Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy On the Nominations of Colin Bruce and Sara Ellis

Today, we will vote on two of the district court nominations pending before the Senate.  While I am glad we are considering these important nominations today I hope that this needless government shutdown soon comes to an end so the Senate can tend to the business of the country, including ensuring that our courts have the judges they need.

Colin Bruce is nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois.  Mr. Bruce is a lifelong Federal prosecutor who has served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois for nearly 25 years.  He has served as the First Assistant United States Attorney since 2010.  He has extensive experience in Federal court and has handled over 600 cases, including 60 jury trials, 3 bench trials, and 80 appeals involving a broad range of issues such as drugs, fraud, national security, and cybercrime.

Sara Ellis is nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Ms. Ellis works in private practice in Chicago and also serves as an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.  She has substantial experience litigating in the civil and criminal context, having previously worked as a staff attorney for the Federal Defender Program and as an attorney for the City of Chicago Department of Law.  Over her 18-year legal career, she has tried 11 cases to verdict.

Both of the nominees have the bipartisan support of their home state Senators, Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk.  They were reported by the Judiciary Committee by voice vote more than two months ago.  While I am pleased that we are finally getting to vote on these nominees, voting on just 2 of the 13 judicial nominees currently pending on the floor is not enough to make real progress in reducing the vacancies on our Federal courts.  Our Federal judicial vacancies currently number more than 90, including 39 that have been designated as emergency vacancies due to high caseloads by the non-partisan Administrative Office of the Courts.  There is no good reason for us to not get back to what used to be the regular order in the Senate of taking up and confirming consensus nominees within days of being reported out of Committee.  We need to get these talented men and women off the Senate calendar and into the courtroom so they can get to work on behalf of the American people.

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