Durbin Questions Judicial Nominees In Today's Judiciary Committee Nominations 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 Mary Kathleen Costello, nominated to be U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Laura Margarete Provinzino, nominated to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Minnesota; and Noël Wise, nominated to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California.

Durbin first asked Judge Wise about her published writings, including those focused on the judiciary system.

“You [Judge Wise] are a prolific author…  You have a body of work when it comes to expressing yourself on so many issues.  The obvious question from your critics is, ‘we know who she is and what she’ll do on the bench…’  How would you answer that, at the outset, in terms of your role as a judge and role as a citizen?” Durbin asked. 

Judge Wise emphasized that, if confirmed, she intends to rule, as she has for the last 10 years on the state bench, by following the letter of the law without consideration for her personal beliefs.  She underscored the importance of a fair and transparent process. 

“Your obvious responsibility on the District Court is to follow precedent.  What if that precedent violates some of your basic core beliefs politically?” Durbin asked.

Stressing her ability to be a fair and impartial judge, Judge Wise pointed to her record of issuing more than 10,000 opinions, many of which did not align with her personal beliefs.

Durbin then asked Ms. Provinzino the same question on how she adheres to precedent rather than personal beliefs while issuing a ruling.

Ms. Provinzino replied that she has been able to put aside her personal beliefs in her career, including while serving as a prosecutor and as a civil litigator.  She noted that she fairly applies the law to the facts of each case and abides by precedent.

Durbin concluded his time by asking the same question of Ms. Costello.

Ms. Costello said that she is “duty-bound to follow precedent,” and that her personal opinions would have no role in her decision making if confirmed.

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 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 202 judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench during the Biden administration. Following the confirmation of Nancy Maldonado to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, nine lifetime judges – including two circuit court nominees and seven district court nominees – are eligible for a vote on the Senate floor.