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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I come to the floor to speak about the nomination of Jane Kelly. I compliment the chairman for speaking on immigration. I am not going to speak on immigration today, probably, but I hope to be able to speak several times before the bill actually gets to the floor of the Senate, to inform my colleagues about my point of view on the whole issue of immigration. But I can say generally that we all know the immigration system is broken and legislation has to pass. I hope we can get something that has broad bipartisan agreement. Already the product before us is a product of bipartisanship because four Democrats and four Republicans have submitted a proposal for our committee to consider.

I rise today, as I have said, in support of the nomination of Jane Kelly to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit. The nominee before us today, Ms. Kelly, presently serves as an assistant public defender for the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Northern District of Iowa. She does that work in the Cedar Rapids office.

She is well regarded in my home State of Iowa, so I am pleased to support Senator Harkin's recommendation that he made to the President, and subsequently the President's nomination of Ms. Kelly.

She received her BA summa cum laude from Duke University in 1987. After spending a few months in New Zealand as a Fulbright scholar, she went on to Harvard Law School, graduated there cum laude, earning her J.D. degree in 1991.

Upon graduation, she served as a law clerk, first for Judge Donald J. Porter, U.S. District Court, South Dakota, and then for Judge David R. Hansen of the Eighth Circuit. Judge Hansen sent us a letter in support of Ms. Kelly. Before I quote from it, I have confidence in Judge Hansen's words because he was a person I suggested to Republican Presidents, both for district judge and then his long tenure on the Eighth Circuit, and he has been a friend of mine as well.

This is what now-retired Judge Hansen said in support of Ms. Kelly: ``She is a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character.''

Then he went on to say she has an ``exceptionally keen intellect.''

Then Judge Hansen concludes by saying: ``She will be a welcome addition to the Court if confirmed.''

I have no doubt that she will be confirmed.

Beginning in 1994, she has served as an assistant Federal public defender in the Northern District of Iowa. She handled criminal matters for indigent defendants, has been responsible for trying a wide range of crimes. She became the supervising attorney in that Cedar Rapids office starting in 1999.

Ms. Kelly is active in the bar and in district court matters. She presently serves on the Criminal Justice Act Panel Selection Committee, the blue-ribbon panel for criminal cases. She also serves on the Facilities Security Committee of the district court.

In 2004, her peers honored her with the John Adams Award from the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Drake University Law School. She was unanimously chosen for this award, which recognizes individuals who show a commitment to the constitutional rights of criminal defendants.

The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave her a unanimous ``qualified'' rating.

I congratulate Ms. Kelly on her accomplishments and wish her well in her duties. I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me.

This brings us to a point where, as of today, prior to this supposed approval of Ms. Kelly, we have a record in the Senate of approving 185 judges throughout the 4 1/2 years of this Presidency, and the Senate has only rejected 2. That would be a .989 batting average for the President of the United States with his nominees here in the Senate.

As I stated last week, a .989 batting average is a record any President would be thrilled with. Yet this President, without justification, complains about obstruction and delay.

Today's confirmation is the 14th so far this year including 5 Circuit Judges and 9 District Judges.

Let me put that in perspective for my colleagues. At this point in the second term of the Bush presidency, only one judicial nomination had been confirmed. A comparative record of 14-1 is nothing to cry about.

As I said, this is the fifth nominee to be confirmed as a Circuit Judge this year, and the 35th overall. Over 76 percent of his Circuit nominees have been confirmed. President Clinton ended up at 73 percent; President Bush at 71 percent. So President Obama is doing better than the previous two Presidents.

So again, this President and Senate Democrats should have no complaints on the judicial confirmation process. The fact of the matter is that President Obama is doing quite well.

I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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