06.23.14

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

The judges that fill the two Federal district courts seats in my home state have an extraordinary impact on the lives of Vermonters. So when I learned that my friend Judge William Sessions was to take senior status after 18 years of distinguished service on the Vermont district court, I took seriously my responsibility to act swiftly to identify a candidate to recommend to President Obama for nomination.  I worked with Senator Sanders, Representative Welch, and the Vermont Bar Association to convene a merit commission to find highly qualified candidates. 

I again want to thank the nine members of the nonpartisan Vermont Judicial Selection Commission, under the leadership of Peter Van Oot, for the time, effort and insight they invested in the screening process.  We are fortunate in Vermont to have so many highly qualified lawyers in the field of applicants willing to serve in such a demanding post. 

After being vetted and recommended to me by the commission, I recommended Justice Geoffrey Crawford to President Obama. I was not surprised that after the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary finished its vetting that they gave him their highest rating of unanimously well qualified.

Justice Crawford has significant criminal and civil experience.  He was a Vermont trial court judge for 11 years and recently became an Associate Justice on the Vermont Supreme Court.  He formerly was a partner in a Burlington law firm.  Justice Crawford earned his B.A., cum laude, from Yale University and his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School.  Following law school, he served as a law clerk to Judge Albert Coffrin of the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.

I did not know Justice Crawford personally before this process but when I did meet him I was struck by his brilliance, compassion, and humility.  Justice Crawford earned a stellar reputation in Vermont’s legal community, and also from those who had appeared before him, as a careful jurist who understands the effects that legal rulings have on people’s lives. I have no doubt that once confirmed he will bring that same understanding and impartiality to the Federal bench.    

The Judiciary Committee favorably reported Justice Crawford’s nomination unanimously by voice vote to the full Senate.  Justice Crawford, like the three other nominees we will vote on today, has been nominated to fill an emergency vacancy.  He is a qualified, uncontroversial nominee, with the full support of his home state Senators.  He and the three other nominees deserve to be confirmed without delay.

I thank the Majority Leader for bringing these nominations up for a vote, and urge Senators to vote to defeat these filibusters and get these nominees working for the American people in courthouses around the nation.  Justice Geoffrey Crawford will serve Vermont well as a Federal district judge, and I look forward to his confirmation.

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