The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 2, 2001

Letter from Judge Gonzales to Senators Regarding Judicial Nomination Process

May 2, 2001

Dear Senators:

     I write in response to your letter of April 27, 2001.  We agree on the importance  of judicial nominations and the need for the Administration and the Senate to work together constructively to ensure the smooth confirmation of federal judges. Although the Constitution entrusts to the President alone the power to propose nominees, we believe that pre-nomination consultation between the Administration and the home state Senators, regardless of party, will facilitate this process.

     Indeed,  as some of you are aware, we have already engaged in the sort of  process  that your letter encourages.  We have had numerous discussions with  home  state  Democratic and Republican Senators regarding process and existing vacancies. In most cases, we have shared the names of individuals under consideration for federal judicial appointment with home state Senators at least a month prior to the earliest conceivable date for a nomination. In several cases, our consultation has included face-to-face meetings with the home state Senators. A number of additional such meetings are scheduled to take place in coming days. We have taken the Senators' reactions to potential nominees very seriously, and we will continue to do so. In sum, I am very pleased that our practices with respect to the current group of vacancies we have been working on so closely mirror what you have proposed for the vacancies we will address in the future.

     I  have  also  recognized  the  special responsibility each of you, as members  of the Senate Judiciary Committee, bears in this process.  Thus, I have  met  personally  with  all  but  two  of  you  in recent weeks and am attempting to schedule appointments with those of you who were unavailable. The primary purpose of these meetings -- aside from affording us an opportunity to become better acquainted -- is to exchange views regarding the nomination process.

     Under  the  circumstances,  we  generally  agree  with  your  specific suggestions  for  keeping  home  state  Senators informed and seeking their advice.   Allowing for the possibility that there may be specific instances in  which  strict  adherence to every procedure described in your letter is infeasible  or  inadvisable,  and  allowing  for  more  specific agreements regarding  district court nominees as you suggest, we will endeavor in good faith  to  respect  the  suggestions set forth in your letter as we work on additional  vacancies in the future.  In all cases, you may be certain that we  will  work hard to ensure that home state Senators will have a suitable opportunity  to  express  their  views concerning possible nominees well in advance  of  nomination.   In return, we expect that the names of potential nominees  will  be  kept  in  confidence by the Senators consulted so as to avoid  the  possibility  of  undue embarrassment to potential nominees who, after consultation, are not nominated.

     In  closing,  I  wish  to thank you for taking the time to communicate your  views  to  me.   It is my hope that as we move forward our efforts to follow  the  suggestions  in  your  letter will help to ensure the Senate's fair-minded  and  expeditious  consideration  of  the  President's judicial nominees  on their merits.  As your letter reflects, the purpose of advance consultation  is  to  ensure  that  the President's nominees receive prompt hearings before your committee and by the Senate as a whole.  The President will  select  his  judicial nominees based upon their character, integrity, fairness,  experience,  and  intellect.   We  trust  that  the  Senate will evaluate them on the same standards.


                            Alberto R. Gonzales
                            Counsel to the President

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The Honorable Herb Kohl
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
The Honorable Russell D. Feingold
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
The Honorable Maria Cantwell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

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