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Public Statements

Small Business Lending Fund Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I rise to echo the comments of my colleagues and object to the tactics being used by the minority in the Congress to block and delay confirmation votes for President Obama's judicial nominees.

I support this body's--I really do--I support this body's longstanding tradition of respecting the rights of the minority. I think it is one of the most important characteristics of the Senate. I am not one of those who wants to change the filibuster rule. I think it is important that we have a filibuster rule and that political minorities in the Senate are respected and that their rights are respected.

However, I think this practice of indiscriminately blocking nominations serves no legitimate purpose. I don't see the time created by the delay being used to meet with the nominee, to check the nominee's credentials, or to review the nominee's scholarship, speeches, or written opinion. This is delay for delay's sake.

Of the 27 district court nominees confirmed during this Congress, only 1 has received a ``no'' vote so far, and even she was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 1. Not a single member of the minority objected to 26 out of the 27 of these nominees. Yet someone forced them to wait for weeks or months for an up-or-down vote.

The minority may say this is simply the way things are done in the Senate, but that demonstrably is not the case. As this chart shows, during the first Congress of the Bush administration, President Bush's district court nominees waited for an average of 25 days to be confirmed after being favorably reported out of the Judiciary Committee. This pace was set when Democrats were in the majority party for most of the 107th Congress and reflects a willingness to cooperate with President Bush in a bipartisan manner.

In contrast, President Obama's district court nominees have been pending for 74 days, on average, after being favorably reported out of committee. This wait only seems to be getting longer. Sharon Coleman of the Northern District of Illinois, the only judicial nominee to be confirmed so far this month, waited almost 3 months to be confirmed 86 to 0.

This is unacceptable. These nominees are good men and women who have agreed to put their lives on hold and submit to the scrutiny of the Senate in order to serve our Nation. This body owes more to these nominees for their sacrifices than to use them as instruments of delay and obstruction. As long as the minority continues to stall these nominees, then the American people will be deprived of the fair and efficient administration of justice. We now have nearly 100 judicial vacancies and more than 40 of them have been declared judicial emergencies. One of these emergencies is located in the district of Delaware.

After tomorrow, the district will be operating at half capacity with only two out of four district judges confirmed to the bench. With this concern in mind, I join with my senior Senator, Tom Carper, and urge my colleagues to agree to consider the nomination of Leonard P. Stark to the district court of the district of Delaware without delay.

Judge Stark was nominated on March 17 of this year. He received a nominations hearing on April 22, and the Judiciary Committee reported him out by a unanimous vote on May 14. Ranking Member Sessions has called him ``a fine nominee'' whom he would support. As of today, no Senator has raised any public objection to his nomination. So I am confident that Judge Stark will be confirmed by an overwhelming margin, perhaps unanimously, when he receives a final vote. However, he has remained on the Senate Executive Calendar for 2 1/2 months now without justification or explanation.

Judge Stark has all the qualities required to be a successful district judge. Since 2007, he has dutifully served the district of Delaware as a magistrate judge and previously spent 5 years serving in the district as an assistant U.S. attorney. In his career, he has established himself as a talented, dedicated, and humble public servant who possesses a strong work ethic and the highest integrity and intellect.

He also has stellar academic credentials. He is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Delaware, a Rhodes Scholar, and a graduate of Yale Law School, where he was editor of the Law Journal.

Following law school, he clerked for Judge Walter K. Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Through his experiences in private practice, as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and as a magistrate judge, Leonard Stark has developed the knowledge, skills, and temperament to be an outstanding district court judge.

Therefore, I support the unanimous consent request about to be made by my colleague from Colorado to move to the consideration of several well-qualified judges whose nominations have been delayed. I know Judge Stark will be on that list.

I yield for the Senator from Colorado.


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