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Judging the Environment judicial nominations photo

A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Floor Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/29/16
"[F]or the past two years the Republican Party has enjoyed solid majorities in both the House and Senate. They control the schedule and the process. They can decide which legislation to call up for debate, and frankly for all intents and purposes, they can decide whether anything gets done around here. A good example is the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. If he had been treated like other Supreme Court nominees throughout the entire history of this country, he would have received a hearing and a vote and he almost certainly would have been easily confirmed just as he was when he was nominated to the DC Court of Appeals. Instead, the Republican leadership did not even give Judge Garland a hearing, much less a vote. The Republican Senators refused to do their job."

Sen. Murphy on Supreme Court vacancy
(Democrat - Connecticut) 11/21/16
“I think we still need to talk about the fact that they essentially stole this Supreme Court seat from President Obama,” said Murphy. “Republicans ended 200 years of precedent by denying (Garland) the right to a hearing and a vote.” Although payback does not appear to be in the cards, Blumenthal, Murphy and other Democrats promise an exacting probe of any nominee’s legal views, as well as vigilance in the face of the inevitable “confirmation conversion” — backpedaling by nominees on past controversial writings and opinions.

Sen. Blumenthal intends to fight hard on Supreme Court battle
(Democrat - Connecticut) 11/21/16
“The next few years likely will shape the future of the Supreme Court for decades to come,” said Blumenthal, Connecticut’s former attorney general, who argued four cases on the state’s behalf before the Supreme Court. “The scrutiny appropriate for these selections will be exacting and demanding, and I intend to be at the forefront.” ... “A nominee who comes before the Judiciary Committee and says, in effect, ‘I’d sweep away the protections of women’s health and the right of privacy’ would face some difficult questioning from me,” said Blumenthal.

Sen. Schumer on Supreme Court nominee filibuster rule
(Democrat - New York) 11/16/16
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said nominations to the high court should get support from both parties, and said the filibuster is a way to enforce that on a president. He pointedly noted that when his party changed filibuster rules three years ago, they left intact the ability to filibuster at the Supreme Court level. “I’ll underline that we did not change the rules for Supreme Court because we thought on something as important as this, there should be some degree of bipartisan agreement,” Mr. Schumer said.

Sen. Leahy To Serve As Vice Chairman Of Senate Appropriations Committee
(Democrat - Vermont) 11/16/16
“I do not come to this decision lightly. Both the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee are on the front lines of so many of today’s pressing issues. These include the priorities we decide in funding the federal government in our annual appropriations bills, and the future of the Supreme Court. And as the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will continue to offer a strong and outspoken voice in defending our Constitution, protecting and promoting human and civil rights, defending Americans’ privacy, and fighting for judicial independence."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Becoming Judiciary Committee Ranking Member
(Democrat - California) 11/16/16
"One of our first orders of business will be the consideration of a new attorney general and a new Supreme Court justice. After the unprecedented and disrespectful treatment of Merrick Garland—a moderate judge who should have been quickly confirmed—the committee will pay very close attention to proposed nominees to ensure the fundamental constitutional rights of Americans are protected. “When President-elect Trump is willing to support responsible policies and nominees, I’ll hear him out, but this committee has a vital role to protect the Constitution and scrutinize policies, senior officials and judges very carefully, and that’s what we intend to do. We simply won’t stand aside and watch the tremendous successes achieved over the past eight years be swept away or allow our nation’s most vulnerable populations to be targeted."

Sen. Merkley: Senate stole SCOTUS appointment from Obama
(Democrat - Oregon) 11/11/16
Sen. Jeff Merkley said the Senate stole a Supreme Court appointment from President Barack Obama. "One of the things I'm very concerned about is the Supreme Court seat. The appointment of this seat rightly belongs in the hands of President Obama," ... "What the majority in the Senate has done is to basically steal that from one presidency and try to deliver it to another, which is going to greatly and profoundly affect the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. And that's doing major damage to an essential institution in our country's vision." ... "The theft is under way," he said. "It's not quite complete until the transition of power takes place. I hope my colleagues who never really anticipated that they would succeed." "And I know many of them are privately deeply ashamed of what they've been pushed into doing by their leadership, by the Koch brothers and their associates who really went in and said we want you to do something unprecedented in US History: Take a Supreme Court seat under our constitution, assigned to one president, and move it to another," he added. But despite the recent presidential election, things do not have to end for Garland, he said. "And so I'm hoping that people will recognize what damage is being done, there's still time to -- to hold a vote on Merrick Garland and save the institution," Merkley said.

Sen. Manchin on Supreme Court nominees
(Democrat - West Virginia) 11/01/16
“I will give fair consideration to all Supreme Court nominees under any president and will evaluate their qualifications, legal record and judicial philosophy,” Joe Manchin said in a prepared statement. “I believe any nominee deserves to be questioned by a Senate committee, meet with Senators and have their qualifications debated on the Senate floor.”

Sen. Leahy Comments On The Alarming Calls By Some Republicans For Permanent Obstruction Of Judicial Nominees, Incl. SCOTUS
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/27/16
“Eight months ago Republican senators attempted to justify their unprecedented obstruction of a Supreme Court nominee by claiming that the American people needed to be heard through the election. Now that we are on the eve of that democratic moment, some at last are making clear that this justification was simply a political farce. .... These Republicans are proving that they have no intention of doing their jobs and that their blockade of judicial nominees is purely driven by politics. “This amounts to piecemeal evisceration of the Constitution. I hope that reasonable Republicans will repudiate these calls for wholesale and enduring obstruction and get back to work to address skyrocketing judicial vacancies. Americans should not accept a Senate that has done almost nothing to address the vacancy crisis in courts throughout our country. Senators should honor their oaths of office and keep their word to the American people.”

(Democrat - Minnesota) 10/04/16
“It has now been more than 200 days since Judge Garland was nominated to the Supreme Court - making him the longest pending nominee in history – and we still haven’t had a hearing or much less a vote. As a result, the Supreme Court will start its new term without a full bench. This will likely mean more split decisions, diminished decisions, delayed decisions, or no decisions on many important issues facing our country. Judge Garland is an exemplary jurist who has received praise from both sides of the aisle during his career. The Senate needs to do its job and give Judge Garland the hearing and up-or-down vote on his nomination that he deserves.”

Sen. Leahy: As Republicans’ Unprecedented Obstruction Continues, A Diminished Supreme Court Begins Its New Term With Only Eight Justices
(Democrat - Vermont) 10/04/16
“Despite what the Republican Leader has said, there is absolutely no reason to be proud that the Supreme Court is now, for a second term, diminished,” Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “A Supreme Court of only eight justices is unacceptable and Americans deserve better. Americans should not accept a Senate that has done almost nothing to address the vacancy crisis in courts throughout our country.” He added: “Senate Republicans should be working across the aisle to ensure that our independent federal judiciary can function. Instead, Republicans have refused to do their jobs and they have left town, avoiding their responsibilities to the American people and the independent judiciary that serves them.”

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Supreme Court’s New Term
(Democrat - California) 10/04/16
“The Supreme Court today heard the first oral argument of the new term. Due to unprecedented Republican obstruction, the Court begins its term with only eight justices for the first time in 25 years. “Since Justice Scalia’s death, the Court has tied seven times. Two other times it has punted on important issues because the Justices could not reach agreement. These cases have already affected businesses, individuals and families nationwide. “There is a great potential for deadlock, and a deadlocked Supreme Court is no Court at all. It can’t perform its most important function—resolving disputes between lower courts and ensuring clarity in federal law. We are already seeing reports that the Court is avoiding cases to prevent 4-4 ties, and that’s not how the highest Court in our land should be forced to operate. “Judge Merrick Garland’s qualifications are impeccable. I’ve met with him twice and there is no one better suited to be a Supreme Court Justice. Senate Republicans are doing real damage to the institution and undermining our federal judiciary with their actions and I would hope Judge Garland is swiftly confirmed in the lame duck session.”

Sen. Tester on Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - Montana) 10/03/16
"Before Congress left town, I took to the Senate floor and urged my colleagues to stay in session and address important issues for folks across the country. But my words fell on deaf ears, and after this upcoming five-week recess, Congress is on pace to work the least amount of days in 60 years.... the entire nation is waiting for the Senate to vote on a Supreme Court nominee. In our nation’s history, it has never taken longer to fill a Supreme Court vacancy."

Sen. Durbin on pending judicial nominees
(Democrat - Illinois) 10/03/16
But isn’t it hypocritical for Republicans to tee up their favorite son judges to fill local benches while keeping a seat on the Supreme Court empty? “Of course it is,” Sen. Dick Durbin told The Daily Beast. “Here it is, the Supreme Court of the United States, which is already having problems because of a four to four tie, they won’t fill that vacancy and now they’re talking about other federal court judges?” “I’ll take what we can get in terms of filling these spots on the bench, because a third of the vacant seats are emergencies that should be filled,” Durbin said. “But it’s not fair to Merrick Garland, and it’s totally inconsistent with the history of the Senate.”

Sen. Tester: U.S. Congress may set record for skipping out on work
(Democrat - Montana) 10/03/16
Sen. Jon Tester, Op-Ed: "Before Congress left town, I took to the Senate floor and urged my colleagues to stay in session and address important issues for folks across the country. But my words fell on deaf ears, and after this upcoming five-week recess, Congress is on pace to work the least amount of days in 60 years.... the entire nation is waiting for the Senate to vote on a Supreme Court nominee. In our nation’s history, it has never taken longer to fill a Supreme Court vacancy."

Sen. Reid Statement on Supreme Court Declining to Rehear Obama Immigration Case
(Democrat - Nevada) 10/03/16
"“The court’s decision today further highlights how a shorthanded Supreme Court is unable to do its job. By continuing their historic, unprecedented obstruction of Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination, Republicans are spreading gridlock and denying justice to the American people. “Republicans’ obstruction has a real impact on the millions of families who continue to live in constant fear of being needlessly torn apart."

Sen. Shaheen Floor Statement:
(Democrat - New Hampshire) 09/27/16
[Page S6118] "The current vacancy was created more than 200 days ago. President Obama nominated Judge Garland more than 7 months ago. I am joining my colleagues on the floor this afternoon to urge the majority party and the leadership of this body to give Judge Garland a hearing, to give him a vote. It is time to extend to Judge Garland the same fair treatment the Senate has given to every other person previously nominated to the Supreme Court by an elected President during a Presidential election year."

Sen. Blumenthal: Senate Democrats: No Vote on Garland Nomination, No Recess
(Democrat - Connecticut) 09/27/16
“Congress has no excuse for leaving town without meeting its Constitutional obligation: filling a Supreme Court vacancy. This dereliction of duty is fundamentally damaging to our democracy and Members of Congress should be held accountable,” Blumenthal said. “Chief Judge Garland should have been confirmed by now. We have already had more than six months to examine the nominee’s record, and it is not as if the Senate has been consumed with considering other nominees. The last time we confirmed a judicial nominee was on July 6th, yet despite our efforts to make progress in filling vacancies, Republicans refuse to act. They have ignored their own calls for regular order and our independent Federal judiciary is suffering as a result,” Leahy said. “It should not require a resolution to keep us accountable to the oath we all swore to uphold the Constitution, but this is where Senate Republicans have led us. It is long past time for the Senate to do its job."

Sen. Coons Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland [and other judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Delaware) 09/27/16
[Page S6116] "We should start by holding public hearings, by letting the people of the United States understand what, if any, questions or concerns there might be about this talented, capable, decent man, Judge Merrick Garland, who has been nominated to the Supreme Court, and then build on that momentum by giving timely, thorough consideration to the President's other nominees for judgeships across the country. With 89 judicial vacancies--with 89 current judicial vacancies--from district courts to courts of appeals, to the U.S. Supreme Court itself, our inaction doesn't just create uncertainty for those involved, it impairs our courts and actively harms our constitutional commitment to justice."

Sen. Klobuchar Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Minnesota) 09/27/16
[Page S6116] "Our job under the Constitution is to advise and consent. It is not to advise and consent only after a Presidential election has occurred. This has been our practice in the Senate for more than a century. For more than 100 years the Senate has had a process that worked under both Democratic and Republican Presidents and even in--yes--Presidential years."

Sen. Schumer Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland
(Democrat - New York) 09/27/16
[Page S6115] " Unlike their promise to ``get the Senate back to work,'' they have kept their promise not to do their jobs when it comes to the Supreme Court and so many other issues. ... Seven months later, I again say to my Republican colleagues, to the distinguished majority leader, and to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee: Schedule a hearing and a vote on Judge Garland. Because you refuse to do your job, the people's business is not getting done."

Sen. Murray Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Washington) 09/27/16
[Page S6114] "After 195 days of being one Justice short on the Supreme Court of the United States, I urge our colleagues to fulfill our constitutional responsibility, hold a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, and give him a vote."

Sen. Cantwell, Senate Democrats: No Vote on Garland Nomination, No Recess
(Democrat - Washington) 09/27/16
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 40 other Democratic Senators in calling for a hearing and a vote on the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland before adjourning for another Republican-scheduled recess.

Sen. Booker Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland [and other judicial nominees]
(Democrat - New Jersey) 09/27/16
[Page S6115] "It has been 7 months since Chief Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, and it is still pending. It has been about 19 months since Judge Julien Neals was nominated to the District Court of New Jersey, and it is still on hold. As was the case in the last two times I have come to the floor to speak, our country is not only operating with an incomplete Supreme Court, but it is also operating with a judicial vacancy crisis across the Nation in multiple Federal courts.... I noted that we faced 90 judicial vacancies in our courts across the country, 35 of which have been deemed judicial emergencies.... There are 30 nominations currently pending on the Senate Executive Calendar, and all but two were voted out of committee by unanimous vote. That includes 20 district court nominees. Both Republicans and Democrats in this body gave a unanimous vote in the Judiciary Committee. The nominations pending on the Executive Calendar are from States all across the country, from east to west. These places include New Jersey, New York, California, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Utah, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Idaho.... I ... ask that we push this bipartisan package of well-qualified nominees that includes two people who are next on the list, Ed Stanton and Julien Neals, the two longest waiting judicial nominees from Tennessee and New Jersey, as well as nominees from New York, California, Rhode Island, and two nominees from Pennsylvania, again supported in a bipartisan fashion in the Judiciary Committee.... I know this body is better than a tit-for-tat process, where we measure how many nominees President Bush got versus President Obama. This was not the intention of the Constitution, not the intention of our Framers, and it is not something that has been the tradition of our country. I know the good the Senate can do for Americans across the country. Part of our obligation is to ensure a functioning judicial system that can deliver justice for America. This Senate is failing to uphold its duty now and has plunged our Nation into a level of judicial crisis that is unacceptable. We can and we must do better."

Sen. Reid: Republican Obstruction of Merrick Garland’s Nomination is Without Precedent
(Democrat - Nevada) 09/27/16
"Republicans have another chance to keep the promises they made to the American people. Republicans should right this historic wrong on Judge Garland. They should give him a hearing, a vote, but they should do it right now."

Sen. Leahy Statement On the Supreme Court Nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/27/16
"Yet unlike Chief Justice Roberts, who was confirmed in about two months, Chief Judge Garland has been pending before the Senate for more than six months. That is longer than any Supreme Court nominee in history. No hearing. No vote. No consideration at all by the Senate."

Sen. Blumenthal Floor Statement
(Democrat - Connecticut) 09/27/16
[Page S6117] "I am proud to submit today, along with 42 of my Democratic colleagues, including Senator Leahy of Vermont, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, along with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, a resolution that says to the Senate of the United States: Do not leave town for a recess until we have provided a hearing and a vote on the pending Supreme Court nomination. Do not leave town without doing your job. Do not leave town without fulfilling your constitutional duty to advise and consent."

Sen. Durbin Floor Statement [Merrick Garland and other judicial nominees and vacancies]
(Democrat - Illinois) 09/27/16
"When George W. Bush was in his last term in office and the Democrats were in control, we approved 68 judges in that last Congress--in his ``lameduck'' Congress. So far this Congress Senator McConnell has allowed only 22 judges to come through the Senate, and 30 of them are sitting on the calendar. By the tradition of the Senate, where the Senate fills the vacancies when they need to be filled, regardless of the President's party or the year of his term--Senator McConnell ignores that. We have 91 Federal judicial vacancies across the United States that need to be filled.... It is the most accurate reflection of the dysfunction of the U.S. Senate I can think of--that the Senate Republican leadership would ignore the Constitution and the traditions of the Senate, leave these poor judicial nominees languishing for up to a year on the calendar, and refuse to meet their constitutional obligation to give Merrick Garland--even though the American Bar Association deemed him as being unanimously ``well qualified''--his time to come before the Senate for an open hearing, answer questions under oath, and receive a vote on the floor of the Senate."

(Democrat - Colorado) 09/27/16
"Judge Garland is now the longest pending nominee in the Nation's history.... the majority's refusal to even consider Judge Garland's nomination is the most egregious example of Washington dysfunction I have seen.... Professors Robert Kar and Jason Mazzone combed through the history of Supreme Court nominations and Senate confirmations ... Since the founding of the country, there have been 103 instances similar to the moment we face today, where an elected President nominated a person to fill a vacancy before the election of the successor-... The professors found that in all 103 instances, the sitting President was able to both nominate and appoint a replacement Justice by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The professors further wrote: ``This is true even of all eight such cases where the nomination process began during an election year.''... The longer this vacancy remains, the more uncertainty and confusion the American people will suffer."

Sen. Leahy Floor Statement: Nomination of Merrick Garland [and other judicial nominees]
(Democrat - Vermont) 09/27/16
"Eleven years ago this week, ... the Senate confirmed John Roberts to the Supreme Court ... . He had his Judiciary Committee hearing in September and ... was confirmed about two weeks later, September 29. ... By the standards the Democrats gave to Republicans, Chief Judge Garland should have been confirmed by Memorial Day. We have had more than 6 months to examine his record. It is not as though the Senate has been consumed and overworked considering other nominees; the last time we confirmed any judicial nominee was on July 6. Republicans refuse to allow votes even on uncontroversial district court nominees who have been pending more than a year, even those supported by Republicans in their States, and our independent Federal judiciary is suffering as a result of this unprecedented obstruction, as a result of the Senate not doing its job. It is long time past for the Senate to do its job."