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Feinstein Speaks on Controversial Ninth Circuit Nominees

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke on the nominations of Kenneth Lee and Dan Collins to serve on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Neither nominee has had blue slips returned by either Senator Feinstein or Senator Harris.


            “I am very disappointed that the committee is holding a hearing [on these two nominations]. As you know, both Senator Harris and I have not returned our blue slips on either Mr. Lee or Mr. Collins. So, the result of this action is to effectively kill the blue slips for the circuit court, at least as long as control is on your side.


            I’ve spoken at length on the importance of the blue slip so I’m not going to restate everything I’ve said, but around here what goes around, comes around. And the blue slip, in the 25 years I’ve been on this committee, has been an effective way of ensuring home-state senators, regardless of party, have a say on the nominees whose decisions will directly impact their constituents.


            So, I really regret that this hearing is being held when two blue slips from the state that this nominee will represent have not come in. And as we have publicly stated, our opposition to both is well-founded


            In Mr. Lee’s case, he failed to provide over 75 articles to our judicial selection committees, despite repeated requests to do so. While many of these writings are from Mr. Lee’s time in college, others date from his time as a practicing lawyer.


            In addition, the committee received 60 pages of articles – that had previously been unidentified – in the days before this hearing, and over 18 months after he was interviewed by my bipartisan in-state committee.


            Further, these articles were submitted only after my staff and the press identified individual writings that were missing. Given these repeated omissions, it’s reasonable to ask whether there are additional pieces authored by Mr. Lee that still have not been turned over, and I will do that.


            We can ask Mr. Lee about these writings as they demonstrate very strong personal views on issues including immigration, affirmative action and voting rights.


            I’ve also previously indicated concerns about Mr. Collins’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit. As Senator Harris and I noted in a joint press release, our in-state vetting process issues were with Mr. Collins’s temperament and rigidity.


            Specifically, our vetting process had identified that Mr. Collins has a ‘history of taking strong litigation positions for no reason other than attempting to overturn precedent and push legal boundaries.’


            In reviewing Mr. Collins’s record, there are additional concerns about positions he has taken on women’s reproductive rights, the use of military commissions to try enemy combatants and his views on the rights of criminal defendants. And I have questions about a provision in the 2006 PATRIOT Act that Mr. Collins is said to have authored, which stripped federal district court judges of the power to appoint interim United States Attorneys.


            Mr. Chairman, it’s not too late to return to honoring the blue slip of home-state senators of both parties, not just on district court nominations, but on nominations to the circuit as well.


            I hope you will do that, and I hope that after this hearing today, you will not allow these nominees to receive a committee vote or advance to the full Senate.”