Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks On The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Republican Obstruction Of Qualified Judicial Nominees

“It is time for Congress to pass a federal law that ensures all our citizens – regardless of where they live – can go to work unafraid to be who they are.”

“It is unfortunate that Republican are filibustering another talented, dedicated public servant nominated to serve on this crucial court.” 

“Republicans have already blocked two exceedingly qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit, Caitlin Halligan and Patricia Millett. I hope my Republican colleagues will not block another qualified nominee when we vote on cloture on Tuesday. The least this nominee deserves is a fair confirmation process and a simple up-or-down vote.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today the importance of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the need to confirm qualified Judicial nominees.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

This afternoon the Senate will vote to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would protect all Americans from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The vote on cloture on the bill will take place before lunch and a vote on final passage will occur shortly after the lunch hour. I expect a strong bipartisan vote to extend the same safeguards against workplace harassment and discrimination to every American.

It is time for Congress to pass a federal law that ensures all our citizens – regardless of where they live – can go to work unafraid to be who they are. I want to thank the Senator from Oregon, Senator Merkley, and the Senator from Iowa, Senator Harkin, for their leadership on this issue. And I hope Speaker Boehner will reconsider his decision not to bring ENDA up for a vote in the House of Representatives.

Today I will also file cloture on the nomination of a highly qualified jurist to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The D.C. Circuit is often called the second highest court in the land. And it’s no wonder why. This is what former D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Patricia Wald said of the court’s caseload:“The D.C. Circuit hears the most complex, time-consuming, labyrinthine disputes over regulations with the greatest impact on ordinary Americans’ lives.” So it is unfortunate that Republican are filibustering another talented, dedicated public servant nominated to serve on this crucial court.

Georgetown Law Professor Nina Pillard graduated magna cum laude from Yale and attended Harvard Law School. For five years she litigated individual and class-action racial discrimination cases as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

She served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and as an Assistant Solicitor General. Support for her confirmation is bipartisan. Two top Justice Department officials from the Bush era, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh and former FBI Director William Sessions, have supported her nomination.

Professor Pillard is also faculty co-director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown, which helps attorneys prepare to argue cases before the high court. She brings a wealth of knowledge to that job. She has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court and briefed another 25. Her arguments helped open the Virginia Military Institute to women in 1997 and beat back a constitutional challenge of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Professor Pillard is incredibly qualified and dedicated. So it is truly a shame that Republicans would filibuster this nomination for unrelated political reasons.

The D.C. Circuit is currently operating with only 8 of its 11 seats filled. And while Senate Republicans are blocking President Obama’s nominees to this vital court, they were happy to confirm several judges to the D.C. Circuit when Presidents Reagan and Bush were in office.

Republicans have already blocked two exceedingly qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit, Caitlin Halligan and Patricia Millett. I hope my Republican colleagues will not block another qualified nominee when we vote on cloture on Tuesday. The least this nominee deserves is a fair confirmation process and a simple up-or-down vote.

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