Iowan Jane Kelly Clears Senate to be Circuit Court Judge for Eighth Circuit

14 Obama judicial nominees have cleared Senate this year, compared to 1 Bush nominee in same time period

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

On the Nomination of

Jane Kelly, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eighth Circuit

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mr. President,

I rise today in support of the nomination of Jane Kelly to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eight Circuit.


The nominee before us today, Ms. Kelly, presently serves as an assistant public defender in the Federal Public Defender’s office for the Northern District of Iowa in the Cedar Rapids office.  

She is well regarded in my home state of Iowa and so I’m pleased to support Senator Harkin’s recommendation that he made to the President and subsequently the President’s nomination of Ms. Kelly.

She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Duke University in 1987.    After spending a few months in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar, she went on to Harvard Law School.  She graduated cum laude, earning her J.D. degree in 1991.

Upon graduation, she served as a law clerk – first for Judge Donald J. Porter, United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, then for Judge David R. Hansen of the Eighth Circuit.

Judge Hansen has sent us a letter in support for Ms. Kelly.  He was a person that I have suggested to Republican Presidents for both District Judge and then for his long tenure on the Eighth Circuit.  He has been a friend of mine as well.  This is what now-retired Judge Hansen said in support of Ms. Kelly.   “She is a forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” and that she has an “exceptionally keen intellect”.  Judge Hansen concludes that “she will be a welcomed addition to the Court if confirmed.”   I would add that I have no doubt that she will be confirmed.

Beginning in 1994, she has served as an assistant federal public defender in the Northern District of Iowa in the Cedar Rapids office. She handles criminal matters for indigent defendants and has been responsible for trying a wide range of crimes.  She became the supervising attorney for the Cedar Rapids office in 1999.

Ms. Kelly is active in the bar and in district court matters.  She presently serves on the Criminal Justice Act Panel Selection Committee, the blue-ribbon panel for criminal cases, and the Facilities Security Committee of the district court.   

In 2004, her peers honored her with the John Adams Award from the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Drake University Law School.  She was unanimously chosen for this award, which recognizes individuals who show a commitment to the constitutional rights of criminal defense.

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave her a Unanimous “Qualified” rating.


I congratulate Ms. Kelly on her accomplishments and wish her well in her new duties.  I am pleased to support her confirmation and urge my colleagues to join me.

Now I would like to spend a couple minutes to update my colleagues on the progress we are making with respect to judicial nominations.  

With this confirmation, the Senate will have confirmed 185 judicial nominations to the District and Circuit Courts.  Only two of President Obama’s nominees failed confirmation.  

That’s a record of 185 to 2.  


As I stated last week, a .989 batting average is a record any President would be thrilled with.  Yet this President, without justification, complains about obstruction and delay.

Today’s confirmation is the 14th so far this year – including 5 circuit judges and 9 district judges.  

Let me put that in perspective for my colleagues.  At this point in the second term of the Bush presidency, only one judicial nomination had been confirmed.   A comparative record of 14 – 1 is nothing to cry about.


As I said, this is the fifth nominee to be confirmed as a circuit judge this year, and the 35th overall.   Over 76 percent of his circuit nominees have been confirmed.  President Clinton ended up at 73 percent; President Bush at 71 percent.  So President Obama is doing better than the previous two Presidents.

So again, this President and Senate Democrats should have no complaints on the judicial confirmation process.  The fact of the matter is that President Obama is doing quite well.  I yield the floor.