President George Washington and our founders established the framework of a judiciary system that consisted of three courts – district, circuit, and Supreme. They sought to carry out a uniquely American creed to “establish justice,” which was written into the Constitution only a few years earlier.
Our founders understood the weight of this responsibility. The judges occupying these seats would be the final arbiters of truth and justice. Judges are the guardians of the law and the protectors of democratic rights in our civil society.
The founders knew that those on the bench would play a pivotal role in the lives of American citizens. This is why judicial appointment is one of the most consequential responsibilities of the presidency. In this, the Senate carries a solemn duty to provide advice and consent with regard to the judges that the president puts forward.
Thankfully, President Trump and his administration understand the qualities the American people seek in a judge: a keen intellect, a clear record of applying the laws as written, and an unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law equitably. The president has nominated many highly accomplished jurists with these characteristics, and the Senate has confirmed them at a record pace. During this Congress, the Senate has confirmed 21 judges to our nation’s circuit courts. Because of the Senate’s hard work and strong, experienced appointments vetted by the White House, one in eight circuit court judges in America today is a Trump appointee.
These well-qualified judges will protect our constitutional rights, preserve our liberty, and safeguard the values we Nebraskans hold so dear. They are victories for our state and for our country.
One of these victories includes Nebraska’s own, Judge Steve Grasz. Steve grew up working on his family farm in the Nebraska Panhandle. His experiences early on in life laid the groundwork for his future. Steve harnessed his work ethic to succeed in the classroom and later developed a prominent legal career in appellate law. Steve gave 12 years of dedicated service to the State of Nebraska, serving as its Chief Deputy Attorney General.
President Donald Trump accepted my recommendation and nominated Steve for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The president recognized, as Nebraskans on both sides of the aisle did, Steve’s valuable attributes as a jurist. Late last year, the Senate approved Steve’s nomination and he is now installed on the bench of the Eighth Circuit.
I have been proud to support a number of female trailblazers that now serve on the appellate bench. Judge Amy Coney Barrett was a former law clerk to the great Justice Scalia, and taught constitutional law at the University of Notre Dame. Through her confirmation process, she faced appalling questions about her impartiality to the law because of her Catholic faith. But she was resilient, and the Senate confirmed her nomination to become the first woman to hold a Seventh Circuit seat in Indiana.
Further, the Senate confirmed Judge Allison Eid. Like Judge Barrett, she made history by becoming the first female judge to serve on the Tenth Circuit in Colorado. I also took pride in voting for Judge Joan Larsen, who was a former Supreme Court Justice in Michigan and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Finally, I voted for Judge Lisa Branch, who served on the Court of Appeals in Georgia and was confirmed by the Senate, to add to this impressive record of judicial nominees.
We still have much work left ahead of us. The Senate will soon consider many more esteemed judicial nominees who seek to join this impressive list. I take great honor in carrying out my constitutional duty as a U.S. Senator to closely examine the record of every nominee.
Ensuring that justice is carried out for all Americans depends largely on the vitality of our judicial system, and those whom we appoint to interpret and uphold our laws. In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with President Trump, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, and my Senate colleagues to confirm more qualified nominees and continue adding to this historic record.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.