Durbin Questions District Court Nominees At Latest Judiciary Committee Nominations Hearing
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Loren AliKhan, nominated to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia; Susan DeClercq, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan; Julia Munley, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; and Vernon Oliver, nominated to be United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut; at the latest Senate Judiciary Committee nominations hearing.
Durbin began by noting the immigration stories of two of today’s nominees: Loren AliKhan, nominated to be United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, and Susan DeClercq, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.
“Immigration is what made America. My mother was an immigrant to this country and I serve as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Durbin said. “Hearing the stories of Judge AliKhan—what your parents and others in your family went through coming to the United States, I’m sure a treacherous journey in many ways, but the determination to come here and succeed and the pride they take in seeing the next generation become leaders in our nation.”
Durbin continued, “Ms. DeClercq, what an amazing story. To be abandoned as a child and then to be part of a family and adoption that made the difference in your life and brought you to this moment in history. There’s a lot of things said about immigration by politicians these days. But I hope that we will have some honest reflection by all of us of the fact that immigration has made America what it is today, as far as I’m concerned.”
Durbin then asked Judge Munley about her experience representing an emergency responder who was exposed to toxins and debris while working at Ground Zero after the attack at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
“In private practice, you represented an emergency responder who was exposed to toxins and debris while working at Ground Zero and the disaster site at the World Trade Center after 9/11. You ultimately helped him recover an award from the 9/11 Victim Compensation fund to compensate him for the health issues that he faced,” Durbin said. “Could you tell us a little bit about that experience and what it meant to you?”
Judge Munley responded that “it was an honor to represent that individual and to do that pro bono work.” She noted that if she is confirmed, “this would be a continuation of my life’s commitment to public service and upholding the rule of law.”
Durbin then asked Judge AliKhan about her background as a Solicitor General and Deputy Solicitor General, as well as the bipartisan support for her nomination from current and former state Solicitors General across the country.
“I noticed that there is somewhat of a fraternity and sorority of Solicitors General across the country and many of them have written in support of your nomination, even those of the opposite political party,” Durbin said. “What is it, you believe, that guided you in that pursuit?”
Judge AliKhan noted that she was fortunate to work with an incredible group of Solicitors General across the country and that “what united us was greater than what divided us.” She also noted that when they were on opposite sides of the litigation, they “litigated with good faith and good humor.”
Finally, Durbin asked Judge Oliver about the impressive amount of time he has spent in the courtroom. As an Assistant State’s Attorney, Judge Oliver tried 22 criminal trials. And as an Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection Unit, he represented the Connecticut Department of Children and Families in dozens of child abuse, neglect, and termination of parental rights matters.
“I read here that [as a state court judge], you’ve presided over approximately 320 cases that have gone to verdict or judgment. So you’ve seen your fair share of trials,” Durbin said. “Can you comment on that experience?”
Judge Oliver responded that, “the right to jury trial, whether civil or criminal, is really at the foundation of our justice system.” He added that, if confirmed, he would look forward to continuing to preside over jury cases.
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 for TV Stations.
Today’s hearing continues the Committee’s work filling judicial vacancies with highly qualified, diverse candidates who help ensure the fair and impartial administration of the American justice system. Under the leadership of Chair Durbin, the Senate has confirmed 130 judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench during the Biden administration.
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