Senator Statements


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Sen. Feinstein: Republicans Shutting Down Senator Warren ‘Indefensible’
(Democrat - California) 02/08/17
“In 1986, Coretta Scott King wrote a powerful letter expressing her belief that Jeff Sessions lacked the ‘requisite judgment, competence and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws’ to serve as a federal judge. “Coretta Scott King was a voice worth hearing in 1986 and her opinion certainly remains relevant and valid today. “For Republicans to shut down Senator Warren when she tried to read Coretta Scott King’s letter is indefensible. That action is even more offensive because they allowed her male colleagues to read the exact same passages without batting an eye.”

Sen. Feinstein Votes ‘No’ On Jeff Sessions Attorney General Nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/08/17
Feinstein yesterday spoke against Sessions’s nomination. Full remarks are available here. [LINK] Excerpts from her remarks, as delivered, follow:

Sen. Feinstein on Supreme Court Nominee
(Democrat - California) 01/31/17
“Evaluating Supreme Court nominees is among our most important responsibilities as senators and over the last few days we’ve seen the importance of an independent judiciary. I’ve repeatedly stated that the next justice must have respect for precedent, be within the mainstream and protect the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Judge Gorsuch has a long record and it will take time to conduct a thorough review. “I firmly believe the Supreme Court must be a fair arbiter of the law—not simply another political body that makes decisions based on ideology or partisanship. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have played politics with this seat by refusing to hold courtesy meetings, hearings or even debate on Chief Judge Garland, who had an impeccable 20-year record of service. “I am deeply concerned that throughout his campaign the president promised to use litmus tests when choosing his nominee. Last October, when asked about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, then-candidate Trump said ‘That will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.’ “Then tonight, President Trump declared, ‘I am a man of my word.’ That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. Judge Gorsuch voted twice to deny contraceptive coverage to women, elevating a corporation’s religious beliefs over women’s health care. “At a time when public trust in our institutions is at an all-time low and our country is bitterly divided, a thorough and fair review is vitally important.”

Sen. Feinstein: ‘I Must Vote No’ on Sessions
(Democrat - California) 01/31/17

Sen. Kamala Harris ‏on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - California) 01/31/17
"I am troubled by the nomination of Judge Gorsuch and will fight to ensure the voice of the American people is heard in this process. The next justice will have a profound impact on money in politics, voting rights, immigrant and women's rights, and more. This SCOTUS seat belongs to the people -- and we need someone who will uphold our civil rights.

Sen. Feinstein Requests Delay on Sessions Vote, Links Nomination to Weekend Marches
(Democrat - California) 01/24/17
"This nomination is a very big deal. On Sunday, we received 188 pages of responses to questions submitted for the record following the Sessions hearing. ... In addition, we’ve been told that some members may have follow up questions they would like to submit....ensuring equal rights for all, upholding voting rights for all, demanding equal pay for equal work, maintaining worker’s rights and protecting our environment. It is these principles, these values, that the attorney general must defend. ... Many, many millions of Americans are deeply concerned about what the future will bring. That’s a hallmark of what happened this past Saturday in the march. The least we can do is tell them that we’re being as careful as possible in who we place in charge of making these important decisions. For every woman and man who marched over the weekend, we owe it to them."

Senate Judiciary Democrats to Jeff Sessions: Don’t Block Russia Hack Investigation
(Democrat - California) 01/17/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and all committee Democrats today called on Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), nominee for attorney general, to allow investigations of Russia hacking to proceed and to recuse himself from those proceedings. The letter poses two questions to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the nominee to become attorney general: “Will you commit not to impede or shut down any FBI or Justice Department investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election?” “Will you commit to recuse yourself from any FBI or Justice Department investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election?” Full text of the letter follows:

Sen. Kamala Harris will vote against Jeff Sessions Attorney General nomination
(Democrat - California) 01/14/17
"I have deep concerns about Jeff Sessions ability to defend the rights of all Americans -- I will be voting against his confirmation. We need an Attorney General committed to equal rights for all, including women, people of color, and the LGBT community. It is clear after his confirmation hearings that person is not Jeff Sessions, and that is why I oppose his confirmation as AG. If you agree, please add your name to our petition calling on my Senate colleagues to oppose Sessions as well:

Sen. Cortez Masto Statement Opposing AG Nominee Jeff Sessions
(Democrat - California) 01/12/17
"As a former Attorney General and a former federal prosecutor, I take very seriously the important role that our nation’s top law enforcement officer plays in our system of government. That’s why I remain deeply concerned about the President-elect’s choice of Senator Sessions to lead the Department of Justice. I am troubled by the controversial and racially insensitive rhetoric Senator Sessions has used in the past, as well as his far-right positions on issues ranging from immigration and criminal justice reform to civil rights and voting rights. This is not personal – it is about his record and his views. As the next Attorney General, Senator Sessions would have enormous prosecutorial discretion, and his record in public office indicates to me that he often hasn’t recognized the humanity of the people hurt by his extreme positions, whether it’s undocumented immigrants or the African American community or LGBT Americans. After an ugly and divisive election season, many of my constituents in Nevada are fearful about what lies ahead. They deserve an Attorney General who they can trust to vigorously defend their rights and uphold our laws with impartiality. At a time when our nation needs to come together and heal, Senator Sessions is not the right choice to lead the DOJ and I cannot support this nomination."

Sens. Feinstein and Harris on need for two home-state Senator blue slips for circuit and district court nominees
(Democrat - California) 12/30/16
The blue slip is “an important historical tool that prevents the president from forcing a federal judge, U.S. attorney or U.S. marshal through the Senate,” and is “designed to ensure nominees are qualified and well-suited to serve their states,” Feinstein said in a statement Friday. Michael Troncoso, co-director of Harris’ Senate transition team, said, “If nominees for judge or U.S. attorney lack appropriate experience or have extreme views, that’s the reason you have a blue slip.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in ‘Judicial Emergency’
(Democrat - California) 12/29/16
Sen. Barbara Boxer said the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is facing a “judicial emergency” as she called for a Senate vote Tuesday on San Jose-based U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh’s nomination to the appellate court. As the new year rears its head, the 9th Circuit is facing a four-seat vacancy: Two are currently empty and two will become vacant when other judges assume senior status at the end of 2016.

Sen. Feinstein: More Time Needed to Review Sessions Nomination Documents
(Democrat - California) 12/13/16
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today renewed her call on Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to allow enough time for committee staff to review the more than 150,000 pages of records relevant to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general. Feinstein also called on Grassley to join her in calling on Sessions to provide the committee with information and documents missing from the questionnaire he submitted Friday evening. “First, Senator Sessions’ production is, as I understand it, in excess of 150,000 pages of material. This is more than 100 times what Attorney General Lynch produced (1500 pages) and more than 29 times what Attorney General Holder produced (5100 pages). I am sure you would agree that staff must have sufficient time to do the due diligence on any nominee for this vital position—and this due diligence will likely take longer than the review for recent, prior nominees who had less materials to analyze,” Feinstein wrote. The letter continued: “Second, despite being voluminous, Senator Sessions’ production appears to have been put together in haste and is, on its face, incomplete.” Full text of the letter follows: ...

Sen. Feinstein to Grassley: Sessions Nomination Materials Incomplete, Allow Sufficient Time for Review
(Democrat - California) 12/09/16
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noting that the required nomination materials for Senator Jeff Sessions are incomplete and calling for more time to review his “voluminous” record. Feinstein also noted that past nominations have required extensive materials from third parties and called on Chairman Grassley to allow enough time to acquire and review those documents.

Sen. Boxer: Farewell to the Senate Floor speech
(Democrat - California) 12/07/16
"When I look back on everything I fought for, there are more than a thousand accomplishments, and I am certainly not going to talk about all of those, but I am going to, briefly, very fast, go through 10 of my favorites.... recommending a diverse group of supremely qualified judicial nominees who are carrying out our laws in California's Federal courts."

Sen. Feinstein casts doubt on quick Sessions confirmation
(Democrat - California) 11/29/16
Asked if she was "on board" withholding Sessions' hearing before the inauguration, Feinstein said she doubted the panel could move that quickly. "I don't know that we can," she said. As the incoming ranking member, Feinstein said she would have to wait to hire staff until she officially takes the lead Democratic role on the Committee in early January. "I don't know that all the due diligence can be done [by then]," she said. "I don't become ranking member until next year, and so I won't have the staff when we go [into session in early January]." "…We need the staff to do some of this work and I'm a little bit surprised, but I want to talk to Sen. Grassley," she said. "I have concerns," she told added. "The president has referred to him as his attorney general. There's no such thing as a president's attorney general. You're attorney general on behalf of the people, not the president."

Sens. Feinstein & Boxer on need for 2016 confirmation of Judge Lucy Koh to Ninth Circuit
(Democrat - California) 11/23/16
“With the 9th Circuit facing a judicial emergency, it’s critical that the Senate act on this vacancy,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said in a statement Tuesday, calling Koh a “supremely qualified nominee.” Boxer’s California colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, will play an even more significant role in vetting Trump’s judicial nominees through her newly acquired position as senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Like Boxer, she still holds out hope for Koh. “My staff is working to ensure Judge Koh is included in any end-of-year package of judges, and I look forward to seeing Judge Koh confirmed as soon as possible,” Feinstein said Wednesday.

Senator-elect & California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Statement on President-Elect Trump's Proposed Nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as U.S. Attorney General
(Democrat - California) 11/18/16
"While I have many concerns with President-Elect Trump's nominations to date, the nomination of Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is particularly troubling. Justice Robert Jackson, one of the most esteemed justices to serve on the Supreme Court, wrote of the U.S. Department of Justice, 'The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous.' I know from my own career in law enforcement, civil rights, and the six years I have spent as California's Attorney General how important this role is for our society. The Attorney General is the people's lawyer, a public servant who is sworn to uphold the promise of equal protection under the law and to ensure the fair administration of justice for all. In viewing the role of the U.S. Attorney General through this lens, I have deep concerns about Senator Sessions' nomination. Particularly, I am concerned with his support for policies that would undermine core Department of Justice functions and his views that are incompatible with constitutional guarantees. Like all presidential nominees, Senator Sessions deserves a fair and thorough hearing by the Senate, and I look forward to actively engaging in that process."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Reports of Sessions AG Nomination
(Democrat - California) 11/18/16
“The Justice Department has the awesome responsibility of upholding the country’s laws and protecting Americans, and the attorney general sets the tone for the entire agency. That’s why this position is so important and deserves such intense scrutiny. The attorney general should be above the political fray—our laws absolutely must apply equally to all Americans if we're to have confidence in them. The attorney general’s honesty, integrity and willingness to enforce the law in an even-handed manner are all vital to be effective in this position. The attorney general has jurisdiction over many crucial laws and must discharge his or her duties regardless of personal views. These include enforcing civil rights and voting protections, prosecuting hate crimes and firearm violations, protecting women’s health clinics and upholding the constitutional right to marriage equality. The attorney general oversees immigration judges who will hear cases on individuals applying for asylum status. The Justice Department is the agency that determines what interrogation techniques are permissible under our laws and treaties. It sets the priorities for law enforcement throughout our country. And all of this must be done with objectivity and impartiality. Finally, the attorney general is the lawyer for the people, not the president. His or her primary loyalty must be to the Constitution and the rule of law—and sometimes that means telling the president no. Senator Sessions has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for many years so he’s well aware of the thorough vetting he’s about to receive. And while many of us have worked with Senator Sessions closely and know him to be a staunch advocate for his beliefs, the process will remain the same: a fair and complete review of the nominee. While Senator Sessions and I differ on a great many issues, I am committed to a full and fair process.”

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Becoming Judiciary Committee Ranking Member
(Democrat - California) 11/16/16
"One of our first orders of business will be the consideration of a new attorney general and a new Supreme Court justice. After the unprecedented and disrespectful treatment of Merrick Garland—a moderate judge who should have been quickly confirmed—the committee will pay very close attention to proposed nominees to ensure the fundamental constitutional rights of Americans are protected. “When President-elect Trump is willing to support responsible policies and nominees, I’ll hear him out, but this committee has a vital role to protect the Constitution and scrutinize policies, senior officials and judges very carefully, and that’s what we intend to do. We simply won’t stand aside and watch the tremendous successes achieved over the past eight years be swept away or allow our nation’s most vulnerable populations to be targeted."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on Supreme Court’s New Term
(Democrat - California) 10/04/16
“The Supreme Court today heard the first oral argument of the new term. Due to unprecedented Republican obstruction, the Court begins its term with only eight justices for the first time in 25 years. “Since Justice Scalia’s death, the Court has tied seven times. Two other times it has punted on important issues because the Justices could not reach agreement. These cases have already affected businesses, individuals and families nationwide. “There is a great potential for deadlock, and a deadlocked Supreme Court is no Court at all. It can’t perform its most important function—resolving disputes between lower courts and ensuring clarity in federal law. We are already seeing reports that the Court is avoiding cases to prevent 4-4 ties, and that’s not how the highest Court in our land should be forced to operate. “Judge Merrick Garland’s qualifications are impeccable. I’ve met with him twice and there is no one better suited to be a Supreme Court Justice. Senate Republicans are doing real damage to the institution and undermining our federal judiciary with their actions and I would hope Judge Garland is swiftly confirmed in the lame duck session.”

Sen. Feinstein: The Wrong Path on Judicial Nominees
(Democrat - California) 07/25/16
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: "Unfortunately, Judge Garland now has another distinction: due to unprecedented inaction by Senate Republicans, he has waited longer for a vote than any other Supreme Court nominee.... Republicans are setting another dangerous precedent: lower-court confirmations have slowed to a trickle in the final two years of a presidency. While this obstruction receives far less attention than the Supreme Court vacancy, it has a far-reaching effect on the ability of our lower courts to deliver justice. Confirming well-qualified nominees to these positions is one of the Senate’s most important responsibilities, as district and circuit courts handle the vast majority of federal cases. But this job is not getting done. During the last two years of the George W. Bush administration, a Democratic Senate reduced the number of vacancies. Sixty-eight district and circuit court nominees were confirmed. The number of vacancies was reduced to 34 by October 2008 — the month before the election.... But in the last two years of the Obama administration, just 20 district and circuit court nominees have been confirmed. The last time so few nominees were confirmed was 1952 — when the federal judiciary was one-third of its current size. Vacancies are skyrocketing due to the Senate’s inaction. Eighty-six judgeships are vacant, about 10 percent of the federal judiciary. There will be eight more vacancies by the end of the year — nearly three times as many as there were in October 2008. According to the Judicial Conference of the United States, 29 of these vacancies are judicial emergencies."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on United States v. Texas
(Democrat - California) 06/23/16
“This decision makes clear the severe consequences of a deadlocked Supreme Court. The refusal of Senate Republicans to fulfill their constitutional advise-and-consent rule is unprecedented. With only eight justices, the Supreme Court will continue to tie on important cases, leaving legal questions unanswered and perpetuating uncertainty in federal law.”

Sen. Boxer Statement on Supreme Court Ruling in United States v. Texas
(Democrat - California) 06/23/16
"Right now Republicans - who claim to be the party of family values - are tearing apart millions of families because they refuse to pass comprehensive immigration reform and they refuse to end the gridlock at the Supreme Court by considering President Obama's nominee to the high court. This deadlocked court has dashed the hopes of millions of immigrants who only want to live productive lives with their families in the country that they have called home for many years."

Sen. Boxer Floor Statement: JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS
(Democrat - California) 04/26/16
"I am deeply disappointed that my Republican colleagues continue to play politics with our judicial system. There are currently 79 judicial vacancies in this country--28 of which are judicial emergency vacancies. In each of these districts across the country, Americans are waiting for their cases to be heard, but instead of justice, they are left hanging in the lurch. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Justice delayed is justice denied. Senate Republicans refuse to act to confirm Judge Merrick Garland--who has more Federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court candidate in history--to the Supreme Court, and they refuse to act on the 20 judicial nominees who were reported out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote. It is outrageous that Senate Republicans stubbornly refuse to move these nominations forward, letting these accomplished and qualified nominees languish. One of those judges is Mark Young, an excellent nominee for the Central District Court of California, which is ranked 11th in the Nation in weighted case filings per judgeship. We need to fill this seat as soon as possible ... We also have two additional candidates from California who are awaiting Judiciary Committee hearings. Judge Paul L. Abrams was nominated by President Obama in December 2015 to serve as the U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District. ... Judge Lucy Koh, currently serving in the Northern District, was nominated by President Obama for the Ninth Circuit Court in February of this year. ... Let's move forward with giving each of these excellent judicial candidates the consideration and vote that they deserve."

Sen. Feinstein: Americans suffer if the Senate blocks a Supreme Court nominee
(Democrat - California) 03/08/16
"The Senate has a constitutional obligation to consider the president’s nominee to the court and prevent the potential harm of tie decisions. A deadlocked court means appellate court rulings — often in major cases — remain in place, which would mean the law would vary throughout the land.... Justices themselves have said how important it is to avoid a deadlocked court.... The Senate must do its job and give the president’s nominee full and fair consideration."

Sen. Feinstein Floor statement: FILLING THE SUPREME COURT VACANCY
(Democrat - California) 03/03/16
"I actually can't come up with any reason to refuse to review Obama's nominee other than politics. The only explanation is that Senate Republicans want to deny this President the ability to fulfill his constitutional obligations, and this isn't the only evidence of such targeted obstruction. It has been a sustained course of action for more than a decade now. During the Clinton administration, more than 60 nominees to the Federal courts were blocked by a Republican Senate. Many weren't even given a hearing. A comparison with the final years of President Bush's term is particularly telling. In the 2 final years of the Bush Presidency, the Democratically controlled Senate confirmed 68 judicial nominees. That included 10 confirmations in September of his final year in office. So 8 months from now, back in the Bush years, the Democrats in control were confirming Bush appointments. So far, over President Obama's final 2 years, Republicans have allowed confirmation votes on only 16 judicial nominees.... The length of the process has also ballooned.... Most of these nominees were eventually confirmed by unanimous or near-unanimous votes. So that shows no need for extended delays. There were no problems with the nominees to deserve extended delays. When President Bush left office, there were 34 vacancies. That is a vacancy rate of 3.9 percent. Today there are more than 81 judicial vacancies, nearly 10 percent of all article III judges. Republicans have clearly decided not to do their job, and the American justice system is going to suffer for it."

(Democrat - California) 03/01/16
" Refusing to hold a hearing on a Supreme Court nomination or refusing to take any action on a nomination before it has been made is simply unprecedented in our history. The refusal is not grounded in the Constitution. It is a willful abdication of authority."

Sen. Feinstein Supports Nomination of Lucy Koh to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
(Democrat - California) 02/25/16
“Lucy Koh has excelled in her role as a District Judge for the Northern District of California, and I’m so pleased she is being nominated to the 9th Circuit. Lucy Koh is a highly-respected member of the federal judiciary and will bring a wide-range of experience to the 9th Circuit, having served as a state and federal judge, federal prosecutor and partner at a major law firm. Having confirmed Judge Koh unanimously more than five years ago, I hope the Senate moves quickly on her nomination.”

(Democrat - California) 02/23/16
"I came to the floor because I am stunned. I just learned that the Republicans have announced to the country they will not even call a hearing, if and when President Obama does his job and nominates a replacement for Justice Scalia.... the Senate over the years has repeatedly considered Supreme Court nominees in both election years and in the final year of a President's term.... Ronald Reagan, who was pushing for a vote on a Supreme Court Justice in an election year, said the following: ``Every day that passes with a Supreme Court below full strength impairs the people's business in that crucially important body.''... do your job."

Sen. Feinstein Statement on the Passing of Justice Antonin Scalia
(Democrat - California) 02/14/16
“Over the coming days and weeks, Justice Scalia will be mourned and remembered. However, the work of the Supreme Court will continue. There are important cases pending before the Court, and the prospect of 4-4 decisions is not in the public interest and does a profound disservice to the notions of swift and equal justice in this country. “The president’s authority to fill judicial vacancies remains constant for the duration of his term. President Obama has an obligation to put forward a nominee to succeed Justice Scalia and the Senate has an obligation to quickly consider that nominee. To do otherwise would undermine the branches of government, and leave our country in a precarious position. The American people need a government that works.”