Levin, Stabenow Statement
on Michigan Sixth Circuit Nominations
We hope that Senator Hatch will reconsider his announcement that he intends to hold hearings on the Michigan 6th Circuit nominees until the current impasse can be resolved in a bipartisan manner.
For more than four years and one and a half years respectively, the Republican Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Hatch, refused to grant hearings to two qualified Michigan nominees to the 6th Circuit. Senator Abraham, who had been unable to obtain the nomination to the 6th Circuit of his favored choice, refused to return to the Judiciary Committee his blue slips on those two nominees. Even after Senator Abraham returned his blue slips in April 2000, the Judiciary Committee still failed to hold hearings on the nominations.
Holding open court seats for long periods of time for partisan reasons, until a president of the opposite political party is elected to fill those vacancies, poses a threat to the independence of our federal courts. We have said repeatedly that this tactic should not be allowed to succeed and that the only fair solution to the current impasse is a bipartisan one.
We have sent a letter to Congressman Fred Upton, the senior Republican member of Michigan's Congressional delegation asking him to join us in establishing a bipartisan judicial nominating commission to recommend to the President potential nominees for Michigan vacancies on the federal courts. The bipartisan commission approach works in Wisconsin, and we see no reason why it can't also work in Michigan. We hope that Senator Hatch will consider the negative impact of moving forward on a partisan basis and join our effort to resolve the situation in a bipartisan manner.