Republican Objections Now Stall Even Committee Progress

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 24, 2010) – A Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled to consider pending nominations, including a critical circuit court nomination, has been suspended because Senate Republicans have not yet consented to allowing the hearing to proceed

Employing a little used rule requiring the Senate’s unanimous consent to permit committees to hold hearings and meetings, Republicans have not yet consented to permit several Committees to meet Wednesday afternoon, including an important Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Professor Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Kimberly Mueller to be a district court judge for the Eastern District of California. 


Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On Senate Republicans’ Objections To Committee Hearings
March 24, 2010

Senate Republicans’ tactics of obstruction and delay know no limit.  They have objected to reasonable timetables to consider President Obama’s qualified judicial nominees, and now they are objecting to allowing the Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings in connection with these nominations.  Senate Republicans continue their ill-advised protest of meaningful health reform legislation by exploiting parliamentary tactics and Senate Rules, to the detriment of the American people and, in today’s instance, at the expense of American justice.  I urge them to reconsider and allow this hearing to proceed as scheduled.

I have accommodated requests from Judiciary Committee Republicans to delay the Committee’s hearing to consider Professor Liu’s nomination.  I had intended to hold this hearing two weeks ago, but instead scheduled a hearing for Judge Robert Chatigny, a nominee to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  When Republicans who had agreed to proceed on the Chatigny nomination then reversed themselves and asked that I postpone the hearing on that nomination, I did so as a further accommodation to them.  Those accommodations have met with the same Republican stonewalling we have seen in our efforts to consider judicial nominees since President Obama was elected, including the stalling of 22 judicial nominees favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee and awaiting final Senate approval.  Sixteen of those judicial nominees were voted out of Committee without opposition and yet the delay and obstruction continues. 

From the moment his nomination was announced, Senate Republicans have targeted Professor Liu with criticism and opposition.  Professor Liu is a widely-respected constitutional law professor with sterling credentials.  His brilliance is admired by legal thinkers and academic scholars from across the political spectrum.  As conceded by a Fox News commentator, his qualifications for the appellate bench are “unassailable.”  Yet Senate Republicans insist on slow-walking even the Committee’s process in considering this highly qualified nominee, refusing to allow him to answer their questions and respond to their attacks.

For months, Senate Republicans have resisted efforts to enact important reforms to our health insurance system.  But when the dust settles and the emotions are calmed, history will show that President Obama and this Congress responded to a pressing national issue, and proved once again that we can act with the purpose of advancing an important national interest.  Sadly, actions like today’s objections from Senate Republicans to the consideration of a highly qualified, historic nominee will be viewed as little more than petty, partisan politics. 

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