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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

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Norton Says Trump Administration Has Nominated Four Judges for D.C. District Court, But No District Judges in States with a Democratic Senator

Sep 15, 2017
Press Release

Senate Committee Confirms Another Trump Nominee for D.C. District Court in Latest Unequal Treatment of D.C. by Trump Administration on Federal Judges

WASHINGTON, D.C.—After the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday voted to advance Dabney Langhorne Friedrich’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to the full Senate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said she would continue to seek consultation on federal law enforcement nominees in D.C.  Despite repeated requests, the Trump administration has continued to make nominations without consulting Norton.   The Trump administration has not made any nominations for federal district courts in states with a Democratic senator, yet has made four nominations for the federal district court in D.C.  According to Buzzfeed, the Trump administration has not made any nominations in such states because the administration is working on “consensus picks” with these Democrats.  Norton said the same should be the case for the District.

“On behalf of D.C. residents, I must continue to seek some consultation or to call out the Trump administration for breaking with Republican precedent by making nominations for federal judges and other law enforcement officers in the District without consultation,” Norton said. “We cannot let the Trump Administration disrespect D.C. residents on critical law enforcement positions without a fight.”

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 unless both home-state senators, regardless of party, consent to the nominee moving forward, known as the “blue-slip” process, providing the Trump administration with an incentive to consult Democratic senators.

To date, Trump has nominated four to the federal district court here.  One has been confirmed by the Senate, two, including Friedrich, have only been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and one was nominated last week.  Three of the four nominees are not D.C. residents.  Under federal law, in nearly every U.S. jurisdiction, federal district court judges are required to reside within the jurisdictions where they have been appointed—but no such residency requirement exists for judges serving in the District.  In April, Norton again 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.

In March, Norton wrote President Trump requesting that he extend her the courtesy of consulting on the appointment of key federal law enforcement officials in D.C.—including federal district court judges, the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshals—the same courtesy extended to her by President George W. Bush.  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 moving to the District.  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 recommended the top candidates to the president.