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Unanimous Consent Request -- Executive Calendar

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PRYOR. Madam President, I wish to respond and further explain.

We have two judges pending on the calendar right now. In the sequence of judges to be considered, they are No. 2 and No. 7; one is Timothy Brooks and the other is James Moody.

Tim Brooks was nominated by the White House in June and came out of the Judiciary Committee in October. Jay Moody was nominated by the White House in July and came out of the Judiciary Committee in November.

On the Federal bench in Arkansas district court level, we have eight judges. We now have two vacancies. I don't wish to be dramatic and declare a judicial emergency, but certainly people should understand we are only working at 75 percent horsepower right now and we need to get these judges confirmed forthwith.

Yesterday, I stood at my desk and notified the Senate I was going to make this request. I did not receive an objection, as far as I know--unless maybe a staff person talked to a staff person. But I never heard of any objection.

It is bad enough to have 25 percent of our judiciary in Arkansas which needs to be filled, but the real urgency for this is a matter of State law. James Moody is an elected State court judge. He is an elected trial court judge. Under Arkansas law, this is a nonpartisan position. Our filing deadline for the 2014 election cycle opens on the 24th of February and it goes to March 3.

So here is the problem: Today is February 12. We are about to have a snowstorm tonight and the next few days and next week we are on recess. We come back on February 24. The filing period will already be open in Arkansas. I wish I could tell Judge Moody:

Don't worry about it; you are going to be confirmed when we get back. The way things have worked around here recently, I can't give him that guarantee. I can't give him my word. I can't tell him: Judge, don't file for reelection. Just go ahead and wait and trust that this is going to happen. I can't do that under the circumstances. So he is in limbo.

There are other lawyers and judges in Arkansas who want to run for his position. There is a domino effect in the local judiciary and local bar about this.

Under Arkansas State law, once he files, he cannot get his name off the ballot. These are nonpartisan elections. If they were party elections, he could go to the State party and they could handle it through their primary process or through their rules or whatever. But that is not the case here. There is no party to go to. Once he files and his name is on the ballot, he is on the ballot, and that is a big problem. This is causing a lot of problems back home.

There is no principle involved here. There is no reason why these two judges should be held over. They should have been done at the end of last year. I asked my colleagues to help me do that; I was told no.

We need to get these judges done now so we don't create this problem in Arkansas. Both of these judges are very well qualified. They have all the credentials the American Bar Association looks at. As far as I know, every lawyer in Arkansas is unanimously for both. In fact, I heard my colleague Senator Boozman of Arkansas tell the Republican leader last week: MITCH, if you were picking these judges yourself, you couldn't pick any two better judges.

That is a paraphrase, but that is in effect what he said, and it is true. These are noncontroversial judges. Both these judges should be confirmed now so we don't cause this problem in Arkansas.

I yield the floor, but I will continue to push for these nominations.


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