Grassley Statement at the Nominations Hearing of Pamela Harris
Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Hearing on the Nominations of:
Pamela Harris, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit
Pamela Pepper, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
Brenda K. Sannes, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York
Patricia M. McCarthy, to be a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims
Jeri Kaylene Somers, to be a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
First, I’d like to congratulate today’s nominees and their families. It’s an important milestone in all of your careers and I welcome you here today.
Today, as is our custom for nominations hearings, we are hearing from five nominees: one to the Fourth Circuit, two to District Courts and two to the Court of Federal Claims.
This committee continues to process nominees very quickly. For example, today’s nominee to the Fourth Circuit has been pending for only 47 days. By comparison, President Bush’s circuit court nominees waited, on average, 246 days for a hearing, more than five times the wait for this nominee.
In fact, quite a few of President Bush’s circuit court nominees never received a hearing. For example, in 2007, President Bush tried to fill the circuit court seat that Professor Harris has been nominated to, when he nominated Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. However, Mr. Rosenstein’s nomination lacked support from the home state senators and his nomination didn’t move forward.
I’ve reviewed the records of today’s nominees carefully. Professor Harris has an extensive record speaking on important constitutional issues and has written appellate briefs on several significant cases.
Obviously, how a nominee views the Constitution, and the court’s role in interpreting the document, is of great importance. I will say that I have some concern with aspects of Professor Harris’ record.
I’m interested in learning more about what Professor Harris means when she writes about “progressive readings” of the Constitution and her views on originalism. I look forward to discussing some of my concerns with her today in this public forum.
Nominations hearings are vitally important in helping senators as we vote to fill seats in the federal judiciary with judges who we hope will fairly and impartially follow the law and who are not beholden to a conservative or liberal bias. I give each nominee that comes before me careful and individual consideration. And I look forward to hearing from the nominees today. Welcome to you all.