June 27, 2019

Feinstein on Third Circuit Phipps Nomination

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke about her concerns with the nomination of Peter Phipps to fill a seat on the Third Circuit despite not having a blue slip returned from one of his home-state senators. His nomination comes after just nine months on the bench as a district court judge.

            Video of her remarks is available here.

            “Today, we’re going to be voting on four judicial nominations and four drug pricing bills.

            I want to begin by addressing the nomination of Peter Phipps to a Pennsylvania seat on the Third Circuit briefly.

            He is currently a district court judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania and I supported his nomination to the district court. He is being elevated to the circuit in less than a year.

            In fact, Judge Phipps has been on the bench for less than nine months. He’s written opinions in only eight cases and has presided over one case that has gone to verdict or judgment.

            Judge Phipps also acknowledged at his hearing that he had not had any criminal trials come before him.

            In addition, he lacks a blue slip from Senator Casey. Senator Casey has returned a blue slip on 11 district court nominees and Stephanos Bibas, a Trump nominee to the Third Circuit.

            Given his willingness to work with Republicans in the Senate and the White House, it’s very concerning that his blue slip is being ignored in this situation.

            In the past the blue slip was an absolute veto used by one senator to block a nominee – something my Republican colleagues now say cannot happen. The only thing that has changed from then to now is which party is in power.

            This will be the 13th nominee for a circuit court that is being voted on without a blue slip. This is a new practice under the Trump administration. I want to remind my colleagues what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

            Senator Casey also raised concerns about the need for a diverse candidate to fill this seat. Some of the most racially diverse cities in the country are in the Third Circuit, including Wilmington, Philadelphia and Jersey City.

            In light of all of this, I cannot support Peter Phipps’s nomination to the Third Circuit.”

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