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Patrick L.
Democrat VT

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  • Executive Session—Continued

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2014-01-13

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    LEAHY. Mr. President, tonight we will vote on the nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Late last week, we were finally able to invoke cloture on his nomination, after it was unjustifiably filibustered by Senate Republicans for months.



    Judge Wilkins was nominated to serve on this court last June, along with two other exceptional nominees who were both confirmed late last year, Judge Patricia Millett and Judge Nina Pillard. Once Judge Wilkins is confirmed, the DC Circuit, which is often considered to be the second most important court in the Nation, will finally be operating at full strength. The American people deserve no less.

    Judge Wilkins is an outstanding nominee. He was unanimously confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia 3 years ago. He has presided over hundreds of cases and issued significant decisions in various areas of the law, including in the fields of administrative and constitutional law. Prior to serving on the bench, he was a partner for nearly 10 years in private practice and served more than 10 years as a public defender in the District of Columbia.

    During his time at the Public Defender Service, Judge Wilkins served as the lead plaintiff in a racial profiling case, which arose out of an incident in which he and three family members were stopped and detained while returning from a funeral in Chicago. This lawsuit led to landmark settlements that required systematic statewide compilation and publication of highway traffic stop-and-search data by race. These settlements inspired an Executive Order by President Clinton, legislation in the House and Senate, and legislation in at least 28 States prohibiting racial profiling or requiring data collection.

    Despite the progress made in the past several decades, the struggle to diversify our Federal bench continues. When confirmed, Judge Wilkins will be only the sixth African American to have ever served on the DC Circuit.

    Judge Wilkins earned the ABA's highest possible rating of unanimously ``well qualified.'' He also has the support of the National Bar Association, the Nation's largest professional association of African American lawyers and judges, as well as several other prominent legal organizations. I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a list of letters in support of Judge Wilkins.

    I hope my fellow Senators will join me today to confirm this good man to serve on this important court. Our Nation will be better off with Judge Robert Wilkins serving on the DC Circuit.

    There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: Letters in Support of the Nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins 1. July 31, 2013--Diverse group of 97 organizations in support of Judge Wilkins. The organizations include National Bar Association, National Conference of Women's Bar Associations, Hispanic National Bar Association, American Association for Justice, National Association of Consumer Advocates, NAACP, and National Employment Lawyers Association.

    2. August 28, 2013--Joseph C. Akers, Jr., Interim Executive Director, on behalf of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) 3. September 10, 2013--Benjamin F. Wilson, Managing Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. and John E. Page, SVP, Chief Legal Officer, Golden State Foods Corp. and Immediate Past President, National Bar Association on behalf of an ``ad hoc group of African American AmLaw 100 Managing Partners and Fortune 1000 General Counsel'' 4. September 10, 2013--Nancy Duff Campbell and Marcia D. Greenberger, co-Presidents, on behalf of the National Women's Law Center 5. September 10, 2013--Doreen Hartwell, President, Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association 6. September 18, 2013--William Martin, Washington Bar Association 7. September 27, 2013--Douglas Kendall, President, and Judith Schaeffer, Vice President, Constitutional Accountability Center 8. October 1, 2013--National Bar Association 9. October 1, 2013--Michael Madigan, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP 10. September 10, 2013 and October 2, 2013--Wade Henderson, President & CEO and Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President on behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

    Mr. JOHANNS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the nomination of Robert Leon Wilkins of the District of Columbia to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit? Mr. JOHANNS. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second? There is a sufficient second.

    The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk called the roll.

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