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For Immediate Release
October 30, 2002
Excerpt from the President's Remarks on Judicial Confirmations
"The eight who are stalled in the Judiciary Committee include people such as John Roberts. John Roberts has argued 38 cases before the Supreme Court. He has served as Deputy Solicitor General of the United States. He's widely regarded as one of the best Supreme Court lawyers in America.
"And they include Miguel Estrada, who has argued 15 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and has served in the Justice Department under Presidents of both political parties as a federal prosecutor and as the Assistant to the Solicitor General.
"The Judiciary Committee has prevented full Senate action on people such as Priscilla Owen, who has served brilliantly on the Texas Supreme Court since 1995, and was overwhelmingly reelected by the people of Texas in the year 2000. Mr. Roberts, Mr. Estrada and Justice Owen have the highest ratings from the American Bar Association, which some Democrat Senators have called, "the gold standard." They have broad support among lawyers in both political parties. Both Mr. Roberts and Mr. Estrada have the support of former President Clinton's Solicitor General. Justice Owen is supported by three former Democrat justices of the Texas Supreme Court.
"In all, I have sent to the Senate 32 nominees for the Court of Appeals. They are well qualified men and women with experience, intelligence, character and bipartisan home state support. They represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet the Senate has confirmed only 14 of these 32 nominees, which is far below the pace of past Senates at the start of an administration. It's a lousy record. Not one of my nine pending nominees to fill vacancies on the Sixth and D.C. Circuit Courts has received a Senate vote, not one. As of November, 15 of my Appeals Court nominees will have been forced to wait over a year for a hearing. That's more in this Presidency than under the previous nine Presidents combined.
"There's no good reason why any nominee should endure a year, a year-and-a-half, or more, without the courtesy of an up or down floor vote; there is not one good reason why. Whatever the explanation, we clearly have a poisoned and polarized atmosphere in which well qualified nominees are neither voted up or down; they are just left in limbo. This is unfair to the nominees and their families. This process discourages good people from serving as judges. It's also unfair to the courts themselves, which are forced to handle a growing caseload without the judges they need.
"Nine percent of all federal judgeships in America are now vacant, nine percent. Of the 12 regional Courts of Appeals, the courts right below the Supreme Court, there is a 17 percent vacancy rate. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Court, which rules on many significant Constitutional and regulatory issues, now operates with one-third of its judgeships empty. And the Sixth Court of Appeals which covers Kentucky and Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee, is nearly half empty, with nine active judges doing the work of 16."