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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Blumenthal on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 02/26/17
“I will do everything I can in terms of legal action outside of the Senate as well as being relentless within the Senate to stop and to resist any infringement on the power of the courts,” he said. “We can talk about alternative facts. But nobody is above the law.”... “Let me just clarify,” he said. “I will use the filibuster. I will use every tool at our disposal to fight a nominee who will change the balance of power on the court, and who is out of the mainstream.” “I haven’t taken a public position on Gorsuch,” Blumenthal added, “but remember, the president who nominated him established a set of litmus tests: the nominee has to be pro-life, very pro-Second Amendment, and of a conservative bent. Judge Gorsuch has an obligation to answer those questions, and if he doesn’t, we have to assume that he passes the Trump litmus test. And if that’s the case, I would use the filibuster. I would use every tool at my disposal.”

Sens. Young, Donnelly Hold Off Committing on Gorsuch Till After Hearings
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/24/17
Donnelly says he won't decide how to vote until after Gorsuch's confirmation hearings next month -- but Republican Todd Young says the same, though he says he's "highly impressed" after meeting with Gorsuch. He calls the federal appeals judge a constitutionalist with impeccable credentials. Donnelly met with the judge as well, and says he's been reading through Gorsuch's legal writings -- he says the nominee is "very smart," but says he'll be listening for a sense of whether Gorsuch would try to advance a partisan agenda on the Court.

Sen. Shaheen on Gorusch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/24/17
Shaheen did face some booing when she declared that federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, the President’s nominee to fill the high court vacancy, “will have a hearing, despite what Republicans did on Merrick Garland.” “It’s not in our interest to deny a hearing for Neil Gorsuch. That’s what’s proscribed in the Constitution. I’m not going to go out to say it was wrong for them and then right for us,” the Democratic senator from Madbury continued. But Shaheen predicted that “it will require 60 votes to pass the next Supreme Court judge.” … Hassan agreed with Shaheen, saying “I think it’s absolutely appropriate and right for us to do our constitutional duty and do our hearing.” Both senators seemed to indicate they’re leaning towards voting no on the President’s nominee. “I’m not going to support somebody who I believe is not going to address those major concerns I have for the court,” Shaheen declared.

Sen. Feinstein on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/24/17
Feinstein also pushed up against the protesters when she refused to say how she would vote on Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court. As the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I don’t announce what I’m going to do before the hearing,” she said. “I don’t believe that’s right.” But the crowd erupted in boos when she said that she had a good conversation with Gorsuch, with protesters suggesting Feinstein shouldn’t even have met with him. The senator said her two biggest concerns with Gorsuch, or any other Supreme Court nominee, are his views on gun control and women’s reproductive rights. But politics also will play a role, she admitted. The Republican refusal to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat Gorsuch is seeking, “sticks in our craw,” she said. “It’s hard to forget.”

Sen. Hassan on Gorusch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/24/17
Shaheen did face some booing when she declared that federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, the President’s nominee to fill the high court vacancy, “will have a hearing, despite what Republicans did on Merrick Garland.” “It’s not in our interest to deny a hearing for Neil Gorsuch. That’s what’s proscribed in the Constitution. I’m not going to go out to say it was wrong for them and then right for us,” the Democratic senator from Madbury continued. But Shaheen predicted that “it will require 60 votes to pass the next Supreme Court judge.” … Hassan agreed with Shaheen, saying “I think it’s absolutely appropriate and right for us to do our constitutional duty and do our hearing.” Both senators seemed to indicate they’re leaning towards voting no on the President’s nominee. “I’m not going to support somebody who I believe is not going to address those major concerns I have for the court,” Shaheen declared.

Sen. Murphy on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Connecticut) 02/23/17
One asked Murphy whether he will vote to confirm President Donald J. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, whose Senate hearing begins March 20. Murphy met with the Republican president’s pick last week, is now reviewing his record and plans to come to a decision in the coming weeks or months. “He’s very impressive, he’s very thoughtful, he’s very smart,” Murphy said. “My concern — and this would be my concern with any judge not just Judge Gorsuch — is that I don’t want a judge bringing their politics into the Supreme Court. I want a judge who can interpret the law and not be activist.”

Sen. Murray on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Washington) 02/23/17
Murray said she had never pledged a filibuster. Later an aide clarified that the option isn’t off the table, but said the senator isn’t actively planning on the move. Speaking generally of Trump’s nominees, Murray said, “We have a responsibility to meet with them, to evaluate them, to really see what their philosophy is, what their personal experience is. And to then decide our votes on that.” Still, Murray said, Trump’s nominees, and especially for the Supreme Court, need extra scrutiny by virtue of their association with the president. “I am very concerned about any nominee at this time because we have a president who … believes that he is more important than the law,” she said.

Sen. Peters on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 02/21/17
Peters, who has met with Gorsuch, said he has an "open mind" about the judge but was noncommittal on whether he should get an up-or-down vote. He said some of Gorsuch's rulings "raise some flags." "Certainly he brings a set of qualifications to the job. My problem with him may deal more with some of his judicial philosophy. But again I'm going to wait for a final decision as I hear more," Peters said Tuesday after a Vietnam-era veterans event in Lansing.

Trump caved to far-right demands on SCOTUS pick, says Bob Casey after meeting Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Pennsylvania) 02/16/17
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., may have shared a few laughs on Thursday with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, but he walked away with concerns about the judge's candidacy for the high court. Casey excoriated President Trump's "decision to give in to" the demands of far-right groups to select a nominee for the high court from their "approved list" in exchange for support. "President Trump's decision to give in to their demand and choose from only their list of nominees was unprecedented," Casey said, in a written statement. "It is essential that the next Supreme Court justice be truly independent so the court can fulfill its vital institutional role in our system of checks and balances. The decisions made by the next Supreme Court Justice will be extraordinarily consequential; the next Justice will be the deciding vote on a range of cases impacting the lives of tens of millions of Americans for a generation or more." With his confirmation hearing scheduled for March 20, Gorsuch on Thursday continued to make the rounds on Capitol Hill meeting with Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. He met with Casey's Republican counterpart Sen. Pat Toomey on Tuesday. "I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Judge Gorsuch today," Casey said. "I discussed with him some real concerns I have about his judicial philosophy and some of his opinions as a 10th Circuit Judge that were in conflict with federal agency decisions focused on protecting the health and safety of workers." ... Casey said that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts had ruled overwhelmingly in favor of big corporations and that Gorsuch's judicial record suggests he may continue that trend. "I discussed with Judge Gorsuch some of his decisions pertaining to critical civil rights laws protecting individuals with disabilities, like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," Casey said. "The rights of those with disabilities, particularly the right to an equal education, must be vigorously protected by the courts." Casey said he would continue to review Gorsuch's record and follow his answers to questions during his hearing before the Judiciary Committee in March, as well as his written responses to questions.

Sen. Baldwin meets Gorsuch, restates her opposition
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 02/16/17
After meeting Thursday with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said the two had a "respectful and thoughtful conversation," but she reiterated her plans to vote against him and to support a filibuster against his nomination. “I found Judge Gorsuch to be very smart and we discussed a number of his rulings that I continue to have deep concerns about, including decisions against disabled students, against workers, and against women’s reproductive health care,” Baldwin said in a statement. “I will not support a Supreme Court nominee who has too often favored big business over workers and retirees. I also believe people deserve a Supreme Court justice who will protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Americans. I don’t have confidence Judge Gorsuch is that nominee.”... In her statement after meeting Gorsuch on Thursday, Baldwin said: “I was pleased to meet with Judge Gorsuch and we had a respectful and thoughtful conversation about his record and his nomination by President Trump to our nation’s highest court. In our meeting, we discussed President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary and Judge Gorsuch’s private comments about them." Baldwin was referring to private comments Gorsuch had made to senators lamenting attacks on the judiciary. "I told him that I believe such attacks are wrong," said Baldwin. "But I also told him that a judge who is strong and independent should not be demoralized by the president's tweets. The president and his administration have continued to attack judges since Judge Gorsuch made his private comments and I encouraged him to publicly call these attacks what they are, wrong."

Sen. Whitehouse Statement on Meeting with Gorsuch
(Democrat - Rhode Island) 02/15/17
“I was glad Judge Gorsuch and I could meet today. I have heard a number of concerns from Rhode Islanders about his nomination and we covered a great deal of ground. In recent years, the Supreme Court has delivered one 5-4 decision after another, benefiting the Republican Party’s political operation in three big ways: helping them win elections by rolling back campaign finance and voter protections; helping the Party’s corporate backers by punishing unions and workers; and delivering far-right social policy that Congress would not pass. These conservative political victories should not be confused with conservative judicial philosophy. Indeed, in some cases, these decisions have been plainly activist and in direct opposition to a typical conservative jurist’s reading of the Constitution, like the Seventh Amendment guarantee of access to a civil jury or the Fifth and Fourteenth’s guarantee of due process. Chief Justice Roberts promised to merely ‘call balls and strikes.’ Then, the conservative bloc of five Justices became a political wrecking crew. Rhode Islanders want the Senate to confirm a Justice who will faithfully serve the Court and serve the law, not serve the special interests of the Republican Party. To win my support, Judge Gorsuch will have to convince me that he will stand up to the sort of political giveaways to Republicans that have been the hallmark of the Roberts Court.”

Sen. Shaheen Statement Following Her Meeting with U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 02/15/17
“My meeting with Judge Gorsuch was a valuable opportunity to discuss the critical role that our judiciary has in America’s system of checks and balances,” said Shaheen. “I expressed to Judge Gorsuch my strong view that the independence of the Supreme Court is paramount and I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about his judicial philosophy. I voiced my support for women’s reproductive rights and the important precedent of the Roe v. Wade decision. I also expressed my concern about the dramatic increase of secret money in politics in the wake of the Citizens United decision. I look forward to reviewing his public testimony during the nomination process.”

Sen. Durbin Meets With President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/14/17
“At this pivotal time in our history, the Supreme Court must be an independent check on the Executive branch—its Justices must be unafraid to stand up to the President in the name of the Constitution and the rule of law. With a dizzying array of legal and constitutional disputes already haunting this White House, the Senate will not simply hand President Trump the deciding vote on cases that bring his Administration before the Supreme Court. I will insist that President Trump’s nominee be held to the same 60 vote threshold as past nominees have met,” said Durbin.

Sen. Donnelly Meets with Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/14/17
Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after meeting with Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Donnelly and Gorsuch talked about Gorsuch’s experience as a judge, his judicial philosophy, and his thoughts on judicial independence. Donnelly said, “Judge Gorsuch and I had a thoughtful conversation. I had the chance to ask him questions, discuss his views on the role of the Supreme Court, and hear about his experience on the federal bench. “I take my responsibility seriously to consider judicial nominees, including to the Supreme Court. As I have said, part of my job as Senator is to meet, consider, debate, and vote on judicial nominations. I will continue to carefully review Judge Gorsuch’s record and qualifications in the coming weeks and will be following his hearing before the Judiciary Committee.”

Sen. Leahy: Ensuring Judicial Independence Will Require SENATE Independence
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/13/17
"In light of the unconstitutional actions of our new President, the Senate owes the American people a thorough and unsparing examination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. That should include at least four days of hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee where senators can ask questions of the nominee and also hear from multiple panels of outside witnesses. With the ideological litmus test that President Trump has applied in making this selection, the American people are justified to wonder whether Judge Gorsuch can truly be independent of the President who nominated him, and the moneyed interests that hand-picked him. This question can only be answered in an open and transparent process in the Senate Judiciary Committee, in contrast to the backroom and unilateral decision to deny Chief Judge Garland a hearing."

Charles Schumer: Judge Gorsuch, We Won’t Be Fooled Again
(Democrat - New York) 02/10/17
"The bar is always high to achieve a seat on the Supreme Court, but in these unusual times — when there is unprecedented stress on our system of checks and balances — the bar is even higher for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to demonstrate independence. In order to clear it, he will have to convince 60 of my colleagues that he will not be influenced by politics, parties or the president. The judiciary is the last and most important check on an overreaching president with little respect for the rule of law. The only way to demonstrate the independence necessary is for Judge Gorsuch to answer specific questions about the judiciary and his judicial philosophy.... But over the course of an hour, he refused to answer even the most rudimentary questions.... The overarching lesson of Chief Justice Roberts can be summed up in a familiar phrase: Fool me once, shame on them; fool me twice, shame on me.... A truly independent judge would have the fortitude to condemn the president’s remarks, not just express disapproval, and to do it publicly."

Sen. Manchin on Garland and Gorsuch Supreme Court nominations
(Democrat - West Virginia) 02/10/17
He was asked about Gorsuch. Some Democrats were clamoring to block Gorsuch the way Republicans had obstructed Obama’s pick for the court. “It truly was an embarrassment the way Mitch McConnell treated a really accomplished jurist and a decent person in Merrick Garland,” Manchin said. “But I don’t know if two wrongs make a right.”

[VIDEO] Sen Coons on President Trump’s response to Judge Gorsuch’s comments: “The larger issue here is that judicial independence is at risk”
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/09/17
"Frankly what matters here is whether or not Judge Gorsuch, who will be up for confirmation for the Supreme Court, in meetings with Senators and then ultimately publicly demonstrates judicial independence, demonstrates his understanding that an independent judiciary is one of the cornerstones of our constitutional order, and that President Trump’s recent comments personally attacking or challenging judges, who are delaying or may ultimately overturn his travel ban, deserve respect not to be attacked.... In my meeting with Judge Gorsuch, I will also ask him about judicial independence and I think, in due course, we will ask him about that during the confirmation hearing.... The larger issue is that judicial independence is at risk. ... I think President Trump is going to harm both Judge Gorsuch’s chances of confirmation and his standing as president if he continues to undermine the independence of the federal judiciary.”

Sen. Donnelly Statement on Meeting with President Trump
(Democrat - Indiana) 02/09/17
“We had a productive and wide-ranging discussion on preventing the outsourcing of American jobs, addressing the opioid abuse epidemic, and we also talked about Supreme Court nominee, Judge Gorsuch. Hoosiers hired me to do a job: to represent everybody in our state and work hard to do what’s best for Hoosier families—and this was a good opportunity to talk about a number of issues important to Hoosiers and our country.”

Sen. Heitkamp Statement Following Bipartisan Lunch with President Trump
(Democrat - North Dakota) 02/09/17
“We also talked about the need for any infrastructure package to include improving access to high-speed internet in rural communities as I’ve long pushed for, the importance of combating the opioid crisis across the country, and the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court who I met with yesterday.”

Sen. McCaskill Meets Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - Missouri) 02/08/17
Senator Claire McCaskill, a former Jackson County Prosecutor, today met with Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee—and released the following statement: “I was glad for the opportunity to sit down with Judge Gorsuch and hear more about his record and his views, and I’m looking forward to seeing his confirmation hearing."

Sen. Heitkamp Meets with U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch
(Democrat - North Dakota) 02/08/17
“One of the most important roles of a U.S. senator is to vet nominees to fill vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court through meetings and Senate hearings, and I take that job very seriously,” said Heitkamp. “Unfortunately, Senate Republicans broke tradition and historical precedent in refusing to give Judge Merrick Garland the full and fair consideration he deserved when he was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, forcing his nomination to languish for almost 300 days – by far the longest that a Supreme Court nomination has been held open. Unlike my colleagues, I believe my duty of advice and consent in these matters remains the same regardless of which party is in the White House – it is our job as U.S. Senators to perform this function and not play politics. That’s why I met with Judge Gorsuch today, and I appreciate him taking the time to come by my office. We had a thorough conversation about the importance of the rule of law and of a judiciary that is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government. We also talked about Indian law and treaties, fixing our criminal justice system, and empathy on the bench—a fundamental trait when the poor and underprivileged in North Dakota and beyond don’t have the same access to the courts as those who are better off.”

Sen. Stabenow on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Michigan) 02/07/17
“I have deep concerns about Judge Gorsuch and the impact his rulings would have on Michigan families,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Although Republicans for over a year refused to do their job and blocked the previous Supreme Court nominee, I take my responsibilities as a senator seriously and plan to meet with him and thoroughly review his record.”

(Democrat - Montana) 02/06/17
"Every Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair shake, and the same goes for Judge Gorsuch. We had a productive meeting, and I will continue to review his qualifications and get feedback from Montanans about his nomination to our nation's top court. As I continue to review his body of work, I will be looking to ensure he understands Montana and our challenges, as well as the Constitution and that he is committed to protecting our freedoms." Following the meeting, Tester expressed concerns about Gorsuch's record on women's access to health care. In the meeting, Tester also questioned Gorsuch on a series of topics that are likely to come before the court, including corporate influence in campaigns, civil liberties, and protecting Montana's clean air and water.

Sen. Leahy Comment On Partisan Attacks On The Federal Judiciary
(Democrat - Vermont) 02/04/17
“We need an Attorney General, like Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, willing to lose his or her job to do the right thing. And we need a nominee for the Supreme Court willing to demonstrate he or she will not cower to an overreaching executive. This makes it even more important that Judge Gorsuch, and every other judge this president may nominate, demonstrates the ability to be an independent check and balance on an administration that shamefully and harmfully seems to reject the very concept.”

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement: Nomination of Neil Gorsuch [and 60 vote margin]
(Democrat - Illinois) 02/02/17
[S627] "Even though my Republican colleagues chose to ignore their responsibilities when it came to filling that Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, I know we have a constitutional responsibility to give Judge Gorsuch a hearing and a vote.... He was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006, but the level of scrutiny is far higher for Supreme Court nominees and lifetime appointments to the High Court. He now has a lengthy judicial record which we will review carefully. There are parts of his record that already raise questions and concerns. In recent years, we have watched the Supreme Court transform into a corporate Court, where all too often cases seem to break for the big corporations, regularly against the little guy. We need a Supreme Court that gives the American people a fair shot against corporate elites, corporate special interests. Judge Gorsuch's record as a judge and advocate raises concerns as to whether he would hasten that trend toward a corporate court.... Judge Gorsuch appears to have a consistent pattern of favoring companies over workers in cases involving employment discrimination, worker safety, and other matters. ... Is he going to bend toward the corporate interests and look the other way as we face climate change, the pollution of streams, the contamination of our drinking water, and dangers to our public health? ... Since the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, Supreme Court Justices have had to show they can pass the threshold of 60 votes to get confirmed. I expect nothing less from this nominee."

Sen. Carper Floor Statement on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination & 60 vote margin
(Democrat - Delaware) 02/02/17
"I think the way Merrick Garland was treated was outrageous, and he was roundly praised by Democrats and Republican, Members of this body, alike. The fact that he never got a vote I think is appalling. It runs against everything I was taught to believe. ... Two wrongs don't make a right. Folks on our side believe--although deeply troubled by the way the last nominee for the last administration was treated--this nominee deserves a hearing. My hope is that he gets one and there is time set aside to prepare for that hearing. My hope is that he will take the time to come and meet with us, particularly those of us who have concerns about his nomination. I think he should be subject to the same 60-vote margin the last several Supreme Court nominees were subjected to and passed; I think in one case it was 62 votes, and in another case, 63 votes."

Sen. Nelson unsure about Gorsuch for high court
(Democrat - Florida) 02/02/17
After a bland, non-committal statement Tuesday night minutes after President Donald Trump unveiled Gorsuch, Nelson turned more negative on the Colorado judge Thursday. “Of course, I’m going to talk to him and listen to the Judiciary Committee hearing,” Nelson said in the more recent statement issued by his office. “But I have real concerns about what I believe are two of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: the right to vote and the right to know who you are voting for,” he continued. “And I specifically want to know how the judge feels about the suppression of voting rights and about the amount of undisclosed, unlimited money in campaigns.”

Sen. Baldwin will vote no on Trump pick Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court
(Democrat - Wisconsin) 02/02/17
Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said Thursday she would oppose President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Baldwin asserted that Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Colorado, did not have a “mainstream record,” and she cited judicial rulings of his on cases involving disabled students, workers and women’s reproductive health. “It’s a record that is going to make it hard for Trump and (Gorsuch) to earn bipartisan support,” said Baldwin. “I think the American people deserve an independent Supreme Court Justice who is going to protect constitutional rights,” she said. Baldwin also said she would not be one of the 60 votes Gorsuch would need to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.

Sen. Schumer Floor Statement: NOMINATION OF NEIL GORSUCH [& 60 vote threshold]
(Democrat - New York) 02/02/17
"We in the Senate have a constitutional duty to examine the record of Judge Gorsuch robustly, exhaustively, and comprehensively, and then advise and consent, as we see fit. We have a responsibility to reject if we do not. We Democrats will insist on a rigorous but fair process. Part of that process entails 60 votes for confirmation. Any one Democrat can require it. Many already have. It was a bar met by each of Obama's nominations; each received 60 votes. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do. And I would note that a 60-vote threshold was reached by each of them either in cloture or in the actual vote. On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support is essential and should be a prerequisite. That is what a 60- vote threshold does; 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate. And the need for a mainstream consensus candidate is greater now than ever before because we are in major new territory in two ways. First, because the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roberts, has shown increasing drift to become a more and more pro-business Court-- siding more and more with corporations, employers, and special interests over working and average Americans--we need a mainstream nominee to help reverse that trend, not accelerate it.... Second, given that this administration--at least at its outset--seems to have less respect for the rule of law than any in recent memory and is testing the very fabric of our Constitution within the first 20 days, there is a special burden on this nominee to be an independent jurist, someone who approaches the Court without ideological blinders, who has a history of operating outside and above politics, and who has the strength of will to stand up to a President who has already shown a willingness to bend the Constitution.... Changing the rules for something as important as the Supreme Court gets rid of the tradition, eliminates the tradition of mainstream nominees who have bipartisan support. It would be so, so wrong to do. I know many of my colleagues on the other side are hesitant to do it, and I hope they will remain strong in that regard."