Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
On the Nomination of
Gregory Alan Phillips to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit
Monday, July 8, 2013
I support the nomination of Gregory Alan Phillips, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit. This is the 27th judicial confirmation this year. With today’s confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 198 lower court nominees; we have defeated two. That’s 198-2. That is an outstanding record. That’s a success rate of 99 percent.
And we have been doing that at a fast pace. During the last Congress we confirmed more judges than any Congress since the 103rd Congress, which was 1993-94.
This year, the beginning of President Obama’s second term, we have already confirmed more judges than were confirmed in the entire first year of President Bush’s second term. Let me emphasize that again - we’ve already confirmed more nominees this year than we did during the entirety of 2005, the first year of President Bush’s second term.
After today, only four Article III judges remain on the Executive Calendar – three district nominees and one circuit nominee. Yet, somehow Senate Democrats cite this as evidence of obstructionism.
Compare that to the calendar of June 2004, when 30 judicial nominations were on the Calendar – 10 circuit and 20 district. I don’t recall any Senate Democrats complaining about how many nominations were piling up on the calendar.
Nor do I remember protestations from my colleagues on the other side that judicial nominees were moving too slowly. Some of those nominees had been reported out more than a year earlier and most were pending for months. And some of them never got an up or down vote.
The bottom line is that the Senate is processing the President’s nominees exceptionally fairly. President Obama certainly is being treated more fairly in the beginning of his second term than Senate Democrats treated President Bush in 2005. It is not clear to me how allowing more votes so far this year than President Bush got in an entire year amounts to “unprecedented delays and obstruction.” Yet, that is the complaint we hear over and over from the other side.
Mr. President, after today’s votes there will be 84 vacancies in the federal judiciary. But 53 of those spots are without a nominee. How is it Republicans’ fault that the President has not sent 53 nominees to the committee? Obviously, common sense ought to tell you that we can’t act on nominees who are not presented to the Senate.
So I just wanted to set the record straight—again—before we vote on this nomination. Mr. Phillips received his B.S. in 1983 and his J.D. in 1987, both from the University of Wyoming. Upon graduation, he served as a law clerk from 1987 to 1989 to the Honorable Alan B. Johnson, United States District Judge for the District of Wyoming. After completion of his clerkship, he worked in private practice in the town Evanston. There he practiced a wide variety of civil law, including personal injury, wills and estates, real property, contracts, worker’s compensation, employment, domestic relations, and bankruptcy. For a few months during this time, Mr. Phillips served as a part-time deputy county attorney, mostly prosecuting misdemeanor crimes until a new county attorney could be elected.
In 1998, Mr. Phillips and Matthew H. Mead (presently serving as Governor of Wyoming) opened a law practice in Cheyenne, focusing on Medicaid, insurance, banking, and federal tort claims law. Mr. Phillips served as a special attorney general during this period, handling a Medicaid third-party and estate reimbursement for Wyoming.
Mr. Phillips joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2003 as an Assistant United States Attorney, where he first worked on both civil and criminal issues before shifting to exclusively criminal work. In 2011, Mr. Phillips was appointed by Governor Mead to be Attorney General of the State of Wyoming. As Attorney General, he manages five law divisions, overseeing arguments before the Wyoming Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.