Durbin Delivers Opening Statement In First Nominations Hearing Of 2022

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nominations of Andre B. Mathis, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit; Jessica G.L. Clarke, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York; Hector Gonzalez, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York; Fred W. Slaughter, to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California; Sharon Bradford Franklin, to be Chairman and Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board; and Beth Ann Williams, to be a Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.


During his opening remarks, Durbin had the honor of specifically introducing Andre Mathis, nominated to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit.  Durbin noted Mr. Mathis’ qualifications and the important professional and demographic diversity he would bring to the Sixth Circuit.  In explaining why the Committee is proceeding today with Mr. Mathis’s hearing, Durbin detailed the “blue slip” process and outlined the consultation between the Tennessee Senators and the White House regarding this nomination.


Key quotes:


“Andre Mathis is a lifelong Tennessean—dedicating his life and career to his state and his community.”


“Mr. Mathis has extensive litigation experience—litigated hundreds of civil cases and defended approximately 150 criminal cases as a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel in his district.”


“He has tried 19 cases to verdict or final judgment.  He has briefed 23 appeals and argued 10.  Reflecting both his abilities and his commitment to Memphis and the State of Tennessee, Mr. Mathis has also devoted countless hours to pro bono legal work and other volunteer causes.”


“From his volunteer work for Memphis Area Legal Services—where he helps survivors of domestic violence obtain protective orders—to his service on the Shelby County Ethics Commission—where he considered ethics complaints lodged against County officials—Mr. Mathis has helped advance the cause of justice and uphold the rule of law.”


“In short, and looking at the totality of his career, Mr. Mathis has shown that he has the experience, temperament, and acumen to serve on the well-respected Sixth Circuit.”


“Given his record and deep roots in Tennessee, it’s not surprising that Mr. Mathis enjoys support from Tennesseans across the political and ideological spectrum.”


“As I have just detailed, Mr. Mathis is highly qualified for the Sixth Circuit. Yet despite his experience, despite all the things I’ve said about his ties to Tennessee and Memphis, and the broad support he enjoys across that state, Mr. Mathis does not have the support of his home-state Senators.”


“Republicans chose to abandon this Senatorial courtesy [blue slips from home state Senators for Circuit Court nominees].  My colleagues across the aisle, I think, would be hard pressed now to demand that Democrats reinstate this practice.  Simply put, there should not be one set of rules for Republican nominees… and a different set for Democratic nominees.”


“It is quite clear that… the Biden White House, they consulted with the two Tennessee Senators—Senators Blackburn and Hagerty—regarding Mr. Mathis’s nomination and the vacancy on the Sixth Circuit.  The White House had multiple communications with the Tennessee Senators’ offices and even considered and interviewed the one person that they suggested and recommended for the vacancy.  Moreover, the White House made Mr. Mathis available to meet with the Tennessee Senators and to be interviewed by their staff, which he was.”


“Senators Blackburn and Hagerty may have preferred a different individual for the Sixth Circuit. But the White House consulted with them and Mr. Mathis… is undeniably qualified for this position.  Consistent with the precedent set by the previous two Committee Chairs, we will proceed today with a hearing on his nomination.”


Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.