Nomination of Sri Srinivasan and Court Efficiency Act
Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Hearing on the Nomination of
Sri Srinivasan to be United States Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I want to begin by welcoming the nominee and his friends and family to the Committee today. This is a big moment in your career. You and your family should be proud of your nomination. It is a significant accomplishment.
Before turning to today’s hearing, I wanted to take the opportunity to comment on the progress we have been making on confirming the President’s judicial nominees.
There are a number of individuals from the press here today. Based on what I’ve been reading, there appears to be some confusion about the facts. So I wanted to take a couple of minutes to set the record straight.
Yesterday, the Senate confirmed yet another judicial nominee. That was the 10th judicial nominee we confirmed so far this year, including four circuit court nominees. To put that in perspective, as of today’s date in 2005, we had confirmed zero judicial nominees.
Let me say that again. Yesterday we confirmed the 10th judicial nominee so far this year. As of April 10, 2005, the Senate had confirmed zero of President Bush’s nominees. A 10 to 0 record is one that any President should be proud of.
Those 10 nominees are on top of a near record setting 112th Congress. During the 112th Congress, we confirmed 111 of President Obama’s judicial nominees. You have to go back 20 years to find a more productive Congress (103rd).
So, to date, we have confirmed a total of 181 of President Obama’s judicial nominees. 171 during his first term, and 10 so far this year. During that same time, the Senate has defeated only two nominees. That is a record of 181 to 2. Stated another way, the President has a batting average of .989. I don’t know how any President could complain about that kind of average.
Finally, on this subject, I would note that we hear a lot about the vacancy rates. There are currently 86 vacancies for federal courts. But of course, you never hear the President mention the 62 vacancies that have no nominee. That is because those 62 vacancies represent nearly 75 percent of the total vacancies.
So, to sum up. Whether you consider the 10 to 0 record we’ve set so far this year; or, the record setting 112th Congress; or, the overall record of 181 to 2, the Senate has been doing its job, and doing so quickly.
In fact, there is only one record the President should not be proud of, and that is record he controls: namely, the 62 vacancies that do not have a nominee.
Now, I would like to spend a couple minutes discussing the D.C. Circuit. As most of my colleagues know, the D.C. Circuit is the least busy circuit in the country. In fact, it ranks last or almost last in nearly every category that measures workload.
Based on the 2012 statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the D.C. Circuit has the fewest number of appeals filed per authorized judgeship, with 108. By way of comparison, the 11th Circuit ranks first with over 5 times as many appeals filed per authorized judgeship, with 583.
Likewise, the D.C. Circuit has the fewest appeals terminated per authorized judgeship, with 108. By way of comparison, the 11th circuit ranks first with 540 appeals terminated per authorized judgeship. The Second Circuit has the second highest number of appeals terminated per authorized judgeship, with 440. Again, that is 4 times as many appeals terminated per judgeship than the D.C. Circuit.
The same is true for appeals pending per authorized judgeship. In 2012, the D.C. Circuit had 120 appeals pending per judgeship, which is essentially tied with the 10th Circuit for the least number of appeals pending per judgeship. By contrast, the Second and Eleventh Circuits have 343 and 323 appeals pending per judgeship, which is nearly three times as many.
Given this imbalance in workload, today I am introducing the Court Efficiency Act. A number of my colleagues are co-sponsoring the legislation, including Senators Hatch, Sessions, Graham, Cornyn, Lee, Cruz and Flake.
This legislation is straightforward. It would add a seat to the Second and the Eleventh Circuits. At the same time, it would reduce the number of authorized judgeships for the D.C. Circuit from 11 to 8.
If adopted, this legislation would be a significant step towards rectifying the extreme disparities between the D.C. Circuit and the Second and Eleventh circuits.
Now, I want to make sure everyone understands what this legislation would do, and just as importantly, what it would not do.
First of all, this legislation would not impact the seat that today’s nominee has been nominated to. Mr. Srinivasan has been nominated to the 8th seat on the D.C. Circuit. And this legislation would reduce the total number of seats on the D.C. Circuit from 11 to 8. So, again, this legislation would have no impact on today’s nominee.
Second, it is important to note that this legislation will take effect upon enactment. Historically, legislation introduced in the Senate altering the number of judgeships has most often postponed enactment until the beginning of the next President’s term. Our legislation does not do this.
Instead, we have drafted this legislation to take effect immediately. As a result, President Obama would still have the opportunity to make two of these appointments. The only difference is that those appointments would be to the Second and Eleventh Circuits, where they are needed, rather than to the D.C. Circuit, where they clearly are not needed.
Finally, I would note that this legislation would save taxpayer dollars. Last Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored legislation that would have created a number of new district court judgeships. The CBO concluded that the cost associated with those new judgeships would be approximately $1 million per judgeship, per year.
We do not have a score from the Congressional Budget Office, but given that we are reducing the total number of circuit judgeships by one, it will certainly be a cost saver.
Mr. Chairman I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.
It is an efficient allocation of resources. It saves taxpayer dollars. And it will be a significant step towards addressing the severe imbalance in the workloads between some of these circuits.
Again, I thank the nominee for being here today, and I looking forward to hearing his testimony.