Durbin Questions District Court Nominees And Director Of Violence Against Women Office Nominee In Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee nominations hearing, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Andrew G. Schopler, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of California; P. Casey Pitts, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of California; Gordon P. Gallagher, to be United States District Judge for the District of Colorado; and Arun Subramanian, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. Durbin first questioned Judge Schopler about his experience as a Major in the United States Army, California National Guard.  

“Judge Schopler, why did you decide to join the National Guard?” Durbin asked. 

Judge Schopler replied that he has a commitment to public service, and serving his country was “one of the greatest honors” of his life. Judge Schopler deployed to Afghanistan for eight months in 2018 and for the past six years, Judge Schopler has served as a Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of California. In that time, he has presided over five misdemeanor criminal trials. None of his decisions have been overturned on appeal.

Durbin shifted his questions by asking Judge Pitts about his experience representing professional sports labor organizations, including the National Football League Players Association, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the National Basketball Players Association, and the Major League Soccer Players Union.

“Mr. Pitts, you were involved with an issue that is very interesting to this committee…addressing the issue of ‘name, image, and likeness,’ and compensation for that. Can you tell us about how you got involved in that?” Durbin asked. 

Mr. Pitts’ cases challenged video game makers and whether they were “entitled to exploit the likeness of college athletes as a First Amendment matter to increase the sale of their games, or whether they had an obligation to pay the athletes for use of their ‘name, images and likeness.’” They filed amicus briefs arguing the video game makers were required to compensate college athletes for use of their ‘‘name, image, and likeness,” and from his ruling, that was the position the Third Circuit and Ninth Circuit adopted. 

Durbin then asked Judge Gallagher about his role in supervising the District of Colorado’s pro se intake division, which “is comprised of eight permanent law clerks across six positions who review allpro se prisoner cases and all pro se in forma pauperis (IFP) actions for non-prisoners.” Judge Gallagher said Colorado’s pro se intake division is an “efficient way of determining whether cases need to move forward and have judicial attention…or whether they are cases that are frivolous or for other reasons shouldn’t move forward.” During the pandemic, Judge Gallagher was responsible for significant changes to the review process in order to address the urgent and essentially injunctive nature of prisoner requests in COVID-19-related actions.

Durbin concluded by asking Judge Subramanian about his extensive litigation experience.

“You’ve run the table on clerkships. I think you’ve been at every level of the federal courts, and you’ve observed a lot of judges all the way up to the Supreme Court with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. What have you learned in your exposure to all of these judges?” Durbin asked. 

Judge Subramanian replied that the best judges treat every case, no matter how mundane, as the most important because “they are the most important to the litigants in those cases, and to be open minded, and work hard.” He stated that these are the values all of the judges he worked for instilled.

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

After his questions, Durbin spoke about the nomination of Rosemarie Hidalgo, nominated to be Director of the Violence Against Women Office.

Durbin concluded, “The bipartisan support of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, after five years of effort, was one of the major achievements of the last two years of this Committee. I wish you the best in your work and I know filling this vacancy has been waiting for a while, and I’m sure you will do this job and do it well.”