Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Urgency Of Confirming President Biden’s Judicial Nominees And The Need To Confirm Kristen Clarke To Be Assistant Attorney General For Civil Rights

May 13, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the responsibility to confirm President Biden’s nominations to more than 80 vacancies in the federal judiciary and redress the imbalance that the Trump administration caused by confirming hard-right judges. Senator Schumer also spoke on the importance of the nomination of Kristen Clarke to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:

Over the past several months, the Senate has moved quickly to confirm nominees to serve in President Biden’s cabinet and throughout his Administration. The Senate also has a constitutional duty to provide advise and consent on the President’s judicial nominations. And the Senate will begin to fill judicial vacancies, very soon.

This morning, the Judiciary Committee is holding the first markup for a slate of President Biden’s judicial nominations, including two circuit nominees and three district court nominees, who will all receive a vote in the committee next week. The Senate is now going to scale up our efforts to fill more than 80 vacancies in the federal judiciary.

It’s no secret that, lacking a robust legislative agenda, the Republican majority under President Trump focused on judges, confirming around 200. President Obama, in his eight years, appointed 320. So even though on a four year to four year basis, Trump did more, overall Obama has a greater effect on the judiciary than Trump. Now, President Biden has the opportunity to fill more than 80 vacancies, likely more.

Under this Democratic majority, the Senate will swiftly and routinely take up President Biden’s appointments to the federal bench. It will redress the imbalance that the Trump administration caused by choosing so many judges who were so far hard-right, way out of the mainstream, not just of the American people but even of the Republican party.

President Biden’s judicial candidates provide a stark contrast to the quality, to the caliber of President Trump’s nominations. President Biden’s nominees are qualified, mainstream, and actually reflect the diversity of the country. Many have spent years as public defenders, an experience that’s sorely lacking on the federal bench. They also include the first Native American to be nominated to a federal court, the second-ever Puerto Rican, and the second black woman to sit on the second circuit in my home state of New York. Very proud of that.

That’s a far cry from what we got under President Trump and then-Majority Leader McConnell.

For four years, the Republican leader turned the Senate into a conveyor belt for inexperienced lawyers, many with deeply radical views on women’s choice, voting rights, criminal justice, and civil rights. A few of them were so extreme on the issues of race and voting that Republican Senators joined with Democrats to reject those nominations.

With President Biden, we are going to bring balance back to the federal judiciary by confirming judges who are beholden to the law, not some far-right agenda.

And, on another issue in the Judiciary Committee, this morning the Judiciary Committee will also vote on a very important nominee to the Department of Justice: Kristen Clarke to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for civil rights.

The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Ms. Clarke is an extremely well-qualified and capable civil rights attorney who would be the first Black woman to ever fill her position at the Justice Department. But her obvious quality did not stop a few of our Republican colleagues from trying to smear her record.

The political right seems to relish in trying to score political points by connecting every Justice Department nominee—many of whom happen to be women of color—to hot-button partisan issues, whether or not they have any relevance.

In Ms. Clarke’s hearing, it reached the point of absurdity when she was grilled on an obviously satirical piece she published for her college newspaper.

Just like Ms. Vanita Gupta—who I’m proud to say is now the Associate Attorney General—Ms. Clarke was treated by the minority on the Judiciary Committee like some hair-raising radical, despite her record, her qualifications, and her support from all sides. And just like Ms. Gupta, Ms. Clarke has been endorsed by the nation’s most powerful law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Ms. Clarke is an outstanding, an outstanding nominee, and I urge all of my colleagues on Senate Judiciary to advance her nomination today.

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