Judiciary Committee Advances Two Circuit Court Nominees, Three District Court Nominees, One U.S. Attorney

The Committee also advanced the bipartisan Speak Out Act to support victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced the nominations of Dana M. Douglas, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit; Bradley N. Garcia, to be United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit; Frances Kay Behm, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan; Jerry W. Blackwell, to be United States District Judge for the District of Minnesota; and Anne M. Nardacci, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of New York.

Douglas received a vote of 16-6; Garcia received a vote of 12-10; Behm received a vote of 12-10; Blackwell received a vote of 13-8-1; and Nardacci received a vote of 14-8.

The Committee also advanced Kevin G. Ritz, to be United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, by voice vote.

Ahead of votes, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke to the qualifications of one of today’s circuit court nominees.

Key Durbin quotes:

“Mr. Garcia [is an] accomplished litigator [who has an] impressive record of appellate advocacy in the Supreme Court and in state and federal courts.”

“Notably, before starting his career as a practicing lawyer, Mr. Garcia clerked for judges appointed by Presidents of both parties—Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee to the D.C. Circuit, and Justice Elena Kagan, an Obama appointee to the Supreme Court. He left a favorable impression at every stop. In a strong letter of support to the Committee, Judge Griffith wrote: ‘Brad knew that I am a judicial conservative, and he played well his role of helping me be that type of judge regardless of his views. Brad’s integrity in this regard coupled with his brilliance gave me complete confidence in his work.’”

“Mr. Garcia has an impressive breadth and depth of experience. It’s not surprising that he received a ‘Well Qualified’ rating from the ABA. He’ll make an outstanding judge on the D.C. Circuit and I am proud to support him.”

Durbin also spoke to today’s bipartisan bill, the Speak Out Act, which will enable workers to report workplace sexual assault and harassment even if they signed a predispute nondisclosure agreement (NDA). The bill advanced by unanimous voice vote.

Key Durbin quotes:

“This bill is part of an effort by this Committee which I think will have historic significance… I think it is going to revolutionize this whole world—and, even more importantly, move people toward better conduct because there’s going to be true accountability.”

“I want to thank the survivors who have come forward to demand action, including Gretchen Carlson… to address the injustice of NDAs in the sexual assault and sexual harassment context, along with the limitations on forced arbitration signed into law earlier this year. We are breaking the culture of silence.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.