations on the Executive Calendar and 90 total judicial vacancies. More than half of these nominations have been waiting since 2015 for a confirmation vote. Hawaii's own Clare Connors was nominated to the Federal bench 1 year ago tomorrow. She is one of the nominees who would be skipped under the Republican leader's compromise offer, which is not a fair offer any way you look at it. Claire's resume is extensive and impressive.... We need to do our jobs."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/07/16
"The Judiciary Committee today welcomes five judicial nominees to fill emergency vacancies in Texas. One of these seats has been vacant for over three years, so this hearing is long overdue. In all, there are currently 10 district court vacancies in Texas, and another two at the circuit level. Each one of those 12 vacancies has been deemed an emergency. In fact, more than one-third of all judicial emergency vacancies are in Texas. While the national vacancy rate has doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent since Republicans took over the majority last year, the vacancy rate for Federal district courts in Texas is twice as high at an alarming 20 percent.... When I was chairman in the 2008 election year, this Committee held two hearings in September for 10 of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. Several of those nominees had been nominated just two months prior in July 2008. All 10 of those nominees were confirmed in one day that same month. The Committee’s work on circuit and district nominations must not stop today. I hope this Committee will hold second judicial nominations hearing this month, just as I convened two during the month of September in 2008. There are seven nominees with the support of their home state Senators for whom the Committee has received all necessary materials. These seven include three nominees for the Western District of Washington, a court where 43 percent of the seats are vacant; three nominees to district courts in Florida who have the bipartisan support of their home state Senators; and one nominee to the District of Colorado, whose home state Senators, one Democrat and one Republican, have written to the Chairman urging that she be listed on a committee hearing. We should also have a hearing for the nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. There is no good reason to allow any of these vacancies to remain open."

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On Judicial Nominations
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/06/16
"The Republican obstruction of Chief Judge Garland has diminished the Supreme Court and impacted millions of families across the country. ... The Republican obstruction and disregard for a co-equal branch of government also extends to the lower Federal courts. Since taking over the majority last year, Senate Republican inaction has allowed judicial vacancies to more than double and to reach 90 vacancies. This amounts to more than 10% of the Federal bench. Vacancies have reached what the Congressional Research Service calls “historically high” levels. The American people are left waiting for justice as the number of vacant seats pile up. Yet the Republican Leadership refuses to allow a vote on any of the 27 judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar. These nominees are the result of the President working with home state Senators – Republicans and Democrats – to make a nomination. And each of these nominees was voted out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. For example, the next Federal district court nominee ready for a vote is Edward Stanton from Tennessee. ... He has the support of both of his Republican home state senators and was voice voted out of the Judiciary Committee. Yet this excellent nominee, who has been serving the people of Tennessee as one of the state’s top Federal prosecutors, has been languishing on the floor since last October. ... In 2008, when George W. Bush was president and I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, this treatment of Mr. Stanton would not have happened. ... In September 2008, we confirmed 10 judicial nominees in one day, and not a single nominee was left on the Executive Calendar. Of those 10 nominees, nine had support from home state Republican Senators. ... Today, 13 judicial nominees from states represented by 16 Republican Senators are ready for confirmation votes. These nominees have been waiting two, three, even 10 months for a simple vote. I hope that these 16 Republican Senators are able to impress upon their leadership just how important it is to allow the Senate to do its job and vote on these nominees that would serve their States. I also hope that the Republican leadership will reconsider its outright refusal to allow a hearing and vote for Chief Judge Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court."

Sen. Reid: Senate Has a Mountain of Work to Do, And No Time to Do It
(Democrat - Nevada) 09/06/16
"How about the Supreme Court and judicial nominations? The Senate needs to give the United States Supreme Court a full complement of nine justices. Republicans still refuse to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote. Orrin Hatch, who opened the Senate a few minutes ago, has said that Merrick Garland is a consensus nomination. I don’t know if he forgot when he said it or didn’t mean it at the time – I think he did mean it at the time.... It’s not just the Supreme Court. Republicans have deadlocked our entire system of justice because of the Republican Senate’s dysfunction. This Republican Senate has confirmed the fewest circuit and district judges in decades. ... To show the American people’s absolute disgust with how Republicans have treated Merrick Garland’s nomination, starting today I’m objecting to nonessential committees meeting for other purposes until the Judiciary Committee schedules a meeting to consider Judge Garland’s nomination. If the Republican leader thinks there is a committee that needs to meet because of extraordinary circumstances, I would be pleased to consider his request. But in the meantime, as of today, I’m objecting to committees meeting in line with the rules of the Senate."

Senator Patrick Leahy on Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Vermont) 08/01/16
"The Constitution is very clear. It says the president shall nominate when there's a vacancy. 'Shall.' Not may. Not think about it. 'Shall.' The president fulfilled his constitutional duty," said Leahy." Every single senator when they take the oath of office, they stand and they say, 'We will uphold the Constitution of the United States so help me God.'" He called McConnell's blocking of the nomination "balderdash."

Sen. Feinstein: The Wrong Path on Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - California) 07/25/16
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: "Unfortunately, Judge Garland now has another distinction: due to unprecedented inaction by Senate Republicans, he has waited longer for a vote than any other Supreme Court nominee.... Republicans are setting another dangerous precedent: lower-court confirmations have slowed to a trickle in the final two years of a presidency. While this obstruction receives far less attention than the Supreme Court vacancy, it has a far-reaching effect on the ability of our lower courts to deliver justice. Confirming well-qualified nominees to these positions is one of the Senate’s most important responsibilities, as district and circuit courts handle the vast majority of federal cases. But this job is not getting done. During the last two years of the George W. Bush administration, a Democratic Senate reduced the number of vacancies. Sixty-eight district and circuit court nominees were confirmed. The number of vacancies was reduced to 34 by October 2008 — the month before the election.... But in the last two years of the Obama administration, just 20 district and circuit court nominees have been confirmed. The last time so few nominees were confirmed was 1952 — when the federal judiciary was one-third of its current size. Vacancies are skyrocketing due to the Senate’s inaction. Eighty-six judgeships are vacant, about 10 percent of the federal judiciary. There will be eight more vacancies by the end of the year — nearly three times as many as there were in October 2008. According to the Judicial Conference of the United States, 29 of these vacancies are judicial emergencies."

Sen. Reid Statement on Republicans’ Record-Breaking Obstruction of Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Nevada) 07/19/16
Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement as Judge Merrick Garland became the first Supreme Court nominee forced to wait 125 days for a hearing or vote. Because of Republican obstruction, Judge Garland has now waited longer than any Supreme Court nominee in history: “Today marks yet another shameful milestone for Senate Republicans. Despite his outstanding record and qualifications, Republicans have obstructed Judge Garland’s nomination in a way faced by no other Supreme Court nominee in our nation’s history..... Instead of taking the longest Senate vacation in more than 60 years .... Republicans should return to Washington and give Judge Garland the fair hearing and vote that he deserves.... The American people want a functioning judicial system and a full Supreme Court."

Sen. Leahy: Republicans’ Unprecedented Obstruction Makes Chief Judge Merrick Garland Longest Pending Supreme Court Nominee in U.S. History: Nomination Has Been Pending For 125 Days
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/19/16
“Republicans are making the wrong kind of history today,” Leahy said. “Their partisan and irresponsible obstruction of Chief Judge Garland’s nomination has led to a diminished Supreme Court that has left millions of families uncertain of their rights in important areas of the law. Republicans are abandoning their role under the Constitution for a short-sighted and partisan political hope that the Republican candidate for President will win in November. The American people deserve better.”

Sen. Reid: Republicans Leaving For Vacation With Work Not Done, Promises Not Kept
(Democrat - Nevada) 07/14/16
"As we get ready to adjourn for seven weeks, let’s look at just a few of the things that are being left behind.... How about the Supreme Court? Republicans still refuse to give Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote? ... What about basic American rights? What has Senator McConnell said or done about ensuring justice for the American people? Nothing. Here’s what one of the major publications said today. Headline: “McConnell’s historic judge blockade.”... This is nothing to be proud of. So the Republican Leader instituted a blockade of judicial nominations. He did it last year. Last year they made history by confirming the fewest judges since the 1950s. But they’ll do even less this year. Because of their obstruction, judicial emergencies – those courts are more cases than judges can handle – have more than doubled. That means Americans seeking justice are being denied their constitutional rights. Here’s the issue. I’ve been there, I’ve spent a lot of time in courts. That’s what I did. I was a trial lawyer. I can remember going to both the state courts but the federal court, and they said, we’re sorry. We’re going to do criminal cases for the next few months and not do anything with civil cases. Civil cases are just as important as criminal cases. But under what the Republicans have done, the judges are going to be forced, because of the law, to do criminal cases and put the civil cases to the back"

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/14/16
"[T]he Committee held an important judicial nominations hearing yesterday for a nominee to fill an emergency vacancy on the Ninth Circuit, Judge Lucy Koh, as well as a nominee to the Federal district court for the District of Columbia ... there is no reason why they should not have confirmation votes this year. I also expect that yesterday’s judicial nominations hearing will not be the last of this year, given the urgent need to fill the high number of judicial vacancies across the country.... When I was chairman in the 2008 election year, this Committee held two hearings in September 2008 for ten of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, several of whom had not even been nominated by this point in 2008. All ten of those nominees were confirmed that same month.... When Senate Republicans took over the majority last year, there were 43 judicial vacancies, 12 of which were emergency vacancies. Because of Republicans’ refusal to do their jobs, vacancies have nearly doubled to 83, and emergency vacancies have nearly tripled.... In sharp contrast, when Democrats controlled the Senate in the last two years of the Bush administration, we had reduced vacancies to 39 at this same point. Before the seven-week recess the Majority Leader has scheduled to begin next week, I hope the Chairman can persuade the Majority Leader to schedule confirmation votes on the more than two dozen judicial nominees pending on the Senate Executive Calendar. All of these nominees have bipartisan support and the support of their home state Senators. In fact, many of these nominees are from states with at least one Republican senator. They include nominees from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Indiana. The people of these states should rightfully ask why the Republican Leadership refuses to take the commonsense step of confirming these highly qualified and greatly needed judicial nominees with bipartisan support. Republicans are also failing our justice system and the American people by continuing their unprecedented blockade of Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination for the Supreme Court."

Sen. Leahy: Senate Republicans Leave Town, Refusing to Act on Judicial Backlog And Hurting Courts Across America
(Democrat - Vermont) 07/14/16
Despite repeated pleas by Democrats to confirm dozens of uncontroversial judicial nominees, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow these confirmation votes and is sending Senators out of town for seven weeks. Republicans have even blocked consideration of uncontroversial nominees who would fill vacancies in their home states. Their obstruction has resulted in justice delayed for Americans and a dramatic increase in the judicial vacancy rate. The Tennessee district court nominee, Edward Stanton, who is next on the Executive Calendar, was nominated more than a year ago. He was approved by Tennessee’s two Republican home state senators but they have not been able to get this Tennessean a vote. The Wisconsin nominee to fill a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit, Donald Schott, has been blocked repeatedly from consideration on the Senate floor. He would fill a vacancy that has been unfilled 2380 days. Schott’s nomination was approved by both Wisconsin Senators, including the state’s Republican senator, but he has not been able to convince the Republican Leader to allow the nominee a confirmation vote. Republicans have also repeatedly objected to floor consideration of nominees from Pennsylvania, Utah, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. This week, Republicans again refused to confirm a single one of the dozens of judicial nominees pending on the floor. The Republican majority has the worst record for confirming judicial nominees in the last 60 years, a fact highlighted in Politico today. Since taking over the majority last January, Senate Republicans have allowed just 22 judicial nominees to be confirmed. In contrast, in the last two years of the Bush administration, a Democratic-majority Senate confirmed 68 judicial nominees.... When Senate Republicans took over the majority last year, there were 43 judicial vacancies. Since then, vacancies have nearly doubled to 83. The number of judicial vacancies deemed to be “emergencies” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has significantly increased under Republican Senate leadership – from 12 when Republicans took over last year to 29 today. “Republicans should shift their focus from partisan political hopes to the Constitution and our role as Senators,” Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Thursday.