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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, soon we will be voting on a district court nominee. I rise in opposition to the nomination of Jennifer Dorsey. That is for the U.S. district judgeship for the District of Nevada. Before I outline the basis for my opposition, I wish to inform my fellow Senators and the American public regarding facts on judicial nominations.

We continue to hear from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle about how we are obstructing nominees or treating this President differently. Those complaints are without foundation. I will quantify my answer to prove my point. There is no crisis in the manner in which we are confirming nominees. This is all part of a larger strategy to justify breaking the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate.

The fact is that after today the Senate will have confirmed 199 lower court nominees. We have defeated two. That is 199 to 2. Who can complain about that record? The success rate happens to be 99 percent for the nominees sent by President Obama, considered on the floor of the Senate.

We have been doing it at a very fast pace as well. During the last Congress we confirmed more judges than any Congress since the 103rd Congress. That Congress sat from 1993 through 1994. This year we have already confirmed more judges than were confirmed in the entire first year of President Bush's second term.

So far this year we have confirmed 27 judges. If confirmed today, Ms. Dorsey will be the 28th confirmation this year. Let's compare this with a similar stage, which would be President Bush's second term, when only 10 judicial nominees had been confirmed. So we are now at a 28-to-10 comparison, with President Obama clearly ahead of where President Bush was. But somehow we are hearing complaints.

As I said, we have already confirmed more nominees this year, 28, than we did during the entirety of the year 2005, the first year of President Bush's second term, when 21 lower court judges were confirmed. After today only three article III judges remain on the Senate's Executive Calendar; two district nominees and one circuit nominee.

Yet we hear the same old story. Somehow our friends on the other side of the aisle, the Senate majority, the Senate Democrats, cite this as evidence of obstructionism. Compare that to June 2004, when 30 judicial nominations were on the calendar, 10 circuit, 20 district.

I do not recall any Senate Democrat complaining about how many nominations were piling up on the calendar, nor do I remember protests from my colleagues on the other side that judicial nominees were moving too slowly.

Some of those nominees had been reported out of committee more than 1 year earlier and most were pending for months. Some of them never did get an up-or-down vote. The bottom line is that the Senate is processing the President's nominees exceptionally fairly. I do not know why that message cannot get through. It is an excuse to abuse the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate.

President Obama certainly is being treated more fairly in the beginning of his second term than Senate Democrats treated President Bush in the first year of his last term in office. It is not clear to me how allowing more votes so far this year than President Bush got in an entire year amounts to ``unprecedented delays and obstruction.'' Yet that is the complaint we hear over and over and over again from the other side.

I wanted to set the record straight. It is a sad commentary that I have to spend so much time when figures speak for themselves. But I will set the record straight again before we vote on the nomination of Ms. Dorsey.

I have concerns with this particular nominee. I think all Members are aware of the press accounts of campaign contributions which were made at the time this nomination was under consideration. We have not received a full explanation of what happened. Nevertheless, I am concerned about the appearances of these contributions and how such actions might undermine the public confidence that our citizenry must have in the judicial branch of our government.

I also have concerns about Ms. Dorsey's qualifications to be a Federal judge. She has no criminal law experience. She has participated in only six trials, one as a sole counsel, one as first chair, and four as second chair. I am concerned that her lack of experience will be a problem when she gets to the bench.

It is not surprising to me that the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave her a partial ``not qualified'' rating. I am also concerned with her understanding of the proper role of a judge.

While in law school, she wrote a note that praised the Justices who wrote Roe v. Wade. She praised them for the willingness to ``forge ahead to create a just outcome without regard to the usual decisional restraints.'' Then, she said, ``The majority made the just decision and then forced history and stare decisis to fit that decision.''

Ms. Dorsey praised judges who made their decision--and I want to use her words--``without regard to the usual decisional restraints.'' Those words are not the kind of words judges should be using. That is not the kind of judges we want, those who are activist judges who impose their own policy preferences rather than in following enacted law or precedent.

What do we want? We want judges who will be restrained by precedent and by the laws Congress passes. Although Ms. Dorsey said she no longer supports what she once wrote, I am unconvinced she will be able to lay her policy preferences aside when they conflict with what the law dictates she ought to do.

For all the reasons I mentioned above, I cannot support the nominee. I have two news articles that describe the campaign contribution issue I discussed earlier. I ask unanimous consent that those articles be printed in the Record.


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


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