02.15.12

After Four Month – Plus Two Day – Delay, Senate Confirms 11th Circuit Nominee

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012) – The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed a long-pending nomination to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Judge Adalberto Jordan, who was nominated in August to be elevated from the district court to the Court of Appeals, was confirmed by an overwhelming vote, 94-5.

Jordan’s nomination has been available for final Senate consideration since the Judiciary Committee reported it with unanimous support on October 13.  The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Monday to invoke cloture on the nomination, but Senate Republicans did not consent to waiving post-cloture debate on the nomination, delaying a final vote for an additional two days.  Jordan will fill a judicial emergency on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Seventeen judicial nominations are still pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar, including seven nominees to fill judicial emergencies. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy’s statement, delivered on the Senate floor prior to the confirmation vote on Jordan’s nomination, follows.

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Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On the Nomination Of Judge Adalberto Jordan To The Eleventh Circuit

February 15, 2012

Today the Senate will finally vote on the nomination of Judge Adalberto Jordan of Florida to fill a judicial emergency vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit.  Finally, after a four month Republican filibuster that was broken by an 89 to five vote on Monday, and after Republicans insisted on two additional days of delay, the Senate will have a vote. 

Judge Jordan is by any measure the kind of consensus nominee who should have been confirmed after being reported unanimously by the Judiciary Committee last October.  Despite the strong support of his home state Senators, Senator Nelson, a Democrat, and Senator Rubio, a Republican, Republicans filibustered and delayed this confirmation for months.  They prevented the Senate from voting on Judge Jordan’s nomination in October, in November, in December, and in January.  And it should not have taken another two days after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to bring the debate to a close to have this vote.  

This superbly-qualified nominee will be the first Cuban-American on the Eleventh Circuit.  His record of achievement is beyond reproach.  The only statements about this nominee -- by me, by Senator Nelson and even by the Republican Senators who spoke -- described him as qualified and worthy of confirmation.  The stalling, the delays, the obstruction, even the votes against ending the filibuster were all about something else, some collateral issue.  They should not have marred this process and complicated this nomination.  They should not have delayed this moment when Cuban Americans will see one of their own elevated to the second highest court in the land.  I appreciate the attention that Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary and the Hispanic National Bar Association have given this important nomination.  Their work will finally be rewarded, as well. 

The junior Senator from Kentucky held up this nominee for his own purposes -- purposes having nothing to do with the nominee.  He did it in order to gain leverage to force a vote on an unrelated and ill-advised amendment.  You cannot amend a nomination. So now that he has forced the Senate into two days of inactivity, the Senate will finally vote.   

As I said yesterday, the goals of Senator Paul’s amendment are already the law of the land.  The new conditions on military aid for Egypt, which I wrote with Senator Graham, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority and were signed into law just two months ago without Senator Paul’s support.  Those conditions require certification by the Secretary of State that the Egyptian military is supporting the transition of civilian government and protecting fundamental freedoms and due process.  Unlike Senator Paul’s proposed amendment, these conditions—again, already the law -- do not pose a risk of backfiring on us and on our ally Israel. 

Moreover, once this misguided obstruction is ended and the Senate has voted to confirm Judge Jordan to fill the judicial emergency vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit, the Senate will turn back to its work on the surface transportation bill.  As Senator Boxer said this morning, that bipartisan bill can save or create 2.8 million jobs. That, too, should be a priority, not a pin cushion to attach ill-advised foreign policy amendments.  

This is the kind of obstruction that is hard to explain to the American people.  A Florida lawyer and former prosecutor was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel saying: "It's a good reason why Congress' approval rating is 10 percent."  He continued: "Politics should have no place in the nomination and confirmation of excellent jurists like Judge Jordan. Shouldn't happen.  We need qualified judicial nominees on the bench, big time."  It is the kind of senseless obstruction that comes at a great cost to the millions of Americans living in Florida, Georgia and Alabama who are affected by the judicial emergency vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit.  I am glad that they will finally have a judge to fill that vacancy. 

I am certain that all Americans will be well served by Judge Adalberto Jordan.  He has proven through his long career on the bench and as a prosecutor to be a public servant of tremendous quality and integrity.  I congratulate Judge Jordan, his family, Senator Nelson, Senator Rubio and the people of Florida on his confirmation today.

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