June 20, 2023

ICYMI: Senator Warren Delivers Speech Ahead of Confirmation Vote for Julie Rikelman to the First Circuit Court of Appeals

“I urge my colleagues to support the confirmation of Julie Rikelman, a supremely qualified candidate who will bring her commitment to delivering equal justice under the law to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Video of Remarks (YouTube)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke on the Senate floor ahead of the confirmation vote for Julie Rikelman, nominee to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Senators Warren and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) recommended Rikelman to President Biden for appointment to the federal bench.

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks as Prepared by Senator Elizabeth Warren
June 20, 2023

Senator Elizabeth Warren: [Mr. / Madam] President, I rise today in support of the nomination of Julie Rikelman to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Based on the recommendation of a bipartisan advisory committee on Massachusetts judicial nominations in Massachusetts, Senator Markey and I were pleased to recommend Julie Rikelman to the President for this important role on the federal bench. She received bipartisan support from the Senate during her cloture vote last week, and I expect the same will be true shortly when we vote on her confirmation to the First Circuit. 

Julie Rikelman is an accomplished lawyer who has significant experience in both private practice and public interest, and whose career demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the rule of law.

Ms. Rikelman’s commitment to the rule of law and the Constitution is informed by her personal experience fleeing religious persecution. In the late 1970s, she and her family came to the United States from Ukraine as Jewish refugees seeking equal opportunity denied to them in the former Soviet Union.

Ms. Rikelman went on to graduate from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After law school, she clerked for Justice Dana Fabe on the Alaska Supreme Court, then Judge Morton Ira Greenberg on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Following a two-year stint as a Blackmun Fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights, Ms. Rikelman entered private practice, first as an Associate at Feldman & Olansky and then as a Senior Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. In 2006, she joined NBC Universal as Litigation Counsel before being promoted to Senior Litigation Counsel in 2008 and Vice President of Litigation in 2011. She has worked on issues related to securities, breach of contract, employment discrimination, intellectual property, and constitutional law matters.

In 2011, Ms. Rikelman returned to the Center for Reproductive Rights as a Senior Staff Attorney. One year later, she was appointed U.S. Litigation Director, and in that role argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Rikelman’s exceptional qualifications are bolstered by the support she has received from lawyers in public and private practice, prosecutors, defenders, academics and former judges representing a range of political perspectives. 

Whether appointed by Republicans or Democrats, her supporters, “. . . share a strong belief that Ms. Rikelman is a lawyer of uncommon talent and ability, broad experience, sound and fair-minded judgment, and unquestioned integrity.” Her former NBCUniversal and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett colleagues describe her as “thoughtful” and “open-minded,” and observe that she “carefully considered every argument without prejudgment and without regard to her personal views.”

Fair-minded, experienced, thoughtful, and exceptionally talented – these are the qualities a federal judge should possess, and these are the qualities Julie Rikelman has exhibited throughout her career. In addition, her personal and professional experiences will bring important diversity to our federal bench, and underlie her respect for the rule of law. 

Finally, it is important to note, now more than ever, that we have judges on the federal bench who deeply understand reproductive rights law, and Ms. Rikelman’s experience in this area makes her an exceptionally qualified nominee.

I have every confidence that Julie Rikelman will continue to uphold the rule of law and our Constitution as a First Circuit judge.

I want to thank our bipartisan advisory committee in Massachusetts for all the work they did to identify and recommend candidates like Julie Rikelman, and I want to thank President Biden for nominating her to this position. I urge my colleagues to support the confirmation of Julie Rikelman, a supremely qualified candidate who will bring her commitment to delivering equal justice under the law to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor.