[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 167 (Wednesday, December 21, 2005)]
[Pages S14290-S14292]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I have a series of judicial nominations 
that have been cleared on both sides. I ask unanimous consent the 
Senate immediately proceed to executive session to consider the 
following nominations on today's Executive Calendar: Nos. 457, 458, 
459, 460, 461, 462, 463, 471, and 472. I further ask unanimous consent 
that the nominations be confirmed, the motions to reconsider be laid 
upon the table, the President be immediately notified of the Senate's 
action, and the Senate then return to legislative session.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The nominations considered and confirmed en bloc are as follows:

                             the judiciary

       Joseph Frank Bianco, of New York, to be United States 
     District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
       Timothy Mark Burgess, of Alaska, to be United States 
     District Judge for the District of Alaska.
       Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, of Kentucky, to be United States 
     District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
       Eric Nicholas Vitaliano, of New York, to be United States 
     District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
       Kristi Dubose, of Alabama, to be United States District 
     Judge for the Southern District of Alabama.
       W. Keith Watkins, of Alabama, to be United States District 
     Judge for the Middle District of Alabama.
       Virginia Mary Kendall, of Illinois, to be United States 
     District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

                   federal communications commission

       Michael Joseph Copps, of Virginia, to be a Member of the 
     Federal Communications Commission for a term of five years 
     from July 1, 2005. (Reappointment)
       Deborah Taylor Tate, of Tennessee, to be a Member of the 
     Federal Communications Commission for the remainder of the 
     term expiring June 30, 2007.


  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, if I may, Calendar No. 459, that I just 
read and was just confirmed by the Senate, is a former member of my 
staff, Greg Van Tatenhove, who is, at the moment, the U.S. attorney for 
the Eastern District of Kentucky. He is an outstanding lawyer. He will 
be a fine addition to the Federal judiciary.
  As a former staff member of mine, I say to my colleagues, you have 
done a great thing in confirming him. He will be a distinguished member 
of the Federal judiciary.
  Mr. President, I strongly support the nomination of Greg Van 
Tatenhove to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of 
  Greg Van Tatenhove has been an outstanding public servant for the 
better part of 20 years. I first met Greg when he was a young aide to a 
Member of Congress. He later joined my legislative staff, where he 
performed superbly before leaving to attend law school.
  Greg distinguished himself in law school by being chosen as an 
Articles Editor of the Kentucky Law Journal and receiving a citation 
for Excellence in Oral Advocacy in the Moot Court Program. After 
graduation from law school, Greg spent a year as clerk to U.S. District 
Court Judge Eugene Siler.
  Greg was then chosen to join the Federal Programs Branch of the 
Department of Justice through the Attorney General's Honors Program. He 
was one of only eleven young attorneys to be chosen nationwide out of 
hundreds of applicants for this prestigious branch. This branch is well 
known for handling especially complex and precedent-setting legal cases 
on behalf of the United States. During his 4 years

[[Page S14291]]

at DOJ, the Department recognized Greg for his excellent performance 
with its Special Achievement Award.
  Greg then returned to Capitol Hill, where he spent 7 years as Chief 
of Staff and Legal Counsel to Representative Ron Lewis of Kentucky. 
During his tenure, he developed a reputation as one of the 
Commonwealth's outstanding young legal minds, and in 2001, he was 
nominated by President Bush as United States Attorney in the Eastern 
District of Kentucky, a position which he has ably filled for the past 
4 years.
  In the course of his service as the chief federal law enforcement 
officer in the Eastern District, he approves all indictments, all major 
plea bargains, and is directly involved in all of the major cases 
involving the United States that come before the court, both civil and 
  Based on Greg's outstanding record, it should come as no surprise 
that President Bush nominated him as a judge for the U.S. District 
Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on September 13, 2005. I 
applaud the President's choice, and I proudly support his nomination. 
Greg's high intellect, integrity, character, and devotion to public 
service make him an ideal choice for the District Court.
  Greg's nomination has been widely praised by those who know him best, 
including two members of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, five 
members of the District Court on which he will serve, and numerous 
former colleagues. They share my conviction that Greg will be a 
splendid addition to the federal bench.
  In addition to his outstanding intellectual and professional 
abilities, Greg is a devoted family man. I know his wife Jane and his 
two beautiful children, Cooper and Catherine, are proud of him as he 
assumes this new position of responsibility.
  It was clear to me 20 years ago when I hired Greg, even then a young 
man of great accomplishment, that he would go on to greater success. 
His confirmation is the result of many years of hard work, great 
intellect, commitment to public service, and the highest ethical and 
professional standards.
  Greg Van Tatenhove will be an outstanding District Court judge, and I 
urge my colleagues to support his nomination.
  Mr. LEAHY. Last week marked the 214th anniversary of the adoption of 
the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Over the last week, this Nation 
and this Senate have been engaged in a debate about the importance of 
protecting and preserving those rights as we consider how best to 
revise and reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. We have also learned about the 
White House's domestic surveillance program that short-circuited the 
judicial safeguards established by Congress.
  Today we engage in an action unique to the Senate. We consider for 
confirmation to lifetime appointments to the judiciary a number of 
nominees. This is an instance in which all three branches of the 
government are involved. The President nominates, the Senate considers 
the nominations and, if confirmed, the nominee is appointed to become a 
member of the judiciary. The judiciary has a particularly important 
role in the protection of the rights and liberties of all Americans. It 
was Justice O'Connor who, writing for the Supreme Court, noted that 
even wartime does not give the President a ``blank check'' when it 
comes to actions that impact Americans' rights. Every day in courtrooms 
across the country federal judges are the last line of defense for 
Americans' rights.
  If anyone doubts the importance of the position of Federal district 
court judges, they need look no further than the district court judges 
assigned to sit on Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA 
Court. This court was designed specifically to act as a check on the 
Executive Branch, and when it is consulted as the law requires, it 
performs a crucial role in our Government's system of checks and 
balances. In an extraordinary development, we read today that a federal 
judge assigned by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve on 
that court has resigned in the face of the disclosure of this 
President's secret surveillance program outside of the legal FISA 
  With the votes today, the Senate will be called upon to grant or 
withhold its consent to another seven judicial nominees. If they are 
confirmed, the Senate will have confirmed 225 of this President's 
judicial nominees to lifetime appointments. If they are confirmed, the 
Senate will increase the number of confirmations this year by 50 
percent in just one day, from 14 to 21.
  I chaired the Judiciary Committee for the second half of 2001. No 
judges had been confirmed that year before I became chair. In the last 
5 months of the year we were able to have hearings, Committee 
consideration, and Senate votes on 28 new judges. We worked hard in 
spite of the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax attacks and succeeded in 
reducing vacancies and filling longstanding vacancies. Indeed in the 17 
months I chaired the Judiciary Committee, the Senate proceeded to 
confirm 100 of this President's nominees. It took Republicans more than 
twice as long to match our record. Democrats proceeded in spite of the 
recent history of Republicans pocket filibustering more than 60 of 
President Clinton's qualified, moderate nominees.
  As is clear from our record since that time, we have been willing to 
continue working with the Republican majority to fill vacancies on the 
federal bench--if only the President would send nominees. 
Unfortunately, along with home heating prices, gasoline prices, 
interest rates, the budget deficit and the trade deficit, judicial 
vacancies have also increased dramatically this year. It almost seems 
that unless the White House can pick a partisan political fight, it 
really does not care very much about the Federal judiciary. I noted in 
the spring that we had not received new nominations this year from the 
President. Only recently has that begun to change but there are still 
more than 25 vacancies without a nominee. I urge the President, as the 
Democratic leader and I have urged him for some time, to work with 
Senators on both sides of the aisle to identify qualified, consensus 
candidates to fill these vacancies.

                  Nomination of Virginia Mary Kendall

  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, included in the nominations just approved 
by the Senate is the nomination of Virginia Mary Kendall of Illinois to 
be the U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Illinois. She 
is replacing the retired Susanne Conlon. This is an extraordinary woman 
who will make a great contribution to the Federal judiciary.
  She is strongly supported by Senator Obama and myself, as well as 
Speaker Dennis Hastert. On a bipartisan basis, we reviewed many fine 
candidates for this vacancy and found Virginia Kendall to be the best. 
With the approval of the White House, she moved through the Senate 
Judiciary Committee.
  I am anxious, as soon as I finish these remarks, to go to the 
cloakroom, place a phone call, and give her a Christmas present and let 
her know her nomination has been approved by the Senate.
  I would like to thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Specter, as well 
as Ranking Member Leahy, for expediting the consideration of Ms. 
Kendall's nomination. I also want to thank Senator Obama for the 
significant role that he played in the selection process. Finally, I 
want to thank House Speaker Hastert for his role in the process and for 
his willingness to continue an Illinois tradition of seeking bipartisan 
cooperation in the recommendation of Federal district court nominees 
for presidential consideration.
  Virginia Kendall is a highly respected federal prosecutor in Chicago 
with a stellar reputation for diligence, intelligence, and integrity. 
She has been in the U.S. Attorney's office in the Northern District of 
Illinois for the past decade, and she has a great depth of experience.
  She is one of the leading prosecutors in the country in the area of 
child exploitation over the Internet, and she was the lead counsel in 
the first Internet kidnaping case brought by the Department of Justice. 
She has also prosecuted domestic terrorism and corporate fraud cases.
  Ms. Kendall has helped reduce Chicago's murder rate, by creating a 
novel program that emphasizes better outreach by law enforcement to 
parolee gun offenders and to at-risk students in the Chicago Public 
Schools. She has been the lead prosecutor in cases involving the sale 
of weapons over the Internet to minors.

[[Page S14292]]

  Ms. Kendall has also been extremely active in pro bono work. She has 
created programs in which Federal prosecutors go into Chicago high 
schools and educate students about the dangers of gun violence and the 
workings of the criminal justice system. One of her programs received 
an award from the Department of Justice as the most outstanding 
volunteer program in the country. Ms. Kendall and her husband have 
worked closely with students from the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, an 
amazing success story of a high school in Pilson, a low-income Latino 
neighborhood in Chicago.
  In addition, Ms. Kendall has served as an adjunct law professor at 
Loyola University law school for the past 12 years. Some of her former 
law school students contacted me and said she was the best professor 
they ever had. That speaks very well of Ms. Kendall's ability not only 
to understand the law, but to teach it.
  One of Ms. Kendall's biggest supporters is her boss--Patrick 
Fitzgerald--the United States Attorney in the Northern District of 
Illinois. He wrote me a long letter singing her praises, and he 

       I can also assure you that Ginny is a warm and 
     compassionate person who is very attentive to the human needs 
     of those she works with and supervises. Ginny's combination 
     of legal talents, experience as a prosecutor, supervisor and 
     instructor, and commitment to bettering the communities most 
     in need of help would stand her in great stead if she were 
     selected as a federal judge in this district.

  I am pleased to report that Ms. Kendall also receives high marks from 
her opposing counsel and has an excellent reputation in the criminal 
defense bar. One of her opposing counsel described her as ``honorable, 
decent, ethical, and someone with an ideal temperament.'' Another 
opposing counsel said Ms. Kendall was ``down to earth, honest, 
straightforward, reliable, and full of integrity.''
  I was not surprised to learn that a substantial majority of the 
American Bar Association's judicial nomination review committee gave 
Ms. Kendall their highest possible rating of ``Well Qualified.'' I am 
confident that, as a judge, Ms. Kendall will serve with honor, courage, 
and distinction on the Federal bench in the Northern District of 
Illinois for many years to come.