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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Applauding The Judicial Conference For Heeding His Call To Stop The Anti-Democratic Practice Of Judge Shopping

Washington, D.C.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the Judicial Conference’s decision to stop the practice of judge shopping and restore Americans’ faith in the rule of law. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Last year, I came to the floor a number of times to speak about a grave problem in our federal judiciary known as judge shopping, where hard right litigants bring cases before sympathetic judges in order to push their radical agenda.

Last summer, I led a number of my Senate colleagues in writing to the Judicial Conference asking they recommend policy reforms to better ensure impartiality and basic fairness.

I’m very pleased that last week, the Judicial Conference responded to our concerns by announcing a new policy to assign civil cases that have statewide or national implications to judges at random across a district, instead of going to a predictable single judge in a single division.

These reforms would prevent absurd situations like the one we saw in the Northern District of Texas, where one extremist judge was hand-picked by the hard-right to revoke FDA approval of mifepristone nationwide. If you care at all about impartial courts, last week’s announcement was good news, and probably came across as just common sense.

So, it was quite striking, and frankly deeply troubling, to see the Republican Leader come down to the floor last week and excoriate the Judicial Conference’s announcement.

The Republican Leader accused the Conference of “taking the bait” of partisan Democrats, as if randomly assigning judges is inherently partisan. The Republican Leader seems to want to see judges be hand-picked when we know their views already to make decisions. That flies in the face of justice.  He claimed that it’s not the place of Senators to weigh on how the courts administer themselves. Well, it was Congress who created the Judicial Conference a century ago precisely to recommend policy updates like this.

We all know what, of course, the deal is here – the Republican Leader is fuming because these recommendations would make it harder for hard-right partisans to hijack our courts for their purposes.

Leader McConnell is not even pretending to hide his partisan motivations in this case, and that’s deeply damaging to the trust of our courts.

I would encourage the Republican Leader to focus more on finding ways to restore trust in the judiciary than defending an obviously abusive practice that most Americans would oppose.

And I believe Congress has a duty to conduct oversight of the federal judiciary. We will keep investigating abuses within our court system going forward.