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The Honorable Patrick Leahy
United States Senator
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
Today the Committee will consider three nominations for lifetime positions on United States District Courts, and one nomination to be a judge on the Court of International Trade, also a lifetime appointment to an Article III court.
It is in the District Courts, our nation's federal trial courts, where the people, crime victims, criminal defendants, and civil litigants, come into contact with our federal system of justice. It is also the place where they encounter the human face of our system, our federal judges. All federal cases start as cases and controversies involving real people with real problems before the trial courts. Some are appealed to the circuit courts and a few, a very few each year, are reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The four people before us today come with fine reputations and records and are supported by their home-state Senators, both Democrats and Republicans. They have a variety of experiences - two serving in different capacities in the courts they hope to join as lifetime appointees, one who has spent his career in private practice, and the other who comes with prosecutorial experience as a United States Attorney.
If these nominees are confirmed, it will mean that President Bush will have seen 226 judges confirmed, in addition to two Supreme Court justices. This is an indication of what we can achieve when we work together on consensus nominees chosen to serve justice rather than partisan political ends. I would encourage the President to remember that when he makes all of his selections to the bench. Unfortunately, sometimes this President chooses to send nominees who are selected on ideological grounds and to achieve partisan ends, intending to move the courts far to the right. I have opposed such nominees.
At this time in our history when the importance of judicial review of executive and legislative decisions is so important, our duty to advise and consent to lifetime judicial appointees could not be more vital. I look forward to the testimony of these nominees and to reviewing their records further. I welcome them, their friends and family to this hearing today.
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