4/04/2011 — 

Mr. President, I wish to thank all my colleagues, particularly those who supported this motion to invoke cloture. Everyone brought to this floor very vigorous arguments and very clear positions.

   I think what has been confirmed today is not just moving forward on the confirmation of one judge but reaffirming a practice in the Senate that if the home State Senators submit a District Court nominee who is then put forth by the President, and if that person--that man or woman--receives the appropriate evaluation by the bar association, the appropriate vetting by the FBI, the appropriate scrutiny of the committee, and then the vote of the committee is to bring that District Court nominee to the floor, that we will move to an up-or-down vote on the merits of the individual District Court nominee.

   There were extraordinary individuals engaged in this discussion, and they may view--in fact, I think they do view--the merits quite differently than I. But what they had firmly in mind was not just this moment but the Senate as an institution going forward. I particularly wish to commend Senator Alexander, Senator Graham, Senator Collins, Senator Brown of Massachusetts, Senator Murkowski, Senator McCain, Senator Snowe, Senator Thune, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Senator Johnny Isakson, and Senator Kirk, as well as all my other colleagues who joined.

   This vote, I think, to many of my colleagues, was less about an individual and more about whether the Senate would conduct its business in a time-honored tradition with respect to District Court nominees; whether the viewpoints not just of individual Senators from a particular State but the community of that State--the business leaders, the civic leaders, the members of the bar--whether their views and their evaluation would be weighed successfully.

   I thank everyone for the opportunity to move forward on this nomination. Again, I appreciate and respect the principled debate and thoughtful debate of those who took a different position. But I think today is not just a case of an individual nomination; I hope it sets the standard going forward--again, a standard that we as Democrats must respect. If a person is nominated to be a District Court judge, if that person passes through the close scrutiny of the bar association, of the FBI, of the Judiciary Committee, and comes to the floor, that District Court nominee deserves an up-or-down vote. That is something we all have to expect. It cannot be a device of convenience for the moment; it has to be a practice of this institution. I think today we went a long way to institutionalize that.