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Charles S.
Democrat NY

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  • Nomination of Katherine Polk Failla to Be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York

    by Senator Charles E. Schumer

    Posted on 2013-03-04

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    Read More about Nomination of Katherine Polk Failla to Be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York

    SCHUMER. Reserving the right to object, I have some remarks I would like to make before 5:30.



    I do not object.

    Mr. SESSIONS. I will try to not utilize the 30 seconds the Senator used in agreeing to this. But I would point out there are other different complaints that we have about the circumstances of this nomination. I do think it is an extraordinary circumstance. I take that decision seriously. There have not been many that I found that to have occurred.

    Therefore, I will oppose the motion for cloture and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New York.

    Mr. SCHUMER. I thank my colleague from Alabama for taking only 30 seconds because of the 30 seconds I took to explain to him. I have three parts to my little statement. I will speak briefly on each.

    First, I rise in support of the nominations of Katherine Failla for the Southern District of New York and Pam Chen for the Eastern District. I have enthusiastic support for both of them. They are superb nominees to the Federal bench. Let me talk a little bit about each.

    Similar to many proud New Yorkers, Chen was not born in New York City. But she is now a valid and valuable member, not just of the New York Bar but of our entire community. Chen was born in Chicago after her parents came here from China. She came by her zeal for public service honestly because her father worked for the IRS for over 30 years, while her mother was a professor of political science.

    When I first met Chen, I do not think it took more than 5 minutes before she talked about how proud she was of her parents, how grateful for the sacrifices they made so she and her brother could excel in later life.

    She graduated from the University of Michigan and then Georgetown Law Center. As a young lawyer, she began as a litigator in private practice, and then began her illustrious career in public service by joining the Special Litigation Section of DOJ's Civil Rights Division.

    Fortunately for the people of New York, she came to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York--which serves principally Brooklyn and Long Island--in 1998, and has been there ever since.

    At one of the premier U.S. Attorney's offices in the Nation, she rose to be chief of the civil rights litigation unit and later the civil rights section in that office.

    She has prosecuted all manner of public corruption, gang, narcotics, and terrorism cases.

    She is one of those highly intelligent, analytical individuals who was probably born to be a lawyer, and, once a lawyer, was almost certainly destined to be a judge.

    Born in Edison, NJ, she earned her B.A. from William & Mary, and her law degree from Harvard. After clerking for the Federal court in New Jersey, she practiced in New York City with the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and 6 years later joined the U.S. Attorney's office.

    She has now served as a prosecutor for 12 years. In her work as head of the criminal appeals section, she defends some of the most important criminal convictions in the Nation, including terrorism cases such as the East African bombing case against bin Laden and his associates, complex white-collar cases, and RICO cases.

    Her colleagues report to a person that her advice on legal arguments and matters of judgment is the most sought after in the whole * * * Everyone attests to the fact she is fair, decent, honest, and very smart. I wish to finally add that I look for three qualifications in a nominee: excellence, she clearly has that; moderation, she has that; and all else being present, diversity. Chen will be only the second female Chinese-American article III judge in U.S. history, making this day yet another step forward in our path to making the Judiciary reflect both the talent and depth of experience of our communities.

    Katherine Failla is currently U.S. attorney in charge of the important and [[Page S1082]] prestigious Criminal Appeals Unit in the Southern District of New York. She is one of those highly intelligent, analytical individuals who was probably born to be a lawyer, and once a lawyer, was almost destined to be a judge.

    She has served as a prosecutor for 12 years. Her colleagues report to a person that her advice on legal arguments and matters of judgment is the most sought after in the whole office. This is the Southern District of New York. It is an amazing office.

    She also came to her dedication to public service through a hard- working family. This is evident through her siblings as well, a school teacher's aide and a submarine commander.

    I ask that my colleagues vote for both of them shortly.

    Halligan Nomination I also wish to say a few words this evening about the President's longest standing nominee to any office, Caitlin Joan Halligan. The DC Circuit is currently one-third vacant; 4 of the 11 slots are without active judges. What some people call the second most important court in the country is firing only on two-thirds of its cylinders. Halligan is one of the President's nominees for two of these four slots. Her nomination has been pending for 23 months.

    Since her name has been sent to the Senate, she has not had an up-or- down vote. She has never had an up-or-down vote despite the fact that her academic and professional credentials are superb: Princeton University, GW Law School, prestigious clerkships on the DC Circuit, including Patricia Wald, the first female member of the court, and then to Justice Steven Breyer.

    She has never had an up-or-down vote despite the fact that she has spent most of her career in public service as a prosecutor, first with the Office of the New York Attorney General, now as assistant district attorney who serves as the general counsel for the Manhattan DA's office.

    She has never had an up-or-down vote despite the fact that she would be only the sixth woman to serve on the court since its inception in 1801. Two years ago, when her nomination was filibustered, many of my colleagues cited the DC Circuit's relatively low caseload for the reason the Senate did not need to confirm another judge. But now, 2 years later, there are only seven judges hearing cases on the court. The caseload for judges has risen 21 percent since President Bush made his last nomination to the court in 2006.

    My colleagues know how difficult and time-consuming these cases are. I have great respect for my friend and colleague and the person I exercise with in the gym every morning, Jeff Sessions. But to say this is an extraordinary circumstance based on the smidgen of evidence he has mentioned--please, please, please.

    Let's hope there is not a concerted effort by the other side to keep this important DC circuit empty--unfilled. It is unfair and it is not right to this fine women and to the need to proceed with justice in these United States of America.

    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.

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