WASHINGTON — Last Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate against the final confirmation of Eric Miller to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In her remarks, Cantwell criticized the unprecedented abandonment of the Senate’s longstanding “blue slip” tradition, which allows home-state senators to have input in judicial selections. Neither Cantwell nor Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) have returned their blue slips to consent to Miller’s nomination. Cantwell also highlighted widespread opposition to the nomination, including from organizations representing all 573 Tribal Nations in the United States. The final vote is expected to take place on Tuesday afternoon.
Full text of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech is below:
CANTWELL: Mr. President, I rise in opposition to a vote we’re going to be having very soon: the confirmation of Eric Miller to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
As a United States Senator, I take my obligation to advise and consent on judicial nominations very seriously. And Mr. Miller’s confirmation process has, I believe, gone against long-standing Senate traditions, norms, and the role of advise and consent to his nomination.
This nomination has proceeded over the objection of both myself and my colleague from Washington, Senator Murray. And for more than a hundred years, this process of conferring with senators, allowing them to advise and consent on judicial nominees from their home state, has been our process.
Since 1936, only eight judges have been confirmed when one home-state senator objected. And in every case, confirmed nominees have been supported by at least one senator from the states they have been nominated from. And to this day, no circuit court judge has ever been confirmed despite opposition from their home-state senators. But all that would change with Mr. Miller if he is confirmed.
His confirmation hearing was held during a recess last Congress when the vast majority of senators were back in their states. In fact, only two members of the United States Senate were present at the hearing, and neither one of them were Democrats. Mr. Miller was questioned for less than five minutes. Five minutes. And when the Judiciary Committee Democrats requested another hearing, that request was rejected.
So, confirming Mr. Miller without a full vetting by both Democrats and Republicans is the wrong way to proceed on a lifetime appointment. Moreover, confirming Mr. Miller without approval from Senator Murray and I also continues to set a damaging precedent.
I do have legitimate concerns about Eric Miller’s nomination. He has spent much of his career fighting against the interests of Tribal governments and Tribal sovereignty. He has argued against Tribal fishing rights, challenging tribal sovereignty, and fighting against the protection of Native American religious and traditional practices. So, it is no surprise that [organizations supporting] 573 tribal nations around the United States, including the National Congress Of American Indians, oppose Mr. Miller’s confirmation.
So I urge my colleagues to stop this process and oppose the confirmation to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.