NOMINATION OF ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK TO BE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 128
(Senate - September 08, 2015)

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[Pages S6455-S6457]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



 NOMINATION OF ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK TO BE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 
                  FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, 
which the clerk will report.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Roseann 
A. Ketchmark, of Missouri, to be United States District Judge for the 
Western District of Missouri.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will now be 30

[[Page S6456]]

minutes of debate equally divided in the usual form.
  The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the time 
during the quorum call be equally divided.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BLUNT. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, today we are going to vote on the 
nomination of Roseann Ketchmark. She has been nominated to be a Federal 
district judge in the Western District of Missouri. Now, this is only 
the sixth judicial nominee that we have voted on since the Senate 
Republicans took over the majority 8 months ago, so less than 1 a 
month. In fact, if we continue at this rate the Republican majority has 
established, the Senate this year will confirm the fewest number of 
judges in more than a half century--resulting in a judicial vacancy 
crisis. I am concerned because the Senate Republican leadership has 
refused to schedule timely confirmation votes for consensus judicial 
nominees which, I think, demonstrates an astounding neglect of the 
needs of our independent third branch, which borders on contempt.
  I am proud to be a lawyer. I have practiced both in the criminal and 
civil bars and served as a prosecutor. I have appeared before many 
different courts. I look at the men and women who have been on our 
courts, and I say: Here is an example of the way the judicial system 
should be--something every country in the world wants to emulate. But 
now, we are treating that third branch almost with contempt--with 
partisan contempt--and that is going to hurt the whole of the Federal 
judiciary.
  When Senate Democrats were in the majority, we worked hard to reduce 
the number of judicial vacancies to just 43--the lowest level since 
this President took office. This was accomplished through the 
unyielding efforts of then-Majority Leader Reid and Senate Democrats, 
who prioritized filling judicial vacancies so that our independent 
judiciary would be sufficiently staffed. Our success in reducing the 
number of judicial vacancies to such a level in 2014 was remarkable, 
given that we had begun the year with over 90 vacancies and the fact 
that Senate Republicans filibustered every single judicial nominee.
  Throughout President Obama's tenure, we have seen Senate Republicans 
consistently prioritize partisan politics over the Senate's 
constitutional duty of advice and consent. Their relentless obstruction 
over the last 6 years has resulted in an unacceptable number of 
vacancies--often hovering close to or exceeding 90. By the end of last 
year, the Senate made progress in reducing judicial vacancies to 43, 
but now we are seeing those gains reversed due to the Republicans' 
refusal to even schedule confirmation votes this year. In the 8 months 
since Republicans have been in the majority, judicial vacancies have 
increased by more than 50 percent. If Republicans keep on this 
dangerous course, we are heading to a judicial vacancy crisis. This is 
made worse by the fact that the number of Federal court vacancies 
deemed to be ``judicial emergencies'' by the non-partisan 
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has increased by 158 percent 
since the beginning of the year. There are now 31 judicial emergency 
vacancies that are affecting communities across the country.
  I am going to show a couple of things. Republicans campaigned last 
year on the promise they would govern responsibly if they won the 
majority, but instead they have created divisive issues that play 
openly to their political base. One needs to look no further than the 
recent show vote to defund critical health services for women.
  I was in Vermont all last month. Everywhere I went--especially rural 
Vermont, where it is so difficult and so essential to get health care 
to women--they are asking: Why do the Republicans want to cut off the 
health care for women in rural parts of our country? Rather than 
spending 2 days in an unnecessary political exercise, the Senate should 
have voted to confirm the many judicial nominees pending on the 
calendar. In fact, rather than pushing bills to strip funding from 
local law enforcement for obeying the rules on immigration enforcement, 
we should be confirming judges to ensure our entire criminal justice 
system works for everyone.
  Let's give one example. The last 2 years of President Bush's tenure 
in office, the Democrats controlled the Senate. By this time, we had 
confirmed 26 of his judges. Now, with exactly the same situation, with 
Republicans controlling, they have only allowed five judges. What we 
did as Democrats for President Bush, we put through five times as many 
judges as Republicans have for President Obama. What you are seeing 
actually is we are going to politicize the Federal courts.
  Supporting and strengthening our Federal judiciary is not a 
Democratic or Republican priority; it is a fundamental and 
constitutional duty of the Senate that we all must share. In fact, the 
Senate Republican leadership's decision to shirk this body's 
constitutional duty of advice is doing the most harm to States with at 
least one Republican Senator. Of the 67 current vacancies that exist, 
48 of them--or more than 70 percent--are in States with at least one 
Republican Senator. Texas, for example, has nine judicial vacancies. 
Seven of those nine are considered judicial emergencies. Incredibly, 
one of those district court positions has been vacant for over 4 years. 
A Fifth Circuit position in Texas has been vacant for more than 3 
years. Pennsylvania and Alabama face similar crises. They have six and 
five current vacancies, respectively. Federal courts in several other 
States are grappling with extended vacancies. They desperately need to 
be filled.
  The length of time that some of these vacancies have remained 
unfilled is staggering. In Texas, none of these vacancies currently 
have nominees because the Texas Senators have been slow in providing 
recommendations to the President. A similar pattern can be seen with 
the Alabama vacancies, where two of the positions have been vacant for 
over 2 years, and another has remained vacant for over 1\1/2\ years.
  In Pennsylvania, there are six current vacancies and five nominees 
pending. Senate Republicans should be trying to move these nominees as 
expeditiously as possible. Of great concern is the treatment of Judge 
Luis Felipe Restrepo, who will fill an emergency vacancy on the U.S. 
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Judge Restrepo was unanimously 
confirmed 2 years ago by the Senate to serve as a district court judge 
in Pennyslvania. I have heard no objection to his nomination, yet it 
took 7 months just to get him a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.
  Judge Restrepo has strong bipartisan support from both Pennsylvania 
Senators, and he was voted out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously 
by voice vote. Once confirmed, Judge Restrepo will become the first 
Hispanic judge from Pennsylvania to serve on this court and only the 
second Hispanic judge ever to serve on the Third Circuit. No Senate 
Democrat opposes a vote on his nomination. Senate Republicans are the 
only thing holding up his nomination. I hope the Republican Senator 
from Pennsylvania will implore his leadership to bring this highly 
qualified nominee up for a vote. The continued delay of Judge Restrepo 
is a poor reflection on this body.
  In the Western District of New York, located in Buffalo, there is not 
a single active Federal district judge, even though it has one of the 
busiest caseloads in the country. And there are more criminal cases 
than in Washington, DC, Boston, Cleveland, and they don't have a single 
active judge because Republicans will not allow a vote, up or down, 
even though they have the majority. If you don't like the judge, you 
vote them down. They will not even allow a vote. I should note that the 
highly qualified nominee to serve in Buffalo was voted unanimously out 
of the Judiciary Committee. They will not allow them to have a vote on 
the Senate floor.
  Look at this, how we brought vacancies down when we controlled the 
Senate, and now look at how they shoot up when the Republicans control 
the Senate. It makes no sense at all. In fact, as

[[Page S6457]]

I said earlier, the Republican-controlled Senate allowed confirmation 
votes on just five judges--one, two, three, four, five. They have taken 
vacations, recesses, long weekends, and leave early--but we don't have 
time to vote on judges, which are normally unanimous votes anyway.
  We are going to vote on the sixth today. Whoop-de-i-ay. Good for us. 
My goodness gracious. It hasn't been this way before. As I said, when I 
was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in the last 2 years of 
President Bush's term, I had put through 26 judges by now. The 
Republicans have only allowed five judges. This kind of partisanship is 
really wrong. In fact, it is on pace to be the lowest in recent 
history.
  President Eisenhower had 47 judges confirmed in his last 2 years in 
office; President Reagan had 85 judges confirmed his last 2 years in 
office; President Clinton had 73 judges confirmed his last 2 years in 
office; and President George W. Bush had 68 judges confirmed his last 2 
years in office. This is a clear double standard that is being applied 
to President Obama's nominees.
  Republicans can provide some real leadership if the majority leader 
would go ahead and allow for a vote on all 14 of the judicial nominees 
pending on the Executive Calendar. All of these nominees have 
bipartisan support and were voted out of the Judiciary Committee by 
voice vote. Five of them would fill judicial emergency vacancies, 
including Judge Restrepo of Pennsylvania. Others would fill judicial 
emergencies in California, New York, and Tennessee. And the five 
nominees to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims have now been pending 
before the full Senate for a year or more.
  Today we are voting on the nomination of Roseann Ketchmark to fill a 
judicial vacancy in the Federal district court in the Western District 
of Missouri. She has spent her entire 25-year legal career as a 
prosecutor on both the State and Federal levels. Since 2001, Ms. 
Ketchmark has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. 
Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri. During her time 
in the U.S. Attorney's Office, Ms. Ketchmark has served in supervisory 
and management capacities as both the First Assistant U.S. Attorney and 
as the Executive Assistant Attorney. She began her legal career as an 
Assistant Prosecutor in Kansas City, MO, at the Jackson County 
Prosecutor's Office, and subsequently joined the Platte County 
Prosecutor's Office in Platte City, MO, as a First Assistant 
Prosecutor. Ms. Ketchmark has the bipartisan support of her two home 
State Senators, Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt. She was voted out 
of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote more than 4 months ago. She 
has a strong background as a criminal prosecutor and I will support her 
nomination.
  The majority leader has spoken recently about his desire to avoid 
another Republican-led government shutdown. I agree, the American 
people deserve something better than obstructionist shutdowns. While 
the focus has been on the threat of Republicans shutting down the 
government over women's health services, the Senate Republicans have 
virtually shut down the judicial confirmation process. It is harming 
our justice system in the short and long term.
  I have spoken to a number of Republican Senators who realize this is 
wrong. These are the same Senators who came to me at the time of 
President Bush and asked: Can you move these judges, even though you 
are in charge? And I said, of course, we will. Some have come 
sheepishly and said: We are sorry we didn't return the favor. What I 
say is reverse course; I urge Senate Republicans to reverse course and 
realize the short-term partisan decisions are undermining the ability 
of the judicial system to serve our communities.
  Tonight's vote to confirm a district court nominee from Missouri is 
long overdue. I urge the Senate Republican leadership to schedule votes 
for the remaining 13 consensus judicial nominees on the Executive 
Calendar. They could all be done tomorrow morning in half an hour's 
time.
  I have been in the Senate longer than any Member of this body. I have 
been here in the majority and the minority, numerous times in both. I 
have been here with Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents, 
with the Republican leaders----
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.
  Mr. LEAHY. I see nobody else seeking recognition. I ask unanimous 
consent for another 3 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEAHY. I have been here with both Republican and Democratic 
leadership of this body, Republican and Democratic Presidents. I have 
never, in 41 years, seen the Federal judiciary treated in such a 
cavalier, mean-spirited and, I would say, irresponsible fashion. I know 
most Senators want to do the right thing. Let's start doing it. This 
Third Branch of government should be treated with respect. If you have 
a person who is not competent who is nominated, then vote them down, 
but if they are competent, let's have a vote on it. Let's not have 
this.
  You are not going to find good men and women to agree to serve on the 
Federal bench if they think they are going to be delayed for partisan 
reasons for a year or more at a time. We can do better. We are all 
proud of our Federal judiciary. It is the best in the world, but this 
kind of partisanship could turn it into one of the worst in the world. 
This Senator does not want to see that happen.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gardner). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Under the previous order, the question is, Will the Senate advise and 
consent to the nomination of Roseann A. Ketchmark, of Missouri, to be 
United States District Judge for the Western District of Missouri?
  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Texas (Mr. Cruz) and the Senator from Florida (Mr. Rubio).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Markey) and the Senator from New Mexico (Mr. Udall) are necessarily 
absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Daines). Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 96, nays 0, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 263 Ex.]

                                YEAS--96

     Alexander
     Ayotte
     Baldwin
     Barrasso
     Bennet
     Blumenthal
     Blunt
     Booker
     Boozman
     Boxer
     Brown
     Burr
     Cantwell
     Capito
     Cardin
     Carper
     Casey
     Cassidy
     Coats
     Cochran
     Collins
     Coons
     Corker
     Cornyn
     Cotton
     Crapo
     Daines
     Donnelly
     Durbin
     Enzi
     Ernst
     Feinstein
     Fischer
     Flake
     Franken
     Gardner
     Gillibrand
     Graham
     Grassley
     Hatch
     Heinrich
     Heitkamp
     Heller
     Hirono
     Hoeven
     Inhofe
     Isakson
     Johnson
     Kaine
     King
     Kirk
     Klobuchar
     Lankford
     Leahy
     Lee
     Manchin
     McCain
     McCaskill
     McConnell
     Menendez
     Merkley
     Mikulski
     Moran
     Murkowski
     Murphy
     Murray
     Nelson
     Paul
     Perdue
     Peters
     Portman
     Reed
     Reid
     Risch
     Roberts
     Rounds
     Sanders
     Sasse
     Schatz
     Schumer
     Scott
     Sessions
     Shaheen
     Shelby
     Stabenow
     Sullivan
     Tester
     Thune
     Tillis
     Toomey
     Vitter
     Warner
     Warren
     Whitehouse
     Wicker
     Wyden

                             NOT VOTING--4

     Cruz
     Markey
     Rubio
     Udall
  The nomination was confirmed.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motion to 
reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table, and the 
President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

                          ____________________