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

As we return from recess for the remaining days of the 113th Congress, I begin by congratulating my friend, Senator Chuck Grassley, who will become Chairman of the Judiciary Committee beginning in the 114th Congress.  We have a very good working relationship, and I hope that this will continue when he assumes the chairmanship in January.

We still have several weeks left in this Congress with much work left to be done.  As history shows, when both sides work together, the lame duck session can be a productive one for filling vacancies on our courts.  In 2002, after the midterm elections, Senate Democrats worked to confirm all 20 of President Bush’s judicial nominees pending on the Executive Calendar – all but one by voice vote.  In the 2006 lame duck session, after Senate Democrats won the majority in the elections, Democrats agreed to confirm all 14 of President Bush’s judicial nominations pending on the Executive Calendar, but this package was blocked by a Republican Senator.  In the most recent lame duck sessions, in 2010 and 2012, a total of 32 judicial nominees were confirmed.  With the 2014 midterm elections behind us I hope that we will, as the incoming Majority Leader suggests, “clear the decks” on pending business so that we can start fresh next year.

Currently, there are 16 district court nominations that have been pending before the full Senate for months, and another eight district court nominations and one Court of International Trade nomination that will be reported out of the Judiciary Committee before the end of the month.  There are also six nominees pending before the Senate to fill vacancies on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, two nominees to fill vacancies on Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and three nominees to fill vacancies on the U.S. Tax Court.

Today, we will vote to overcome the needless filibuster of just two of the district court nominations that have been pending before the full Senate since June, one of which will fill a judicial emergency vacancy in Georgia. 

Randolph Moss is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Mr. Moss “Well Qualified” to serve on that court; its highest rating.  Since 2001, he has been a partner at the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP.  He has also served in various capacities for the U.S. Department of Justice.  Upon graduating from Yale Law School, Mr. Moss clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Leigh May is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  She is currently a partner at the law firm of Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, LLP, in Atlanta, Georgia, where she has practiced since 2000.  After graduating, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia Law School, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Dudley H. Bowen, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. 

We still have much work to do to fill the 64 current and 27 known upcoming judicial vacancies on our Federal district and circuit courts.  Before the end of this Congress we could cut the number of current vacancies on our district and circuit courts by one-third.  To get this done, however, we must stop delaying for delay’s sake on votes for consensus nominees.  Unless there is cooperation from Republican Senators, we will not have time clear the Executive Calendar before adjournment.  At the very least, I would hope that the Republican Senators who recommended many of the pending judicial nominees to the President will work within their caucus to get consent to confirm nominees to their home states.

I hope that all Senators will vote to put an end to the filibuster of these nominations. 



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