Executive Sessionby Senator Chuck Grassley
Posted on 2013-03-11
GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I rise today in support of Richard Gary
Taranto, nominated to be U.S. circuit judge for the Federal Circuit.
Mr. Taranto's nomination was pending before the Senate last year. In
accordance with Senate custom and practice, the nomination was placed
on hold, along with other circuit Judge nominations, pending the
outcome of the 2012 Presidential election.
I also support the nomination of Andrew Patrick Gordon to be U.S. district judge for the District of Nevada. Mr. Gordon was nominated late last year, with his hearing held in December.
Despite our continued cooperation with the President and Senate Democrats, we continue to hear unfounded criticism.
For example, recently the White House posted on its Web site a statement ``The rising number of judicial vacancies is a direct result of unprecedented delays in the Senate confirmation process.'' The graphic went on to suggest that the President's nominees have to wait longer for confirmation than nominees of previous Presidents. It cites statistics that the President's nominees have to wait longer than nominees in prior administrations for floor consideration after being reported out of committee. There is no mention that in previous administrations there was a much longer wait for committee consideration. The end result, from nomination to confirmation, is about the same for Obama nominees as it was for nominees submitted by George W. Bush. There is no credible basis for alleging ``unprecedented delays.'' President Obama is quoted as saying: ``A minority of Senators has systematically and irresponsibly used procedural maneuvers to block or delay confirmation votes on judicial nominees.'' Of course, President Obama, as Senator, supported the filibuster of the nomination of Samuel Alito, nominated to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
A few Senate Democrats have joined this chorus, claiming that the recent vote on the Halligan nomination was a violation of a Senate understanding or ``deal'' negotiated in 2005 by the so-called Gang of 14.
Unfortunately, some of those Senators have no understanding of what happened with Bush nominees, leading to that limited agreement. I am not going to recite that history here, but the record is there for those who are interested in the truth.
It is a stretch to say that the Gang of 14 is any kind of Senate policy, informal or otherwise. It was an agreement among a few Members of that Congress. Most Senators who were part of that agreement no longer serve in the Senate. Senators who did sign the agreement, on both sides, subsequently voted against cloture on nominees--indicating that the agreement was never regarded as limiting the Senate on cloture votes. It is clear that agreement was limited to a small group, for a particular point in time.
The allegation of a systematic and irresponsible use of procedural maneuvers to block or delay nominations is unfounded. Senate Republicans have sparingly used Senate rules. Only two nominees have been defeated by a filibuster. Compare that to the multiple filibusters on nominees of President Bush. Ten nominees were blocked by filibusters, with five ultimately being defeated.
The fact is, in his first term, President Obama had the highest percentage of circuit confirmations over the past four Presidential terms. With regard to district confirmations, President Obama had more during the 112th Congress that in any of the previous eight Congresses, going back to 1994. So those who say that this President is being treated differently either fail to recognize history or want to ignore the facts or both.
A second prong of this debate concerns the vacancy rate in the Federal judiciary. Blaming judicial vacancies on the Senate confirmation process is unfounded and a distortion of the process. The growth in vacancies is the result of a failure in the White House to send nominations to the Senate. Presently, 55 of the 87 vacancies--63 percent--have no nominee. For the 30 vacancies categorized as ``judicial emergencies,'' only 9 have a nominee. This has been a pattern through most of the Obama Presidency.
Senators who suggest that Republican Senators are blocking all four vacancies on the DC Circuit should understand that two of those vacancies have no nominee. A Senator who suggests as a strategy to ``put before the Senate all four and expose what is happening'' must first talk to the White House about the lack of nominees.
With regard to today's nominations, I would like to say a few words about the nominees. I expect they will be approved, and congratulate each on his confirmation.
Richard Gary Taranto is nominated to be U.S. circuit judge for the Federal Circuit. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1981, Mr. Taranto held several judicial clerkships. First, he served as a law clerk for Judge Abraham Sofaer on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. From 1982 to 1983, he clerked for Judge Robert Bork on the DC Circuit. Finally, he clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor from 1983 to 1984.
After completing his clerkship with Justice O'Connor, Mr. Taranto worked as an associate with Onek, Klein & Farr. He also served for a few months in the spring of 1986 as a legal consultant to the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on South Africa.
Beginning in the summer of 1986, he joined the U.S. Department of Justice Solicitor General's Office serving as an assistant to the Solicitor General. In 1989, he returned to the private sector as a partner in his old firm of Onek, Klein, & Farr, which soon after became Farr & Taranto. From 1989 to the late 1990s, his practice was heavily focused on the Supreme Court. He wrote briefs [[Page S1283]] and argued cases on a wide variety of topics, including constitutional law, bankruptcy, patent, trademark, Federal procedure, antitrust, and copyright issues.
In 1997, the focus of his practice shifted to handling patent appeals before the Federal Circuit. Before the Federal Circuit, he has represented patent holders and patent defendants across a variety of technology areas. He has experience with cases concerning international trade, government contracts, and money claims against the United States, all within the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit.
Mr. Taranto has argued 19 cases in the Supreme Court; 8 while in the Solicitor General's Office and 11 cases in private practice. He has also presented approximately 20 arguments in the Federal Circuit and appeared on briefs in a few others. He has also argued cases before the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and DC Circuits. The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave him a unanimous well qualified rating.
Andrew Patrick Gordon is nominated to be U.S. district judge for the District of Nevada. Mr. Gordon received a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College in 1984, graduating cum laude. In 1987, Gordon graduated from Harvard Law School. Upon graduation, he joined Streich, Lang, Weeks, and Cardon in Phoenix, AZ. In 1992, he moved to Las Vegas, NV, where he assisted Streich Lang to expand into the Las Vegas market through an affiliate of the firm, Dawson and Associates. In 1994, he lateraled to McDonald Carano Wilson LLP, working as an associate until 1997, when he became a partner. He remains with McDonald Carano Wilson to this day.
Mr. Gordon's law experience is mostly in civil litigation in the areas of business, real property, construction, and employment. From 1997 to 2004, his practice centered on litigation arising from commercial construction projects. Over the last 10 years, he has become more active in arbitration and mediation. Additionally, Mr. Gordon has sat on numerous committees of the Nevada State Bar, the U.S. District Court of Nevada, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He has tried at least nine cases to final judgment. The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave him a rating of substantial majority well qualified--minority qualified.