Executive Sessionby Senator Chuck Grassley
Posted on 2013-12-20
GRASSLEY. Madam President, today we consider the nomination of
Brian Davis to be a District Court Judge for the Middle District of
Florida. I will vote for him today (although there has been some
controversy surrounding his nomination). I wish to take a minute to
discuss the nomination.
Judge Davis made a number of controversial remarks a few years ago. During his hearing last Congress, Judge Davis was asked to provide some clarification regarding those comments. After carefully reviewing his answers from the hearing, many of us concluded that they didn't provide the clarity that we had hoped he would provide. For that reason, following his hearing, I asked Judge Davis some follow-up questions for the Record, hoping to get the clarity, in writing, that I didn't hear him provide during his hearing.
Unfortunately, after reviewing his written answers, I concluded that Judge Davis didn't fully appreciate why many found his comments so troubling. For instance, when I asked him about these statements he wrote that a ``number of my statements could be misunderstood'', but he neither apologized for them nor said anything to demonstrate that he fully appreciated why his comments were so problematic.
As a result, in the last Congress I reluctantly opposed his nomination.
Judge Davis, of course, was renominated this Congress. On September 12th, he submitted a letter to the Florida Senators.
In that letter, Judge Davis apologized for his comments--without qualification.
He wrote, ``I believe that several of the statements I made in the past were inappropriate and improper.'' He went on to write, ``I apologize for any inappropriate statements and deeply recognize the harm that they could cause if they gave the misimpression that I am anything other than impartial or that I maintain any bias or prejudice.'' As I wrote to Judge Davis in a follow-up letter on September 25th, unlike the last Congress, I believe the apology Judge Davis transmitted on September 12 for those comments was without qualification. Therefore, in my view, it demonstrated both courage and humility.
In my letter to Judge Davis, I asked him simply to confirm that he was apologizing for his comments regarding Dr. Henry Foster, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, and Justice Thomas.
In a follow-up letter he wrote to me on September 26, he confirmed those were the ``inappropriate comments'' he referenced in his letter to the Florida Senators.
I ask consent that both my letter to Judge Davis, and his response, be made part of the Record.
I have given this nomination a great deal of consideration. I believe Judge Davis has taken steps this Congress that, in my view, he didn't appear willing to take last Congress. Taking this into consideration, together with the fact that he enjoys the support of his home State Senators, I am willing to give Judge Davis the benefit of the doubt and will support his nomination today.
I yield the floor.
Washington, DC, September 25, 2013.
Judge Brian J. Davis, Nassau County Courthouse, Fernandina Beach, FL.
Dear Judge Davis: I write to follow up on your September 12th letter to Senators Nelson and Rubio, copying me and Chairman Leahy, regarding concerns with your record Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including me, raised last Congress.
As you alluded in your letter, during your hearing last Congress, Senator Lee asked you a number of questions regarding various remarks and speeches you made throughout your career. After carefully reviewing the answers you gave during the hearing, I concluded your responses lacked the breadth and clarity I had hoped you would provide when afforded the opportunity. For instance, you conceded that some comments were ``inappropriate,'' but then stated ``they were inappropriate for the reason that an impression could be gotten from them that somehow the court maintained a racial prejudice.'' That response troubled me because it did not appear to fully recognize the reason some find those comments concerning. Specifically, the comments appeared quite plainly to assign a racial motivation to those who opposed particular nominees on purely policy grounds.
Consequently, following your hearing I sent you a number of follow up questions for the record. Again, I was hopeful to receive some clarity regarding those comments. But after carefully reviewing your responses, I reluctantly reached the conclusion that you still did not fully appreciate why some viewed your comments as inappropriate. For instance, I asked about your comments regarding President Clinton's nomination of Dr. Henry Foster's nomination to be surgeon general. But rather than concede what appears to be apparent by the words you used, you answered instead that the comments were inappropriate because they ``could be interpreted'' in a particular way, and therefore that you lacked impartiality. In my view, your answers to several other questions lacked clarity in a similar fashion. For these reasons, among several others, reluctantly I opposed your nomination last Congress.
With this background, I received your letter of September 12th, 2013. In your letter you wrote, without qualification, ``I believe that several of the statements I made in the past were inappropriate and improper.'' You went on to write, ``I apologize for any inappropriate statements and deeply recognize the harm that they could cause if they gave the misimpression that I am anything other than impartial or that I maintain any bias or prejudice.'' I note that these two statements represent a step that you did not appear willing to take last Congress. In my view, this demonstrates both courage and humility. Thank you for that letter.
As your nomination is now again pending before the Committee, I write to seek one further clarification. As I noted, you wrote in your recent letter that you apologize for ``any inappropriate statements,'' but you did not specify the statements to which you referred. I want to confirm that you are referring to your comments regarding Dr. Henry [[Page S9080]] Foster, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, and Justice Thomas.
Thank you in advance for your prompt reply.
Charles E. Grassley, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
____ Circuit Court, Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida, Fernandina Beach, FL, September 26, 2013.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC.
Dear Senator Grassley: Thank you for your letter of September 25, 2013, and the opportunity to further clarify my views.
I understand your concerns, and please know that my appreciation of the inappropriateness of statements I have made in speeches include those referenced in your letter regarding Dr. Foster, Dr. Elders and Justice Thomas.
Thank you for your continued consideration of my nomination.
Sincerely, Brian J. Davis.
Nomination of John Koskinen Mr. HATCH. Madam President, I wish to speak on the nomination of John Koskinen to be the next Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.