Executive Sessionby Senator Patrick J. Leahy
Posted on 2013-12-10
LEAHY. Mr. President, today, the Senate will finally have the
opportunity to vote on the confirmation of Patricia Millett to the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Over the course of her 25-year
legal career, Ms. Millett has risen through the ranks of government and
private practice to earn a place among the best appellate practitioners
in the country. She has argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court. She
worked in the Justice Department under both Republican and Democratic
administrations. She is unquestionably qualified and deserves to be
confirmed without further delay so she can get to work for the American
Patricia Millett's career mirrors that of the last DC Circuit judge to occupy the very seat to which she is nominated--that of John Roberts, Jr. I voted for his confirmation to both the DC Circuit and later to the Supreme Court. I knew at the time of those votes that I would not agree with every decision he would make on the bench, but I voted for him because of his temperament and his excellent reputation as a lawyer. John Roberts was confirmed unanimously to the DC Circuit on the day the Judiciary Committee completed consideration of his nomination and reported it to the Senate--at a time when the caseload of the DC Circuit by any measure was lower than it is today. If only Senate Republicans had been willing to apply the same standard for Ms. Millett. Instead, they decided to filibuster her nomination even though they had promised to only filibuster nominations under ``extraordinary circumstances''. If those Senators had been true to their word, I do not believe we would have reached the tipping point on the use of the filibuster.
By refusing to allow a vote for any existing vacancy on the DC Circuit, Republicans took their determined obstruction to an unprecedented level. As the senior most Senator serving today, I approach changes to the tradition and history of the Senate with great reluctance. I have always believed in the Senate's unique protection of the minority party. I have held to my belief that the best traditions of the Senate would win out; that the 100 of us who stand in the shoes of more than 310 million Americans would do the right thing.
Now that the Senate has changed its precedents to overcome the escalating obstruction of some, I hope reasonable Republicans will join us in restoring the Senate's ability to fulfill its constitutional duties. I hope this will include a vote to confirm Patricia Millett to the DC Circuit.
Ms. Millett is a nominee with unquestionable integrity and character. She has engaged in significant community service and committed herself to pro bono work. She helps the neediest among us, volunteering through her church to prepare meals for the homeless and serving regularly as an overnight monitor at a local shelter.
Through her legal work, Ms. Millett has earned broad bipartisan support. This includes the support of Peter Keisler, Carter Phillips, Kenneth Starr, Theodore Olson, and Paul Clement, and a bipartisan group of 110 appellate practitioners, as well as 37 Deputy Solicitors General and Assistants to the Solicitor General from both Republican and Democratic administrations. She is supported by the national president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Chuck Canterbury, and many others.
Patricia Millett's service to our Nation is not limited to her legal career or her humanitarianism. She is part of our Nation's storied military family, a family that we have called on repeatedly in the past decade. Her husband is a retired Navy reservist, and as a military spouse, Ms. Millett is part of our Nation's military fabric. She understands personally what we ask of our servicemembers and their families. At the height of Patricia Millett's legal career, her husband received orders to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For nearly a year, she balanced Supreme Court arguments and the demands of being a single parent all while reassuring her children that their father would return home safe.
But not only is Ms. Millett committed to her own military family, she has helped to secure employment protections for members of our National Guard and Reserve through her pro bono legal work. In a case decided by the Supreme Court in 2011, Ms. Millett represented an Army Reservist who was fired, in part, because some of his co-workers did not like his military absences. The successful arguments that Ms. Millett helped craft have made it easier for all members of our Reserve and National Guard to protect their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.
Patricia Millett embodies what we ask our military families to do on behalf of their country. Military spouses juggle all the challenges that every American family faces--but often with the added pressure of deployments and extended separations. I want to thank all the military spouses who are in the Senate gallery today and those watching on C- SPAN who have worked tirelessly to support the nomination of ``one of their own''. We should recognize, honor and support our military families not just through words, but through meaningful action. A vote to confirm Patricia Millett is that meaningful action.
Today the Senate finally has the opportunity to vote for the confirmation of Patricia Millett. I urge my fellow Senators to join me in supporting this outstanding nominee.