10.14.13

Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Nominations of Andrea Wood and Madeline Haikala

Today marks the 14th day of the government shutdown, and by refusing to pass a clean Continuing Resolution to fund the operations of the Federal government, Republicans continue to threaten the critical functioning of all three branches of government.  With this ongoing shutdown of the entire Federal government, a handful of ideologues in the House of Representatives are holding the entire judicial system hostage and this threatens our entire democracy.  One critical problem is that we have more than 90 judicial vacancies, including 39 that have been designated as emergency vacancies due to high caseloads by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the Courts.  While we will vote to confirm two additional judges today, we are moving far too slowly and are not keeping pace with the urgent needs of our Federal judiciary.  We must do better.

Today we are voting on two district court nominees.  Both of these nominees have been nominated to fill vacancies that were named judicial emergencies by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the Courts.  Andrea Wood is nominated to a judicial emergency vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Since 2004, Ms. Wood has served in the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission, currently as a Senior Trial Counsel and previously as a Senior Attorney.  Before joining the SEC, she spent five years in private practice as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  Following law school, Ms. Wood served as a law clerk for Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Ms. Wood earned her B.A., with honors, from the University of Chicago, and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as Articles Editor of the Yale Law Journal.  She has the bipartisan support of her home state Senators, Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk.  Her nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee by voice vote with no opposition to her confirmation expressed more than two months ago.

Madeline Haikala is nominated to a judicial emergency vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, where she has served as a Magistrate Judge since 2012.  Prior to her appointment, she worked at the Birmingham law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin, & White for 22 years, first as an associate and subsequently as a partner.  In addition, Judge Haikala has taught for approximately seven years as an adjunct professor at the Cumberland School of Law.  The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Judge Haikala well qualified to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, its highest rating.  Judge Haikala also has the strong support of both of her Republican home state Senators, Senator Shelby and Senator Sessions. Like the other nomination we are voting on today, Judge Haikala’s nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee by voice vote with no opposition to her confirmation expressed more than two months ago.

While I am pleased that we are finally getting to vote on these nominees, there remain far too many judicial vacancies.  Because of the government shutdown, we have been unable to hold hearings, process, and approve nominees in the Judiciary Committee for the last two weeks.  It does our country a serious injustice when we fail to provide our Federal courts with the resources it needs.  Let us end this shutdown now so we can do what we were elected to do and carry out business on behalf of the American people.

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