Norton Meets with D.C. District Court Nominees, Thanks Feinstein for Pressing Nominees on D.C. Residency

Jul 11, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced that Norton met yesterday with two of the three pending nominees for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dabney Friedrich and Timothy Kelly, her first meeting with nominees of President Trump.  Norton also thanked Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for getting the two district court nominees who have already had their confirmation hearings, Kelly and Trevor McFadden, on the record on whether they intend to reside in the District during their terms.

“While the Trump administration has broken with precedent and excluded the District from the selection process for federal officials in D.C., I appreciate that the Department of Justice, at the urging of Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) at a Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, has now extended me the common courtesy of a meeting to have a discussion with nominees to D.C.’s district court,” Norton said.  “I have not personally vetted candidates, but based on my meetings and their professional credentials, these candidates appear well-qualified.  I am also grateful to Senator Dianne Feinstein for asking the nominees whether they intend to reside in D.C.  By not requiring D.C. residency for our district court judges, Congress is converting these positions into senatorial patronage.  The congressional rationale for residency is that judges should understand the people and issues of the jurisdictions they serve, and that should apply to the District of Columbia no less than to other jurisdictions.  Living in the jurisdictions where a judge’s rulings apply ensures judges understand the effect of their decisions.”

Two weeks ago, Senator Durbin asked Kelly and McFadden at their confirmation hearings to commit to meeting with Norton before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on their nominations.  Both agreed.   Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice, for the first time, contacted Norton’s office to request meetings for Friedrich, Kelly and McFadden.

Kelly, who has lived in D.C. almost continuously since 1994, responded in writing to Feinstein that he has no present intent to move, while McFadden, who lives in Virginia, said he has no present intent to move.  Under federal law, federal district court judges, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals must live in the jurisdiction to which they are appointed, except for D.C. and a few other exceptions. In April, Norton introduced a bill to require these officials serving in D.C. to live in D.C.

In March, Norton wrote President Trump requesting that he extend her the courtesy of consulting with her before the appointment of key federal officials in D.C.—including federal district court judges, the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Marshals—the same courtesy extended to her by President George W. Bush.  President Trump nominated three district court judges for D.C. and the U.S. Attorney for D.C. without consulting Norton.  Presidents Clinton and Obama extended Norton “senatorial courtesy” to recommend these federal officials in the same manner as Democratic senators, and all of Norton’s recommendations were D.C. residents or committed to residing in the District during their terms.  Using this authority granted by Presidents Clinton and Obama, Norton formed a commission of distinguished lawyers and non-lawyers, chaired by a former president of the D.C. Bar, to screen and recommend candidates, and Norton then interviewed and made her recommendation to the president.  Under Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), like his immediate predecessor and some prior chairmen, the committee has not considered nominees for federal judge, U.S. Attorney or U.S. Marshal unless both home-state senators, regardless of party, consent to the nominee moving forward, known as the “blue-slip” process.