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Weekly Column: First Term On Judiciary Committee--Record Number Of Judges Confirmed

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

With the end of the 115th Congress, I will wrap up my first term serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  It has been a memorable, remarkable and historic experience.  We have no doubt addressed some very difficult issues that have weighed heavily on the minds of committee members and all Americans, as we have considered judicial nominations and other duties of the committee.  The 115th Congress and this Administration have made significant progress in advancing a court system that preserves our constitutional rights and provides fair justice. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is tasked with considering judicial nominations, including nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court, appellate courts and district courts.  In two years, we have approved two Supreme Court Justices.  In April of 2017, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  In October of this year, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as an Associate Justice. 

We have confirmed a record 29 circuit court judges and 53 district court judges.  These confirmations include the October 11 Senate confirmation of Judge Ryan Nelson of Idaho Falls to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Judge Nelson has been widely recognized by his colleagues for his judgement and legal expertise and will serve our nation well on the Ninth Circuit.  Also in October, I had the opportunity to chair a Senate Judiciary hearing to consider a slate of judicial nominees, including two selected to serve as judges on the Ninth Circuit.  I look forward to further helping to ensure this influential court has a full bench of judges who can ensure that timely justice is served. 

The judicial confirmations advanced by the committee also include the confirmation of Judge David Nye, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Idaho by a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 100-0.  His 2017 confirmation was the very first district judge approved by the 115th Congress.  He has extensive legal experience, including as judge for Idaho’s Sixth Judicial District and in private practice litigation. 

Throughout the consideration of judicial nominations, I have maintained that judges must adhere to the rule of law and not enable judicial activism to prejudice rulings.  This basic principle is essential to ensuring the protection of our rights as Americans. 

In addition to carrying out its role of considering judicial nominations, the Judiciary Committee has held many hearings to provide oversight and advance legislation relating to important issues affecting our country.  In June, I chaired a hearing to consider S. 197, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments of 2017, legislation I introduced that would extend federal assistance to Idahoans for cancer caused by radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s.  The committee also considers the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.  At a hearing in March, I had the opportunity to discuss the success of consolidated services in Idaho enabling victims to access a range of needed services under one roof.  The committee also held hearings to address the opioid crisis; enforcement of antitrust laws; threats to religious liberty; cyber threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure; immigration policy; patents and trademarks; and much more. 

The committee has more work ahead to consider nominations, provide oversight of numerous federal departments and advance needed legislative changes.  I will continue to support nominees who carry out their judicial responsibility within the limits of the law, and work to ensure that the role of government is properly restrained while protecting individual rights and access to justice. 

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