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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BAYH. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in favor of the nomination of Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. I joined together with Senator Lugar to recommend Judge Walton Pratt because I know firsthand that she is a highly capable lawyer who understands the limited role of the Federal judiciary.

Before I speak to Judge Walton Pratt's qualifications, I would like to comment briefly on the state of the judicial confirmation process generally. In my view, this process has too often been consumed by ideological conflict and partisan acrimony. This is not, I believe, how the Framers intended us to exercise our responsibility to advise and consent.

During the last Congress, I was proud to work with Senator Lugar to recommend Judge John Tinder as a bipartisan, consensus nominee for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Tinder was nominated by President Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 93-0. It was my hope that Judge Tinder's confirmation would serve as an example of the benefits of nominating qualified, non-ideological jurists to the Federal bench.

In selecting Tanya Walton Pratt, President Obama has demonstrated that he also appreciates the benefits of this approach. I was proud to once again join with Senator Lugar to recommend her to the President, and I hope that going forward other Senators will adopt what I call the ``Hoosier approach'' of working across party lines to select consensus nominees.

I would also like to personally thank Senator Lugar for his extraordinary leadership and for the consultative and cooperative approach he has taken to judicial nominations. During my time in Congress, it has been my great privilege to forge a close working relationship with Senator Lugar across many issues. This has been especially true on the issue of nominations--when a judicial nominee from Indiana comes before the Senate, our colleagues can be confident that the name is being put forward with bipartisan support, regardless of which political party is in the White House or controls a majority in the U.S. Senate.

I should also note that Judge Walton Pratt is a historic nominee. If confirmed, she will be our State's first African-American Federal judge. While this day is long overdue, I hope that her confirmation will inspire Hoosier children of all backgrounds to pursue their dreams and show them that, in America, anything is possible if you study hard and play by the rules.

On the merits, Tanya Walton Pratt is an accomplished jurist who is well-qualified for a lifetime appointment to the Federal judiciary. She has extensive trial experience, having served as, a judge on the Marion Superior Court since 1997. For much of this time, she served in the criminal division, handling major felonies and presiding over dozens of jury trials per year. More recently, she has played a critical role in the probate division, presiding over adoption cases and placing children in loving homes.

During this time, Judge Walton Pratt has been recognized as a leader among Indiana jurists. She has served as chair of the Marion County Bar Association and on the executive committee of the Marion Superior Court System. Among other accolades, she has been honored as ``Outstanding Judge of the Year'' by the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Judge Walton Pratt has shown that she is deserving of the public trust. She has demonstrated the highest ethical standards and a firm commitment to applying our country's laws fairly and faithfully. She understands that the appropriate role for a judge is to interpret our laws, not to write them.

Tanya Walton Pratt is also a recognized leader in our community. She has also been honored with numerous awards including the Career Achievement Award from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Key to the City of Muncie.

I can say with confidence that Tanya Walton Pratt is the embodiment of good judicial temperament, intellect, and evenhandedness. If confirmed, she will be a superb and historic addition to the Federal bench. I am pleased to give her my highest recommendation.

I urge my colleagues to join me--and Senator Lugar--in supporting this extremely well-qualified and deserving nominee.


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