Toomey Supports PA Judicial Nominee

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Contact: Nachama Soloveichik (202) 224-0437
or Rebecca Neal (202) 224-8609


WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) spoke on the Senate floor today in support of the nomination of Cathy Bissoon to be a U.S. District judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Following remarks from Sens. Toomey and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), the Senate voted 82-3 today to confirm Judge Bissoon.

Sen. Toomey submitted a blue slip to the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve Judge Bissoon in June, signaling the senator’s support and allowing the Judiciary Committee to move forward with judicial hearings and the confirmation process. Sens. Toomey and Casey spoke in support of Judge Bissoon at her July Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

Please click the picture above
to watch the senator’s floor remarks.

A transcript of the senator’s remarks is below:

"Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, I rise today to offer my full support for the nomination of Judge Cathy Bissoon to serve as a U.S. District judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania. But before I begin, I’d like to quickly express my appreciation to my colleague, Sen. Casey, whom I see across the chamber at this moment, to thank him for his collaboration in our joint efforts to fill the vacancies on the federal bench from Pennsylvania.

"As I think many of our colleagues would agree, the confirmation of federal judges is one of the most important constitutional functions of any member of the Senate, and since I was sworn in, Sen. Casey and I have worked together on a bipartisan basis to identify and advance qualified candidates for the federal bench.

"As part of this effort, I have supported President Obama’s three district court nominees for Pennsylvania, even though they were first appointed before I was sworn into the Senate, and I’m pleased that this spirit of cooperation has led to today’s confirmation vote for Judge Bissoon. I remain hopeful that we will have a number of confirmation votes in the very near future as Sen. Casey and I continue working together to recommend qualified individuals to serve on the federal bench.

"A quick couple of words about Judge Bissoon. She was nominated last year following the recommendations of Sens. Casey and Specter and was re-nominated by this administration in January. Judge Cathy Bissoon has had a distinguished career in the law. She was born and raised in New York City, where she attended Alfred University and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in political science. She earned her law degree from Harvard University before moving to Pittsburgh to join Reed Smith, an international law firm, where she has practiced labor and employment law in particular. She went on to clerk for chief U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster and later returned to Reed Smith in 2001. Judge Bissoon left private practice in 2008 to resume her current position as a magistrate judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

"Her strong work ethic, discipline and in particular her experience in labor and employment law make her well qualified to preside over cases in the Western District of Pennsylvania, a district with a heavy employment caseload. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with Judge Bissoon and to learn more about her legal philosophy. She stressed to me in that conversation that she understands very well a judge’s role is to enforce the law as written, regardless of the judge’s personal beliefs about that law. Chief Justice Roberts came up with a metaphor for this which has become rather famous in which he described the role of the judge as that of an official on a playing field but not one of the players. Judge Bissoon confirmed that that’s exactly her view of the role of a judge, that it is the role of a legislative branch together with the executive to pass the law, and the role of the judge to enforce the law impartially.

"I am confident that she understands that role, has internalized that and would bring that as well as a great deal of experience (and) judicial acumen to this very, very important role, and that is why I am supporting her nomination. Following a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Bissoon was unanimously approved by the committee back in July. I have strong confidence in Judge Bissoon’s abilities, and I encourage my Senate colleagues to join me in confirming her as a federal district judge for the Western District in a vote that will be occurring later this evening.

"In addition to Judge Bissoon’s nomination, I’d like to briefly express my support for two other Pennsylvania nominees who were also unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee back in July, and I hope they will each receive floor consideration very soon.

"Mark Hornak, a nominee for the Western District of Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was recognized as a National Merit Scholar. He went on to graduate summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh’s school of law, where he served as editor in chief of the law review and was awarded the order of the coif. Following graduation, he served as a law clerk to the honorable circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit. Since 1982, he has practiced labor and employment law. Throughout his career, he has been a careful student of the law and he has demonstrated an intellectual curiosity and a commitment to integrity, which I know will serve him well if he is confirmed to the bench.

"Finally, Robert Mariani is a nominee for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He is a cum laude graduate from Villanova University, received his J.D. from Syracuse University’s college of law. Following graduation, he established a law firm, where he began a career as a civil litigator in the Scranton area, and he has done this for about three decades now. Mr. Mariani is a respected member of the Scranton community. He was nominated for a State Superior Court seat in 1993 by then-Governor Robert Casey. He served as a mediator or an arbitrator for a variety of legal matters. He is currently the sole shareholder of Robert Mariani P.C. His diligence, professionalism and knowledge of the law would be an asset to the bench.

"Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet separately with both Mr. Hornak and Mr. Mariani, and I am very confident of their intellect, their experience, their integrity, temperament, commitment to public service and to their understanding of the proper role of a judge. I believe that these character traits and this range of experience will enable them to effectively serve the people of Pennsylvania. I am therefore pleased to rise today to speak on their behalf and to urge all of my colleagues to support their confirmation."