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In Judiciary Committee Introduction, Harkin Urges Swift Approval of Jane Kelly Nomination


Location: Washington, DC

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today urged swift approval of nominee Jane Kelly to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in his introduction of Kelly during the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on judicial nominations. The White House formally nominated Jane Kelly as U.S. Circuit Court Judge for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 31, 2013. Ms. Kelly, who has served since 1994 as a federal defender in the Northern District of Iowa, was recommended by Harkin to the White House in late 2012 to replace Judge Michael Melloy. Her nomination will need to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, before being considered by the full U.S. Senate.

Below is the full text of Harkin's remarks, as prepared for delivery.

"Madame Chair, Ranking Member Grassley and other members of the Committee, it is a great honor for me to introduce Jane Kelly, who has been nominated to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. I was honored to recommend this outstanding attorney to the President. I thank him for nominating her. And I urge this Committee's swift approval.

"I thank Senator Leahy and the Committee for scheduling such a prompt hearing. I also thank my senior colleague from Iowa, Senator Grassley, and his staff for making this hearing possible. For many years, Senator Grassley and I have worked in a collaborative spirit on judicial nominations in our state, and I am grateful that that tradition has continued.

"Madam Chair, I believe Jane Kelly possesses all of the qualifications necessary to assume the responsibilities of a federal appellate judge. Before recommending Ms. Kelly to the President, I reviewed an unusually strong field of candidates for this position. She stood out as a person of truly outstanding intellect and character with a reputation as an extremely talented lawyer with a deep sense of compassion and fairness.

"It is no surprise that she enjoys wide, bipartisan support from the Iowa legal community. Judge Michael Melloy -- who was nominated by President George W. Bush, and whose seat on the Eighth Circuit Ms. Kelly is nominated to fill -- said that Ms. Kelly "is very intelligent and thoughtful" and "she is a good writer which is important on the appellate court." Federal district court judge Stephanie Rose recently noted that Ms. Kelly "has a great blend of personality, skills and common sense to make a great lawyer and judge." Iowa state court judge Casey Jones said that Jane Kelly "is one of the most brilliant people I've ever met." It is no surprise the American Bar Association gave her a unanimous qualified rating.

"Ms. Kelly is a credit to all of us who have chosen to be public servants. She earned her bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from Duke, and received her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After law school, she was a law clerk to Judge Donald Porter of the District Court of South Dakota and Judge David Hansen, nominated by President George H.W. Bush, of the Eighth Circuit. She could easily have commanded a big salary with a top law firm. Instead, for over 20 years she has opted for public service and long hours as a federal defender, working to uphold the rule of law and ensure the rights of all Americans. We are fortunate that she seeks to continue her public service to Iowa and our nation by serving as a federal judge.

"Madame Chair, let me conclude with two additional notes about Ms. Kelly's nomination. First, if confirmed, Ms. Kelly will be only the second female judge in the history of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, a court established in 1891. While 56 men have sat on that court, to date there has been only one woman -- Diana Murphy, from your home state of Minnesota.

"Second, President Obama has nominated 100 former prosecutors to the federal bench, including one I recommended, former U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose to the Southern District of Iowa. Among recent Presidents, that is the highest percentage of former prosecutors nominated. These are all outstanding attorneys and dedicated public servants. But, as Judge Melloy recently noted with respect to Ms. Kelly, "It will be good to have someone from the public defender realm on the bench." Ms. Kelly has served for more than 20 years in the federal defender's office, where she has argued hundreds of cases on behalf of indigent clients. She has fought tirelessly to ensure the rights of all are protected and has worked to giving meaning to the phrase above the Supreme Court -- Equal Justice for All. This is a critically important perspective that she will bring to the court.

"Members of the Committee, Jane Kelly is very highly qualified to serve as United States Court of Appeals Judge for the Eighth Circuit and I urge this Committee to act swiftly to approve her."

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