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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

Senator Statements


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Sen. Flake on Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Arizona) 06/30/16
Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is open to holding a vote for Garland if it starts to get close to November and Donald Trump still looks like he won't win the presidency. "Obviously if we lose the election and lose the White House, then we ought to move quickly to confirm [Garland]," the Republican senator told Business Insider. "And I think if it becomes apparent that we aren't going to win the White House — if we know in October that it's not good — then we've got to move forward at that point." "But I don't think my view is shared by too many of my colleagues," he continued. "Or enough of my colleagues to do it."

Sen. Inhofe Statement on Courts Blocking Obama’s Executive Amnesty
(Republican - Oklahoma) 06/23/16
“The divided ruling from SCOTUS underscores the need for the balance of the court to be decided by the next president and by a Republican. President Obama is eager to stack the highest court to uphold not only this illegal executive action, but the many more that have been or are being challenged in the courts. This election is not just about the next four years, but about the next generation of Americans and our way of life.”

Sen. Flake on Chief Judge Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Arizona) 05/08/16
"I think Republicans are more than justified in waiting. That is following both principle and precedent. But the principle is to have the most conservative, qualified jurists that we can have on the Supreme Court, not that the people ought to decide before the next election. I've never held that position. If we come to a point, I've said all along, where we're going to lose the election, or we lose the election in November, then we ought to approve him quickly. Because I'm certain that he'll be more conservative than a Hillary Clinton nomination comes January."

Sen. Ron Johnson applies different standards to SCOTUS, appeals court nominees
(Republican - Wisconsin) 04/18/16
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) has repeatedly said he doesn't think any U.S. Supreme Court nominee put forth by the Obama administration should be confirmed in such a contentious election year, but he is not applying that same standard to a lower court nominee from Wisconsin. A Wisconsin-designated seat on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has been vacant since 2010 ... We both filled out and filed our blue slips and you need two blue slips to move a nomination forward," said Sen. Baldwin, referring to a procedural move regarding judicial appointments. Both Senators sent those blue slips to the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicating their approval of President Obama's January nomination of Madison Attorney Don Schott. While Sen. Johnson supports Schott's election-year appointment, he takes a much different position on Obama's Supreme Court nominee - D-C Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland. "Two totally different courts, first of all," Sen. Johnson told 27 News last Friday. "You have district court, you have appellate court, then you have the Supreme Court of the land. That's where the decision is final." ... While Sen. Baldwin has asked Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to hold a hearing and vote on Don Schott's confirmation to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Sen. Johnson told 27 News he will let Sen. Grassley make his own decision on that.

(Republican - Missouri) 04/06/16
" What the Senate has to decide when there is a nomination to the Supreme Court is this: Is this the right time for this vacancy to be filled, and then is this the right person? In election years, the Senate for most of the history of the country has decided it wasn't the right time.... The EPA is saying we have the authority to regulate navigable waters, and so we are going to get involved in your peat moss farm, because even though it is 120 miles from any navigable waters, the water from your peat moss farm could run into other water that could run into other water that 120 miles away would run into navigable waters. Look right here in the Clean Air Act. [sic] ... Even if somehow a nominee began the process right now, I think the average has been about 54 days. That is the 9 months it took to get to Judge Kennedy and less than that it took to get to somebody else.[sic]"

(Republican - Texas) 04/05/16
"I simply believe it is important--particularly in something that could extend for the next 25 or 30 years and really affect the balance of power on the Supreme Court--that this be left to the voters.... Frankly, my constituents back home think the rules ought to be the same no matter who happens to be in the majority and who happens to be in the White House.... We remain committed to the idea that this vacancy should be filled by the next President.... I hope we can continue to work together on these other consensus matters even though we disagree about this one very important matter. I am confident that we can and we will."

Senator Susan Collins Meets with Chief Judge Merrick Garland
(Republican - Maine) 04/05/16
Following their meeting, Senator Collins released this statement: “Considering a Supreme Court nominee is one of the Senate’s most important constitutional responsibilities. “During our lengthy discussion this morning, Chief Judge Garland and I discussed a wide variety of issues, ranging from executive overreach and the separation of powers, to Second Amendment cases, to his judicial philosophy. Judge Garland gave thorough, impressive responses to all of my questions, and I found him to be well informed, thoughtful, and extraordinarily bright. “Throughout my time in the Senate, I have always found that whether its legislation, nominations, or treaties, we are best served by following the regular order. That is why I have called for the Senate to proceed to the next step by holding public hearings. “My meeting today with Judge Garland left me more convinced than ever that the process should proceed. Public hearings before the Judiciary Committee would allow that the issues that we explored in my office today to be further reviewed and analyzed by the Senate.”

(Republican - Iowa) 04/05/16
"Chief Justice Roberts maintained that the public wrongly thinks Justices view themselves as Republicans or as Democrats.... What is troubling is that a large segment of the population views the Justices as political.... I believe the public's perception is at least sometimes very warranted.... The Chief Justice ruled out that this perception has anything to do with what the Justices themselves have done. Instead, he attributes it to the Senate confirmation process.... He would be well-served to address the reality--not the perception--that too often there is little difference between the actions of the Court and the actions of the political branches. So, Physician, heal thyself."

Sen. Kirk on Judge Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Illinois) 03/29/16
Kirk said he was “leading by example” by meeting with the judge. “I’m showing what a rational, responsible guy would do who really wants the constitutional process to go forward,” he said. Kirk said there was a need for “a rational, adult, open minded consideration of the constitutional process.” Pressed on whether his colleagues who are refusing to consider Garland’s nomination are being open-minded and rational, he said: “I think when you just say, ‘I’m not going to meet with him,’ that’s too closed-minded.” Kirk added that Garland’s nomination “shouldn’t just be for nothing.” “We should have a long discussion about key issues before the court,” Kirk said, noting that he was particularly interested in discussing with Garland to what extent federal racketeering laws might be used to dismantle the illegal drug industry.

Sen. Murkowski on Judge Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Alaska) 03/25/16
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski will meet with President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court ... Murkowski spokeswoman Karina Petersen said in an email ... “She plans to raise the recent Sturgeon decision and gauge Judge Garland’s understanding of the uniqueness of Alaska’s key statutes,” Petersen wrote, referencing the Statehood Act, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Murkowski, who is seeking election to a third six-year term this year, will also query Garland about the Second Amendment and about the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, which found that an individual has the right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense. “She is currently doing her due diligence on Judge Garland’s record and opinions over this state work period and will have more following that review that we would be happy to share following the meeting,” Petersen wrote ... Murkowski was asked in a February interview with the News-Miner how she would handle the impending nomination if she were majority leader. She said the Judiciary Committee should hold a hearing “for whomever the president should name ... ” She expanded on her position in a statement the following day, saying that Obama should leave the nomination to the next president but that the “extraordinary circumstances” of the timing of the current vacancy give the Senate “every right to deny the nominee an up or down vote.” Murkowski still believes a confirmation hearing is acceptable. “The senator never held that position that the nomination should not be considered” by the Judiciary Committee, her spokeswoman said in the Friday email to the News-Miner.

Sen. Moran favors hearing on Judge Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Kansas) 03/24/16
The Garden City Telegram reported that Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) told a small group gathered in a Cimarron, Kan., courthouse on Monday that GOP senators “should interview Garland and have a hearing on his nomination,” in the paper’s words. “I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria, but I have my job to do,” Moran said, according to the report. “I think the process ought to go forward.” ... the Dodge City Daily Globe, reported that Moran was even more explicit in comments to a Rotary Club there: “I think we have the responsibility to have a hearing, to have the conversation and to make a determination on the merit,” he said. But Moran added that he was unlikely to ultimately support confirming Garland: “I can’t imagine this president is going to nominate someone I find acceptable. I have a restricted view of what judges are supposed to do."

Sen. Kirk urges Senators to "just man up" and vote on Judge Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Illinois) 03/18/16
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), ... had a message for his GOP colleagues on Friday: give Garland a vote. “We should go through the process the Constitution has already laid out. The president has already laid out a nominee who is from Chicagoland and for me, I’m open to see him, to talk to him, and ask him his views on the Constitution,” Kirk explained in a radio interview on WLS-AM’s Big John Howell Show. Noting that his own constitutional views are “a lot like Justice Scalia, who he’d be replacing,” Kirk urged colleagues to “just man up and cast a vote. The tough thing about these senatorial jobs is you get ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes. Your whole job is to either say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and explain why.”

Sen. Collins urges Senate to hold public hearings, follow regular order on Judge Garland Supreme Court nomination
(Republican - Maine) 03/16/16
QUESTION: Does Judge Merrick Garland deserve a hearing and a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee? COLLINS: He does. I believe that we should follow the regular order in considering this nominee. The Constitution's very clear that the president has every right to make this nomination, and then the Senate can either consent or withhold its consent. The only way that we can do that is by thoroughly vetting the nominee, and that means having personal meetings, which I have scheduled to come up in about three weeks, or - and to hold a public hearing.... I believe that the best outcome from the Senate, whether we're dealing with nominees or treaties or legislation, come about when we follow the regular order.... I suspect that there will be more senators who are willing to sit down with the nominee. That is, after all, those one-on-one conversations I have found to be the best way to evaluate the nominee's intellect, temperament, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the Constitution, qualifications and experience.... He certainly is a solid nominee, and he appears to have been an accomplished jurist. He is the chief judge of the DC circuit, and that is impressive. But he's been on the court for 19 years. That's a long time since I first voted for him. In fact, he was the first federal judge for whom I voted as a new senator in 1997."

Sen. Roberts Statement on President’s Supreme Court Nomination
(Republican - Kansas) 03/16/16
“By nominating a replacement for Justice Scalia, President Obama is attempting to deny the American people a voice on the next Supreme Court justice. The next justice will have an effect on the courts for decades to come and should not be rushed through by a lame-duck president during an election year. This is not about the nominee, it is about giving the American people and the next president a role in selecting the next Supreme Court justice.”

U.S. Senator Collins’ Statement on Nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to Supreme Court
(Republican - Maine) 03/16/16
“As I begin the process of evaluating this nomination, I will be examining Chief Judge Garland’s judicial record, as well as other relevant materials. When deciding whether to support a nominee, I consider the individual’s intellect, integrity, qualifications, experience, temperament, and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. This is the approach I have taken with every judicial nominee who has come before me throughout my service in the Senate, and that is the process that I will follow with this nomination as well. “Judge Garland is a capable and accomplished jurist. The White House has requested that I meet with him, and I look forward to doing so, as has been my practice with all Supreme Court nominees.”

Sen. Kirk Statement on President Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee
(Republican - Illinois) 03/16/16
“When I climbed the 42 steps of the U.S. Capitol and returned to the Senate following my stroke, I reaffirmed my commitment to represent the people of Illinois in an independent and thoughtful manner, free from the partisanship and political rancor that too often consumes Washington. The Senate’s constitutionally defined role to provide advice and consent is as important as the president’s role in proposing a nominee, and I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications."

(Republican - Utah) 03/14/16
"[T]he Senate's job is to determine the best way to exercise its advice and consent power in each unique situation. Over the years, the Senate has considered nominations in different ways at different times, depending on the circumstances."

[Sen. Ron] Johnson Won't Block Obama Appeals Court Nominee
(Republican - Wisconsin) 03/14/16
"Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he will allow an appointment to Wisconsin's Federal Court of Appeals to move forward, even as he digs in his heels to block any appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Barack Obama nominated Madison attorney Donald K. Schott to Chicago's 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in January to fill the longest-standing federal appeals court vacancy in the country. ... Senate rules give Johnson the power to effectively veto Schott's nomination, but late last week, Johnson gave his OK. He was asked whether Republican senators would be moving forward with other judicial nominations while they continue to block any U.S. Supreme Court nominee. "All I can do is my part," Johnson said. "I think I've demonstrated a very bipartisan approach.""

Sen. McConnell Floor Statement: WORKING TOGETHER IN THE SENATE
(Republican - Kentucky) 03/14/16
"It is clear that Democrats and Republicans do not agree on whether the American people should have a voice in the current Supreme Court vacancy. .... This is one issue where we simply don't agree, so let's keep our focus on the areas where we can find agreement instead."

Sen. Johnson: Cooperation only goes so far with Sen. Tammy Baldwin
(Republican - Wisconsin) 03/11/16
"The White House waited eight months, until Jan. 12, 2016, to nominate Don Schott. By all accounts, Schott is a well-respected and well-qualified attorney — but with no experience as a judge. He has made political contributions to Feingold and Baldwin and to Obama. I have interviewed Schott and reviewed his FBI file. He comes highly recommended as a person of integrity, and I have "signed the blue slip" to recommend that the Judiciary Committee consider him. Baldwin's partisan decision to blow up our bipartisan process, and the White House's foot-dragging have put Schott's nomination in jeopardy. Throw in the politics that have unnecessarily erupted over the Supreme Court vacancy, and the outcome is impossible to predict. I also have recommended to the White House that Obama should nominate the other qualified candidate, Richard Sankovitz, to fill the vacancy that recently opened on the Eastern District Court. I sincerely hope the president accepts my recommendation. I do not control the process for either the appeals court or Supreme Court vacancies. Those decisions are under the jurisdiction of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ... The advice of the Senate Republican majority is to let the American people decide the composition of the Supreme Court. Instead of a lame duck president and Senate nominating and confirming, a new president and Senate — elected by the people only a few months from now — should make that important decision."

Prepared Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, Executive Business Meeting
(Republican - Iowa) 03/10/16
"The record is pretty clear about how the Senate approaches vacancies that arise in a presidential election-year, and why we’re going to approach it the same way."

(Republican - North Carolina) 03/10/16
" I, for one, think the nomination should be instructed by the vote that is cast in November for the President, and, actually, for that matter, the Senate congressional elections."

Sen. Barrasso Floor statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Republican - Wyoming) 03/10/16
"When an election is just months away, the people should be allowed to consider possible Supreme Court nominees as one factor in deciding whom they will support for President."

Sen. Lankford Floor statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Republican - Oklahoma) 03/09/16
"I would submit, with only months left until the Presidential election, that we should let the people decide."

(Republican - Arkansas) 03/09/16
"[W]ith regard to a Supreme Court nomination, the only task for this Senate is to wait passionately and listen to the American people."