September 07, 2022

Durbin Questions Judicial Nominees in Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee nominations hearing, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Cindy K. Chung, nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, and Justice Tamika R. Montgomery-Reeves, nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit. Durbin first questioned Justice Montgomery-Reeves on her reasoning in Doe v. Coupe, in which she considered a Fourth Amendment challenge to a Delaware law that required certain convicted sex offenders to wear GPS monitors at all times as a condition of release.

“My understanding is that there was no dispute over whether the monitors constituted a ‘search’ under the Fourth Amendment, but the parolees argued that such monitoring was unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional. You disagreed and upheld the state law. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed your decision. Could you walk us through your reasoning in that decision?” Durbin asked.

Justice Montgomery-Reeves confirmed it was a state law statute that required the use of an ankle bracelet. Since the Delaware Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court had not previously decided this type of case, and after researching other decisions that addressed the issue, she concluded, “people on probation and parole are analyzed under a different standard and when applying that standard, the statute was constitutional.”  

Durbin went on to question Chung about her role as a public figure should she be confirmed to the Third Circuit. Chung stated she will be fair and will uphold the Constitution.

Video of Durbin’s questioning of Justice Montgomery-Reeves and Chung in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questioning of Justice Montgomery-Reeves and Chung in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questioning of Justice Montgomery-Reeves and Chung in Committee is available here.

Durbin then questioned nominees on the hearing’s second panel. He began by asking Judge Mia Roberts Perez, nominee to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, about ghost guns.

“I am very concerned about the dangerous role ghost guns currently play in the rise in gun violence in this country… So I want to ask you about a case you presided over this year dealing with charges related to ghost guns. In Commonwealth v. Williams, the defendant sold 15 homemade and untraceable ghost guns to a man he knew to be a convicted murderer. You sentenced the defendant to 15 to 30 years of incarceration. Can you tell us more about the underlying offenses?” Durbin asked.

Judge Perez responded that the defendant, Mr. Williams, was making 15 ghost guns in the basement of his home. Williams was a former veteran who had been deployed to war zones, knowing the danger of these weapons. Judge Perez stated, “ghost guns are literally impossible to track and they are definitely contributing to the amount of gun violence we are seeing.”

Durbin concluded by asking Judge Kai N. Scott, nominee to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, about her extensive courtroom experience, specifically in regards to cases that deal with mental illness and addiction.

“We have become more and more sensitive to mental illness and addiction. What can you tell us as a Judge about your lifetime [of] experience dealing with that sort of challenge?” Durbin asked.

Judge Scott responded that, throughout her extensive career, she has carefully analyzed cases that deal with individuals with mental illness and addiction. After following the facts of the case, she will then conclude the best course of action for these individuals.

Video of Durbin’s questioning of Judge Perez and Judge Scott in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questioning of Judge Perez and Judge Scott in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questioning of Judge Perez and Judge Scott in Committee is available here.

The five Pennsylvania nominees at today’s hearing have bipartisan support from their home-state Senators, Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

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