06.22.22

Durbin Questions Judicial Nominees 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 Rachel Bloomekatz, nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit, and Florence Y. Pan, nominee to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit. Durbin centered his questions on Bloomekatz’s and Pan’s support from conservative organizations and leaders as a nominee chosen by the Biden Administration.

“Ms. Bloomekatz, I sit here in surprise as Senator Sherrod Brown announced that you had received a letter of support from [several individuals affiliated with] the Federalist Society. It is rare to have that accolade handed down…to a nominee by the Biden Administration... To what do you attribute your bipartisan support?” Durbin asked Bloomekatz.

In her response, Bloomekatz discussed the community surrounding her as an appellate practitioner in Ohio, which emphasizes congeniality and cooperation with her colleagues regardless of their political or professional backgrounds. Bloomekatz noted that, if confirmed, she intends to build a similar rapport with her colleagues on the Sixth Circuit.

Durbin went on to ask Judge Pan, “I’d like to focus on one other aspect of your background that you made reference to – that was your immigration experience, first-generation American. What does this nomination mean to you in that context?”

Judge Pan spoke about her pride in her Asian heritage and shared her admiration for her parents’ work ethic and dedication to her education.

Video of Durbin’s questioning of Bloomekatz and Judge Pan in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questioning of Bloomekatz and Judge Pan in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questioning of Bloomekatz and Judge Pan in Committee is available here.

Durbin then questioned nominees on the hearing’s second panel. He began by asking Ana Reyes, nominee to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia, about her work on asylum cases.

“Ms. Reyes, you do a lot of work in asylum cases. Briefly describe to us what an asylum case is and give us some examples of cases you think have been a test to the justice system in America,” Durbin posed. 

Reyes responded by defining asylees as refugees who will not receive protections from their government for a type of persecution, including for their race, political opinion, or religion. Reyes delivered a brief overview of her asylum cases and highlighted a case in which she supported young women in escaping Boko Haram by securing them humanitarian parole, and eventually asylum, in the U.S. Following additional questions from Durbin regarding asylum for those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Reyes spoke about her background in handling these specific cases.

Durbin shifted his questions to Elizabeth Wilson Hanes, nominee to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“[Judge] Hanes, I want to ask you about your experience with drug courts in Virginia,” Durbin said.

Hanes, who, as a federal Magistrate Judge presides over the reentry court in the Richmond division of the Eastern District of Virginia, discussed her experience working with probation officers, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, and community members to guide those in the program to maintain sobriety. Hanes shared success stories from the program and emphasized that reentry programs are an asset to the criminal justice system.

Video of Durbin’s questioning of Reyes and Judge Hanes in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questioning of Reyes and Judge Hanes in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questioning of Reyes and Judge Hanes in Committee is available here.

-30-