Photo of Iowa
For Immediate Release
December 3, 2012

Setting the Record Straight: Lame-Duck Sessions and Judicial Nominations

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
The Nomination of
Paul William Grimm, to be United States District Judge for the District of Maryland
Monday, December 3, 2012

Mr. President,

    Today, for only the fourth time in over 70 years, we will confirm a federal judge during a lame-duck session in a presidential election year.  According to the Congressional Research Service, the Senate has confirmed judicial nominees during a lame-duck session in a presidential election year on only three occasions since 1940.  It occurred in 1944, 1980, and 2004.  So for those who say we are treating this President differently, I would say we have treated him far better than most Presidents.

    This year we have already confirmed 31 district judges and 5 circuit judges.  That meets or exceeds the confirmations for presidential election years in recent memory.  
    
    That is more confirmations than we did in 2008;

    It exceeds the district confirmations in 2004 and ties the circuit confirmations for that year;

    It is the same number of district confirmations in 2000;

    And, it is considerably more than we confirmed in 1996.  

    So for the past five presidential election years, this year stands near the top for judicial confirmations.  

    Yet, despite that record, and despite the fact that we are about to confirm yet another district court nominee, all we hear from the other side are complaints.  I must say, it makes it quite difficult to work cooperatively – no matter what you do – all you hear are complaints.  

    Lately we have heard 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.  
    
    The last time a President was reelected (President Bush in 2004), we heard a different tune from Democrats.  

    That year, the other side was in no hurry to confirm President Bush’s nominees.  In fact, only 3 judicial nominees were confirmed after the November 2004 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 2004.

    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 that is simply not the case.
 
    Let me tell my colleagues what that means – 1 circuit confirmation in 1980, and 3 district confirmations in 2004.  That’s it.  From 1980 through 2008, those four nominations represent the entire list.  

    There were no such confirmations in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, or 2008.   

    Furthermore, limiting this list to “reported with bipartisan committee support” fails to take into account that many judicial nominees in the past administration were subjected to a “pocket filibuster.”  That means, of course, that they never had a hearing or opportunity to be reported out of committee.  So, it is somewhat misleading to suggest the Senate routinely confirms nominees during presidential lame duck sessions of Congress.

    Again, the last time a President was reelected, only 3 of his nominees were confirmed following the election.   Today we will add to that exclusive list, and the Senate has a time agreement for a vote on a second district nominee before we adjourn.  
    
This afternoon, we are considering the nomination of Paul William Grimm, to be United States District Judge for the District of Maryland.  With his confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 159 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 Judge Grimm will be the 32nd district judge confirmed.  That is a total of 37 judges this year versus 28 in the last presidential election year.   

    So once again, I want to set the record straight, and I hope I have done so.  Republicans have been more than fair to this President and his judicial nominees.

    Judge Grimm received his J.D. degree in 1976, graduating magna cum laude from the University of New Mexico School of Law.  He began his legal career serving in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.  After resigning his active duty commission in 1979, he established a general practice law partnership of Daniels & Grimm.    In 1980, Grimm left the firm to serve as a prosecutor in the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.    In this position, he handled both misdemeanor and felony cases.  From 1981 to 1984, Judge Grimm served in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office as the Chief of Litigation and Administration for the Department of Licensing Regulation.  
 
     Judge Grimm had his first prolonged stint in private practice serving as an attorney for the firm of Niles, Barton & Wilmer from 1984 – 1987.  He was initially hired as an associate, but was promoted to partner in 1985.  At Niles, Barton & Wilmer, he handled products liability cases, fidelity and surety cases, general tort cases, professional malpractice cases, and construction cases.  In 1987, he joined Jordan, Coyne, Savits & Lopata as the managing partner of the Baltimore Branch.  In 1991, he returned to Niles, Barton & Wilmer when Jordan, Coyne closed its Baltimore office.    Throughout his time in private practice, his typical clients included government agencies, insurance companies, private corporations, partnerships, law firms, accounting firms, and individuals.

     In 1997, the U.S. District Judges for the District of Maryland appointed Judge Grimm to be   a United States Magistrate Judge.  In 2006, he was elevated to Chief United States Magistrate Judge.  

    Judge Grimm has served as an Adjunct Professor of law at the University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law (1990 – present), and at the University of Baltimore School of Law (1997 – present).      The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has rated him Unanimous Well Qualified.     

    I support this nomination and congratulate Judge Grimm.