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100 Judicial Confirmations this Congress

This news story was published on December 10, 2012.
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Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
The Nomination of Michael P. Shea, to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mr. President,

Today, the Senate turns to the confirmation of another United States District Judge.  According to the Congressional Research Service, the Senate rarely confirms judicial nominees during a lame-duck session in a Presidential election year.  It did so in a very limited fashion in 1944, 1980, and 2004.

The last time a President was reelected – President Bush in 2004 – only 3 judicial nominees were confirmed following the election.   That year, following President Bush’s reelection, 23 judicial nominations that were pending either on the Senate Executive Calendar or in the Judiciary Committee were returned to the President when the Congress adjourned in December.

Today’s vote, the second post-election judicial confirmation, is somewhat of a milestone for this President.  It is the 100th judicial confirmation during this Congress.  That happens to be the same number of confirmations during President Bush’s first term when the Democrats controlled the Senate and chaired the Judiciary Committee.  I have heard the Chairman rightfully take pride in that accomplishment.  Today we match that record.  So I think that the continued complaints we hear about how unfairly this President has been treated are unfounded.

Despite our cooperation, we continue to hear the other side argue that since the President won reelection, we shouldn’t follow past practice, but rather we should confirm a large number of nominations during this lame duck session.  Recently one of my colleagues on the other side stated, “From 1980 until this year, when a lame duck session followed a presidential election, every single judicial nominee reported with bipartisan Judiciary Committee support has been confirmed,”

I suppose this is meant to imply there is some long record of routine confirmations following a presidential election.  But again, that is simply not the case.    The record is one circuit confirmation in 1980, and three district confirmations in 2004.  That’s it.  From 1980 through 2008, those four nominations represent the entire list.   With today’s vote we will add two more confirmations to that exclusive list.

This year we have already confirmed 32 District Judges and 5 Circuit judges.  Today’s vote meets or exceeds the confirmations for Presidential election years in recent memory.  In fact, going back to 1984, there has been only one Presidential election year in which more district judges were confirmed.  Let me emphasize that point – In only one of the past eight Presidential elections have more district nominees been confirmed.

Today we vote on the nomination of Michael P. Shea, to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut.   With this confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 160 of President Obama’s nominees to the district and circuit courts.  During the last presidential election year, 2008, the Senate confirmed a total of 28 judges – 24 District and 4 Circuit.   This presidential election year we have exceeded those numbers.  We have confirmed 5 circuit nominees, and Mr. Shea’s confirmation will be the 33rd district judge confirmation.  That is a total of 38 judges this year versus 28 in the last Presidential election year.

Finally, I would note that Mr. Shea was not reported out of committee by a unanimous vote.  There were concerns about part of his record, and that resulted in a few no votes in committee.  I supported the nomination in committee and will do so again today.  But for those who argue that the Republicans have delayed this nomination just to obstruct, that is not the case.

Mr. Shea received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1989 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1993.   Following graduation from law school, he clerked for James Buckley, United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.  Mr. Shea began his legal career in 1994 at Clearly, Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Washington, D.C. where he worked primarily on civil and criminal antitrust matters.  In October 1995, he moved to Clearly Gottlieb’s Brussels, Belgium office, where he continued to work on antitrust matters, including European Union antitrust issues, as well as international business transactions in Eastern Europe and Africa.  In the summer of 1998, he returned to the D.C. office where he assisted in defending a corporate client in a large money-laundering prosecution.

In September 1998, Mr. Shea returned to Connecticut, accepting a position as an associate at Day, Berry & Howard, now known as Day Pitney.  In 2003, he became a Partner with the firm.  His career there has spanned a broad range of civil and criminal litigation.  His practice included trials and appeals in commercial, civil rights, personal injury, criminal, family and other cases.

He has tried nine cases to verdict, judgment or final decision.  In the past decade, he argued twenty appeals, including six at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave him a Unanimous Qualified rating.

Again, I support this nomination and congratulate Mr. Shea on his anticipated confirmation.  I yield the floor.

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