Durbin Questions District Court Nominees In Latest Judiciary Committee Nominations Hearing

WASHINGTON – During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, questioned Adam Abelson, nominated to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Maryland; Joseph Saporito Jr., nominated to be U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; and Meredith Vacca, nominated to be U.S. District Judge for the Western District of New York.

Before questioning the second panel of nominees, Durbin first praised Judge Kidd for his record.

“Judge Kidd, you bring one of the most lengthy records I can recall - 13,700 decisions.  Amazing.  Reversed nine times out of 13,700.  That’s quite a record.  The American Bar Association asked lawyers and professionals in your community of what they thought of your performance as a judge.  Let me read what they said. ‘The standing committee of the American Bar Association has the unanimous opinion that Magistrate Judge Kidd is well-qualified to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit,’” Durbin said to Judge Kidd. 

Durbin then asked Judge Abelson about his time working with the American Bar Association (ABA) on building public trust in the judicial system.

“Let me start… with noting the fact that you were chair of the ABA Working Group on Building Public Trust in the American Justice [System]… It seems to me, in my legal, political lifetime, that the two most significant changes in law enforcement that I can think of were DNA evidence and videotaping of the scene.  It has changed the national conversation on culpability… You did some research in this area as part of the working group.  Would you like to comment on that?” Durbin asked.

Judge Abelson replied that during his time on the working group, they researched law enforcement and the judicial community’s viewpoints on police body cameras and considered what policies would need to be implemented if law enforcement agencies were to use body cameras.

Next, Durbin questioned Judge Saporito about his 29 years working in private practice.  “You had to make decisions on a daily basis on if you would accept a client or not.  What were your standards?...What about the issue of popularity or public acceptance when choosing a client?” Durbin asked.

Judge Saporito spoke about the standards set by his father, who was also a lawyer, noting that he aimed to help those most in need of legal representation regardless of their financial status or the public profile of the case.

Durbin concluded his questioning by asking Judge Vacca about her extensive experience as a prosecutor. 

“Can a criminal defendant feel like they’re going to get a fair treatment from you as a judge?” Durbin asked.

Judge Vacca affirmed that she would serve as an impartial district judge if confirmed, giving fair consideration for each side of a case.  She noted that she rules based on the letter of the law rather than bias.

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 and executive 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 201 judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench during the Biden administration.  Ten lifetime judges – including three circuit court nominees and seven district court nominees – are eligible for a vote on the Senate floor.