California

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Sen. Feinstein: Setting the record straight on judicial nominees and blue slip
(Democrat - California) 05/24/17
"Some Senate Republicans have recently suggested that the so-called “blue slip” for judicial nominees is less important for circuit court nominations than district court nominations. (The blue slip is a process where both senators must sign off on judicial nominations in their own state.) In fact, no Obama administration district or circuit court nominee received a Judiciary Committee hearing unless both home-state senators approved of the nominee by returning their blue slips. The Senate is set to vote on the nomination of Judge Amul Thapar to fill a nearly 1,400-day vacancy on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Thapar’s nomination by President Trump was only possible because the blue slip was always honored for circuit court nominees during the Obama administration. President Obama last year nominated Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes to this Sixth Circuit vacancy. She received a unanimous well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association. However, Judge Tabor Hughes never received a hearing in the Judiciary Committee because both Kentucky senators did not return their blue slips.... Senate Democrats did not abandon the blue slip during the Obama administration even though the Senate Judiciary Committee was controlled by Democrats for six of the eight years. For example, Judiciary Committee Democrats did not advance Obama nominees in any of the following situations: Only one home-state senator returned the blue slip. Senators initially returned blue slips but later rescinded them. Judicial vacancies were left open for years. Senators recommended a nominee to the White House for a district court vacancy, but refused to return a blue slip for that same nominee when nominated to a circuit court vacancy. The blue slip serves an important purpose by incentivizing meaningful consultation and cooperation between the White House and Senate on judicial nominees. Eliminating the blue slip is essentially a move to end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees, allowing nominees to be hand-picked by right-wing groups. During the administrations of President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, no circuit court or district court nominees were confirmed without blue slips from both home-state senators. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote in a 2014 op-ed, “I continued this blue slip tradition. Not a single district court nominee received a committee hearing, and not one appeals court nominee was confirmed without the support of their home-state senators…”"

Sen. Harris Delivers Floor Remarks Against Gorsuch Nomination
(Democrat - California) 04/04/17
"I ask my colleagues: why does Judge Gorsuch seem to believe that corporations deserve full rights and protections, but women don’t? As we mark Equal Pay Day today, Americans deserve a Supreme Court Justice who will protect the rights of women in the workplace. Judge Gorsuch won’t.... He ignores the complexities of human beings—the humiliating sting of harassment, the fear of a cancer patient or a worker who feels his life’s in danger."

Sen. Feinstein on Gorsuch: "I cannot support this nomination"
(Democrat - California) 04/03/17
Video: Senator Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivers her opening remarks at the Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice on April 3, 2017.

Sen. Feinstein Opposes Gorsuch Nomination
(Democrat - California) 04/03/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced her opposition to Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court: Senator Feinstein’s full remarks at the Judiciary Committee follow: ...

Sen. Kamala Harris: Why I cannot support Judge Gorsuch
(Democrat - California) 03/23/17
"President Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, certainly has a paper resume that would impress legal scholars. But his rulings repeatedly have failed to achieve justice for all Americans.... The rest of Judge Gorsuch’s record also shows he’s willing to favor corporations over the American people. He believes companies can impose their religious views on employees and deny women birth-control coverage. And he has been hostile toward federal agencies that protect American workers and consumers.... Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued narrow legalisms over real lives. I must do what’s right. I cannot support his nomination."

Sen. Feinstein Speaks at Supreme Court Nomination Hearing
(Democrat - California) 03/20/17
"Unfortunately, due to unprecedented treatment, Judge Garland was denied a hearing .... It is the Supreme Court that will have the final word on whether corporations will be able to pollute our air and water with impunity.... Congress relies on agency experts to write the specific rules, regulations, guidelines and procedures necessary to carry out laws we enact. These are what ensure the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act to protect our environment from pollution.... Judge Gorsuch’s position, were it to be adopted, would take away agencies’ authorities to address these necessary details.... if we were to dogmatically adhere to “originalist” interpretations, then we would still have segregated schools and bans on interracial marriage. Women wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under the law. And government discrimination against LGBT Americans would be permitted."

Sen. Feinstein: Gorsuch Documents Incomplete
(Democrat - California) 03/14/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on Judge Neil Gorsuch to provide additional documents in advance of his nomination hearing for the Supreme Court. “With your hearing only six days away, it has come to my attention that your response via the Department of Justice to my letter of February 22 is incomplete and must be supplemented immediately,” Feinstein wrote. Feinstein went on to request additional documents and information in several areas she said were incomplete, including a number of issues related to executive power and national security, such as litigation Judge Gorsuch participated in or may have supervised as a high-ranking official in the Bush Justice Department from 2005 to 2006. “Documents produced by the Justice Department demonstrate you had a leading role in litigation and strategy over executive power and national security matters that have not yet been identified to the Committee,” Feinstein wrote. Full text of the letter follows:

Senate Judiciary Democrats Request Sessions Testimony on False Statements, Russia Contacts
(Democrat - California) 03/03/17
All nine Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats today requested that Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) call Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appear before the committee to answer questions about false statements during his confirmation process and contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The senators wrote, “The Attorney General’s responses to our questions during his confirmation process were, at best, incomplete and misleading. Given the seriousness of this matter, we do not believe that a written submission to correct the record is sufficient. Members need to hear directly from the Attorney General as well as have the opportunity to ask him questions in public.” Full text of the letter follows:

Sen. Feinstein Requests Additional Information Related to Gorsuch Nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/28/17
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent four letters this month requesting documents and additional information on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Sen. Feinstein on Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination
(Democrat - California) 02/24/17
Feinstein also pushed up against the protesters when she refused to say how she would vote on Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court. As the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I don’t announce what I’m going to do before the hearing,” she said. “I don’t believe that’s right.” But the crowd erupted in boos when she said that she had a good conversation with Gorsuch, with protesters suggesting Feinstein shouldn’t even have met with him. The senator said her two biggest concerns with Gorsuch, or any other Supreme Court nominee, are his views on gun control and women’s reproductive rights. But politics also will play a role, she admitted. The Republican refusal to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat Gorsuch is seeking, “sticks in our craw,” she said. “It’s hard to forget.”

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: 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: ‘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 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 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: http://go.kamalaharris.org/jeff-sessions

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."