12.10.13

Senate Confirms Millett To The D.C. Circuit Court

Senate Confirms Millett To The D.C. Circuit Court 

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, December 10, 2013) –Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) applauded on Tuesday the confirmation of Patricia Millett to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Millett will be just the sixth woman ever to serve on the influential court in its 120-year history. 

“Patricia Millett has risen through the ranks of government and private practice to earn a place among the best appellate practitioners in the country,” said Leahy, who ushered her nomination from the Committee to the Senate floor. 

Millett has served in Democratic and Republican administrations in the Solicitor General’s office and has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court. In addition to her record of public service, Millett is a military spouse whose husband was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom while she served in the Solicitor General’s office. 

In October, Senate Republicans blocked Millett’s nomination to fill the 9th seat previously held by John Roberts, who the Senate confirmed to that seat by voice vote in 2003. Because of Leahy’s support of changes to the Senate rules to overcome Republican abuse of filibuster rules to block qualified nominees, Millett was finally able to be confirmed today.

“By refusing to allow a vote for any existing vacancy on the D.C. Circuit, Republicans took their determined obstruction to an unprecedented level,” Leahy said. “Now that the Senate has changed its precedents to overcome the escalating obstruction of some, I hope reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties.” 

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

Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On the Nomination of Patricia Millett to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the

District of Columbia Circuit

December 10, 2013

Today, the Senate will finally have the opportunity to vote on the confirmation of Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  Over the course of her 25-year legal career, Ms. Millett has risen through the ranks of government and private practice to earn a place among the best appellate practitioners in the country.  She has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court.  She worked in the Justice Department under both Republican and Democratic administrations.  She is unquestionably qualified and deserves to be confirmed without further delay so she can get to work for the American people. 

Patricia Millett’s career mirrors that of the last DC Circuit to occupy the very seat to which she is nominated—that of John Roberts, Jr.  I voted for his confirmation to both the D.C. Circuit and later to the Supreme Court.  I knew at the time of those votes that I would not agree with every decision he would make on the bench, but I voted for him because of his temperament and his excellent reputation as a lawyer.  John Roberts was confirmed unanimously to the D.C. Circuit on the day the Judiciary Committee completed consideration of his nomination and reported it to the Senate—at a time when the caseload of the D.C. Circuit by any measure was lower than it is today.  If only Senate Republicans had been willing to apply the same standard for Ms. Millett. Instead, they decided to filibuster her nomination even though they had promised to only filibuster nominations under “extraordinary circumstances.”  If those Senators had been true to their word, I do not believe we would have reached the tipping point on the use of the filibuster. 

By refusing to allow a vote for any existing vacancy on the D.C. Circuit, Republicans took their determined obstruction to an unprecedented level.   As the senior most Senator serving today, I approach changes to the tradition and history of the Senate with great reluctance. I have always believed in the Senate’s unique protection of the minority party.  I have held to my belief that the best traditions of the Senate would win out; that the 100 of us who stand in the shoes of more than 310 million Americans would do the right thing.  

Now that the Senate has changed its precedents to overcome the escalating obstruction of some, I hope reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties.  I hope this will include a vote to confirm Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit.

Ms. Millett is a nominee with unquestionable integrity and character.  She has engaged in significant community service and committed herself to pro bono work.  She helps the neediest among us, volunteering through her church to prepare meals for the homeless and serving regularly as an overnight monitor at a local shelter.  

Through her legal work, Ms. Millett has earned broad bipartisan support.  This includes the support of Peter Keisler, Carter Phillips, Kenneth Starr, Theodore Olson and Paul Clement and a bipartisan group of 110 appellate practitioners, as well as 37 Deputy Solicitors General and Assistants to the Solicitor General from both Republican and Democratic Administrations.  She is supported by the National President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Chuck Canterbury; and many others.  

Patricia Millet’s service to our Nation is not limited to her legal career or her humanitarianism.  She is part of our Nation’s storied military family, a family that we have called on repeatedly in the past decade.  Her husband is a retired Navy reservist, and as a military spouse, Ms. Millett is part of our Nation’s military fabric.  She understands personally what we ask of our service members and their families.  At the height of Patricia Millett’s legal career, her husband received orders to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For nearly a year, she balanced Supreme Court arguments and the demands of being a single parent all while reassuring her children that their father would return home safe.  

But not only is Ms. Millett committed to her own military family, she has helped to secure employment protections for members of our National Guard and Reserve through her pro bono legal work.  In a case decided by the Supreme Court in 2011, Ms. Millett represented an Army Reservist who was fired, in part, because some of his co-workers did not like his military absences.  The successful arguments that Ms. Millett helped craft have made it easier for all members of our Reserve and National Guard to protect their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.

Patricia Millett embodies what we ask our military families to do on behalf of their country.  

Military spouses juggle all the challenges that every American family faces - but often with the added pressure of deployments and extended separations. I want to thank all the military spouses who are in the Senate gallery today and those watching on C-SPAN who have worked tirelessly to support the nomination of “one of their own.”  We should recognize, honor and support our military families not just through words, but through meaningful action.  A vote to confirm Patricia Millett is that meaningful action. 

Today the Senate finally has the opportunity to vote for the confirmation of Patricia Millett.  I urge my fellow senators to join me in supporting this outstanding nominee.        

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