03.12.14

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Judicial Nominations

The last two days, we have spent unnecessary floor time overcoming procedural obstacles so that we can vote to confirm the five judicial nominations before us today.  Every single one of the nominees that we will vote on today has bipartisan support and will be confirmed by significant margins.  Judge Carolyn McHugh was nominated last May, while all four nominees to the Eastern District of Michigan were nominated last July.  All of these nominees could and should have been confirmed before we adjourned last year.  Instead, because Republicans refused to consent to hold these nominations in the Senate, and every single one had to be returned to the President at the end of last year.  They then had to be re-nominated and re-processed through Committee this year and were all reported out with bipartisan support on January 16, 2014.

We have not had a vote on a judicial nomination this year that was not subjected to a Republican filibuster. I appreciate very much the two Republican senators, Senator Collins and Senator Murkowski, who have voted each time to end the filibuster of judicial nominees. For other Republican senators, however, I have started to notice a pattern of voting to end filibusters only if a nominee is from a state with at least one Republican home state Senator.  Most recently this happened earlier this week on the cloture vote for Judge McHugh with nine Republicans voting to end the filibuster. It should not require a judicial nominee to be from a state with one or more Republican home state senators for some senators to do the right thing.  Filling vacancies so that our Federal judiciary can be fully functioning should not be a partisan issue. 

Today, we will finally vote to confirm the following nominees:

Judge Carolyn McHugh has been nominated to fill a vacancy in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  She has served since 2005 as a judge on the Utah Court of Appeals and as the Presiding Judge of that court since 2012.  She previously worked in private practice at Parr Brown Gee & Loveless as an Associate (1983-1987) and subsequently as a Shareholder (1987-2005).  She has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah Law School and at the University of Utah College of Social and Behavioral Science.  Judge McHugh earned her J.D., Order of the Coif, from the University of Utah Law School in 1982.  After law school, she clerked for Judge Bruce S. Jenkins of the United States District Court for the District of Utah.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Judge McHugh “Well Qualified” to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, its highest rating.  She has the support of her home state senators, Senator Hatch and Senator Lee. 

Matthew Leitman is nominated to fill a judicial emergency vacancy in the Eastern District of Michigan.  He has worked in private practice for almost 20 years, including as Senior Principal (2005-present) and Senior Counsel (2004) at Miller, Canfield, Paddock, and Stone, P.L.C, and as Partner (2000-2004) and Associate (1994-1999) at Miro, Weiner, & Kramer, P.C.  He earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1993.  Following his graduation from law school, he served as a law clerk to Justice Charles L. Levin of the Michigan Supreme Court.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Mr. Leitman “Well Qualified” to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, its highest rating. 

Judith Levy is nominated to fill a judicial emergency vacancy in the Eastern District of Michigan.  She has served since 2000 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan, where she has served as the Chief of the Civil Rights Unit since 2010.  She has also worked as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School (2005-present) and as a Trial Attorney for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1999-2000).  She earned her J.D., cum laude, from Michigan Law School in 1996.  Following her graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge Bernard Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern of District of Michigan (1996-1999). 

Judge Laurie Michelson is nominated to fill a vacancy in the Eastern District of Michigan.  She has served since 2011 as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Michigan.  Prior to her judicial service, she worked in private practice for 18 years at Butzel Long as an Associate (1993-2000) and subsequently as a Shareholder (2000-2011).  She has also served for three years as an Adjunct Professor at Oakland University (2003-2006).  She earned her J.D. from Northwestern University Law School in 1992.  Following her graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge Cornelia G. Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Mr. Leitman “Well Qualified” to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, its highest rating.

Judge Linda Parker is nominated to fill a vacancy in the Eastern District of Michigan.  She has served since 2009 as a Circuit Court Judge on the Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan.  Prior to her judicial service, she worked as Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (2003-2008), as Director of Development at the Detroit Institute of Arts (2000-2003), as Executive Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan (1994-2000), in private practice at Dickinson Wright as Associate Attorney (1989-1992) and Partner from (1992-1994), and as a Staff Attorney to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (1985-1989).  She earned her J.D. from George Washington University Law School in 1983.  Following graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk to Judge William S. Thompson of the District of Columbia Superior Court (1983-1985).  

All four of the district court nominees have the support of their home state senators – Senator Levin and Senator Stabenow.  I hope my fellow senators will join me today to confirm these nominees so that they can begin working on behalf of the American people.  

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