Norton Says Trump Administration Continues to Disrespect D.C. on Nominations, Reiterates Call for Senate Democrats to Question Nominees on D.C. Knowledge and Residency
D.C. U.S. District Court Nominees Don’t Pay Norton Courtesy Visit Before Confirmation Hearing, Wednesday
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today expressed her strong disappointment that the Trump administration did not even extend her the courtesy to meet the first two nominees for federal positions in the District of Columbia that the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider this Congress—Timothy Kelly and Trevor McFadden, both for the federal district court here—before their confirmation hearing on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Unlike the last three administrations, the Trump administration has not provided Norton with any role in the nomination of federal judges and law enforcement officials in the District. As a result, Norton is requesting that Democrats on the committee question nominees on their knowledge of D.C. and whether they intend to reside in the District during their terms. Congress has found that it is critical that these federal officials understand the people and issues of the jurisdictions they serve, and living in the jurisdictions where their decisions apply keeps them in touch with local issues. This is particularly important for the U.S. Attorney for D.C., whose major responsibility is prosecuting almost all crimes committed by adults under local D.C. law.
“Not only has the Trump administration completely excluded D.C. from any role in the nomination of federal officials in D.C., they have failed to even extend to us the basic courtesy to take the measure of the nominees in person before their confirmation hearings in the Senate, where taxpaying D.C. residents have no representation whatsoever,” Norton said. “It is inconceivable that the Trump administration would not request a meeting to introduce nominees to at least their home-state senators before their confirmation hearings.”
In March, Norton wrote Trump requesting that he extend her the courtesy of consulting on 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. Presidents Clinton and Obama extended Norton the courtesy to recommend these 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. Pursuant to this authority, 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 made her recommendations to the president from among those candidates. 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.
To date, Trump has nominated three judges to the federal district court here and the U.S. Attorney, three of whom are not D.C. residents. Under federal law, in nearly every U.S. jurisdiction, federal district court judges, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals are required to reside within the jurisdictions where they have been appointed—but no such residency requirement exists for officials serving in the District. Even in the U.S. territories, such officials must live in those districts, other than the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal appointed for the Northern Mariana Islands, who at the same time are serving in the same capacity in another district. The only other exceptions exist for officials appointed to the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York, which are the only districts that serve different parts of the same city. In April, Norton introduced a bill to require these officials serving in D.C. to live in D.C. The bill is part of her “Free and Equal D.C.” series of legislation, which insists on equal rights for D.C. residents, which is possible under the Home Rule Act even before the District achieves statehood.