Senate Democrats Rubberstamp Another Unqualified Biden Judge

Every Single Democrat Senator Voted To Promote Judge Nancy Maldonado To An Appeals Court Seat And Will Have To Explain To Voters Why They Supported Someone With Such A Dismal Record

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Judge Nancy Maldonado, a trial judge nominated to the Seventh Circuit, has distinguished herself with sheer incompetence. Thanks to reforms put in place by then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Biden, federal courts keep track of how many fully briefed motions have been sitting without a decision for at least six months—a report often known among judges in Chicago as the ‘Biden list.’ It was a good reform, because justice delayed is justice denied. And as it turns out, Judge Maldonado has by far the largest number of motions pending for more than six months among the judges of the Seventh Circuit, with 125. She would need to rule on one of these motions every workday for the next six months just to clear her existing Biden backlog. There’s only a handful of judges in the country who are this far behind on their work. Judge Maldonado’s Biden backlog puts her beyond the 99th percentile of all district judges nationwide in terms of slowness.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/04/2024)

·       LEADER McCONNELL: “Well, the Biden list requires judges to explain why they’re so far behind. Judge Maldonado blames her record on, quote, ‘complexity of the case,’ ‘voluminous transcripts/briefs to be read,’ and ‘heavy civil and criminal caseload.’ Does the President think his nominee will face less complex cases on the court of appeals? Lighter caseloads? Less voluminous transcripts or briefs? Why on earth would our colleagues consider giving new and greater responsibilities to a judge who’s clearly struggling with the ones she’s already got? Or, for that matter, why would they consider promoting someone whose instinct is to pass the buck? I wish I were making this up: When our colleagues asked Judge Maldonado about her case backlog in written questions, she blamed her clerks! That’s probably cold comfort to prisoners seeking relief for inhumane treatment or litigants paying months of legal fees awaiting her decisions. Apparently, it’s not the woman with a judicial commission who’s responsible for justice delayed – it’s the 25-year-old brand-new lawyers on her staff! But passing the buck is what Judge Maldonado does.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/04/2024)


Every single Senate Democrat, including Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Marin Heinrich (D-NM) voted for Judge Maldonado’s confirmation. (PN1461, Roll Call Vote #203: Confirmed 47-43: D 45-0; R 0-41; I 2-2, 7/08/2024; Tester, Brown, Rosen, Casey, Baldwin, Kaine, Klobuchar, and Heinrich voted Yea)


Joe Biden Wrote The Law Creating The Metric That Demonstrates Judge Maldonado’s Shortcomings

“Three decades ago, then-Senate Judiciary Chair Joe Biden crafted a law making the speed of federal judges’ work on civil cases more transparent…. With the aid of his then-chief counsel and current chief of staff Ron Klain, Biden wrote a 1990 law that ended up having a ‘peer pressure’ effect, as described by one judge at the time, by encouraging federal judges to speed up their work and clear their dockets. Dubbed the Civil Justice Reform Act, the proposal required judges to divulge several metrics about how many motions in civil cases remain pending after six months and how many cases are pending after three years. To this day, the semi-annual disclosures required by the law are so closely associated with the former Delaware senator that they are still sometimes referred to as the ‘Biden reports.’” (“How A 1990 Law Biden Helped Pass Gives Us A Clue About His SCOTUS Pick,” Politico, 2/23/2022)

·       “Biden … was seeking to make it easier to determine which judges were sitting on civil cases in an otherwise opaque federal court universe.” (“How A 1990 Law Biden Helped Pass Gives Us A Clue About His SCOTUS Pick,” Politico, 2/23/2022)

‘You Are Probably The Least Productive Member Of Your District Court, Isn’t That Right?’

“Republicans during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing cited data showing that U.S. District Judge Nancy Maldonado ranked seventh highest nationally among district court judges with civil motions pending without a ruling for over six months.” (“Senate Republicans Grill 7th Circuit Nominee On Her Trial Court Backlog,” Reuters, 3/20/2024)

·       “Her 125 motions pending were detailed in a semi-annual report the judiciary produces pursuant to the Civil Justice Reform Act that details the extent to which federal judges have not ruled on long-pending motions in civil cases.” (“Senate Republicans Grill 7th Circuit Nominee On Her Trial Court Backlog,” Reuters, 3/20/2024)

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER LINDSAY GRAHAM (R-SC): “I think that you have 125 motions pending before you that you were assigned October 3rd, 2022. Some of these motions have been briefed since 2021. You have the third highest number of pending motions out of anybody nominated for the District Court in this Congress. … Why such backlog?” (Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/20/2024)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA), Senate Judiciary Committee Member: “You are probably the least productive member of your district court, isn’t that right?”
JUDGE NANCY MALDONADO: “Well, I have not considered myself in those terms, Senator.”
SEN. KENNEDY: “Well, let me explain what I mean. You have 125 motions pending that you’ve declined to decide. That’s more than any other district judge in the entire Seventh Circuit. In fact, you rank seventh highest nationally, do you not?”
JUDGE MALDONADO: “I am not familiar with those statistics, Senator Kennedy.” (Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/20/2024)

·       SEN. KENNEDY: “There’ve been 68 district judges confirmed in the 117th Congress. In terms of motions pending for more than six months, you rank number three. You all came up at the same time, you all had the same problems with COVID. You’re the third worst. You really think that of all the district judges in the Seventh Circuit, you’re the one that ought to be promoted?(Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 3/20/2024)

Straining To Explain Her Unproductive Record, Judge Maldonado Blamed Her Law Clerks

SEN. GRAHAM: “At your most recent nomination hearing, you attributed your significant motions backlog to hundreds of cases being assigned to you upon joining the bench. In reviewing the dockets of other judges in your district, however, Judge Lindsay C. Jenkins—who joined the bench just a few months after you did—has only 5 motions pending longer than 6 months…. What explains your 125 motions backlog compared to Judge Jenkins’ 5 motions despite joining the bench about 4 months apart?
JUDGE MALDONADO: “I cannot speak to the differences in our reported motions count other than to note a few differences that could explain the disparity. First, I came onto the bench in fall 2022 when COVID restrictions were still in place (e.g., remote hearings and remote work were the norm; the court operated on a divided trial calendar and had a protocol to limit trials). When those restrictions lifted in December 2022 and we could set cases for trial without restrictions, cases (including ones with pending motions) started to resolve more quickly. When Judge Jenkins joined the district court at the end of February 2023 (five months after me), operations were back to ‘normal.’ Second, three judges left the district court between October and December 2022, so I received additional reassigned cases, many with pending motions, on top of my initial batch of reassigned cases, which was highly-unusual. Third, the District was down three judges for several months around this time, so my newly-assigned case count, which I also had to devote attention to, increased more quickly than usual. Fourth, Judge Jenkins hired three experienced law clerks, including a former career law clerk, from one of the recently-departed judges, whereas two of my three law clerks had no prior clerking experience (despite my seeking it). Fifth, while I do not know the full scope of Judge Jenkins’ initial calendar, the cases that were reassigned from me to her were only new cases with very few pending motions (I recall one). The district court reassignment rules preclude two reassignments in a 12-month period, which meant that Judge Jenkins (as well later nominees Judge Hunt and Judge Daniel) received only new ‘baby’ cases from me, not the old ones with stale motions which are mine to resolve. Finally, since I was the first district judge nominated in my district (indeed, in the entire Seventh Circuit) by the current administration, better comparators might be the judges confirmed at the end of the prior administration, who reported 96, 85, and 59 pending motions.” (“Written Questions for Judge Nancy Maldonado,” Senate Judiciary Committee, 3/27/2024)


Judge Maldonado Also ‘Struggled To Answer Basic Questions About Assault Weapons’ During Her Confirmation Hearing

“A Biden-nominated judge struggled to answer basic questions about assault weapons during a Wednesday Senate confirmation hearing. U.S. District Judge Nancy Maldonado of the Northern District of Illinois faced some uncomfortable moments as President Biden’s pick for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit when questioned about a brief she signed that defended Illinois state ban on ‘assault weapons’ that was challenged in 2012.” (“Biden-Nominated Judge Can’t Define Assault Weapons In Confirmation Hearing,” The Washington Times, 3/20/2024)

Sen. John Kennedy during the hearing asked Judge Maldonado to define what she meant by ‘assault weapons.’ ‘You said, “Assault weapons may be banned because they’re extraordinarily dangerous and are not appropriate for legitimate self-defense purposes.’ Tell me what you meant by ‘assault weapons”?’ the Louisiana Republican asked.” (“Biden-Nominated Judge Can’t Define Assault Weapons In Confirmation Hearing,” The Washington Times, 3/20/2024)

·       “Judge Maldonado said she didn’t write the brief, that she was just local counsel and is not ‘a gun expert.’ The ban on semi-automatic assault weapons was upheld in Illinois.” (“Biden-Nominated Judge Can’t Define Assault Weapons In Confirmation Hearing,” The Washington Times, 3/20/2024)

·       “‘So you submitted a brief, an appellate brief, you signed it, and you don’t know what … and you said, “Abolish assault weapons,” and you don’t know what you wanted them to abolish?’ Mr. Kennedy said.” (“Biden-Nominated Judge Can’t Define Assault Weapons In Confirmation Hearing,” The Washington Times, 3/20/2024)

·       “The judge said she doesn’t ‘remember the exact definition of assault weapons.’ ‘I was not responsible for researching the content,’ she said.” (“Biden-Nominated Judge Can’t Define Assault Weapons In Confirmation Hearing,” The Washington Times, 3/20/2024)



Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, Senate Democrats, Nominations