February 06, 2014

Senator Warren Urges Greater Professional Diversity on Federal Bench

Cites New Report on Corporate Lawyer Dominance of Federal Judiciary, Calls for More Nominees With Broad Legal Experience

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered remarks today on "Broadening the Bench: Judicial Nominations and Professional Diversity" at an event hosted by the Alliance for Justice (AFJ). The senator advocated for greater professional diversity of the federal bench and discussed the importance of preventing a corporate capture of the federal courts.

Senator Warren noted a report from the AFJ that shows 71% of President Obama's judicial nominees have represented primarily corporate or business clients - statistics that are broadly in line with the current composition of the federal bench. "There are some really talented judges who came from the private sector..." said Senator Warren. "But I believe that diversity of experience matters. It matters that someone has represented people other than corporate clients, that they've had real experience with people who can't afford lawyers, that they've had real experience trying to fight for the public interest."

The senator explained that for years, "the judicial nominations process was largely held hostage to an intransigent Republican minority that looked for any excuse to block President Obama's efforts to nominate federal judges," and discussed the opportunity that the Senate's rules change provides the President and Senate to ensure that the next generation of judges will represent "the best and the brightest from every corner of the legal profession."

The senator also discussed the nomination of now District Court Judge Edward Chen. "President Obama stood behind the Chen nomination," said Senator Warren. "He had to re-nominate him three times over three years before the Senate finally confirmed him. When he was sworn in, Judge Chen said that despite the obstruction that he faced during this time, he never even considered withdrawing from consideration... because, ‘the federal bench is not just for people from large corporate law firms, or who represent only the wealthy, or who never speak out, or play it safe in their careers.'"

A video of the entire event is available here.