Stephanie Rose to be first woman federal judge in southern district of Iowa

Last night the U.S. Senate confirmed Stephanie Rose to be a federal judge for the southern district of Iowa by a vote of 89 to 1. Iowa Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley both strongly supported Rose’s nomination. I’ve posted their floor statements after the jump.

Rose will be the first woman to serve as a federal judge in the southern district of Iowa. She was one of three women Harkin recommended for this vacancy last year. Harkin also recommended Rose for the position of U.S. attorney in Iowa’s northern district of Iowa, to which she was confirmed in November 2009.

Rose’s work on the Postville cases in 2008, when she was assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district of Iowa, sparked opposition to her appointment as U.S. attorney and as a federal judge. During her Senate confirmation hearing in March of this year, Rose disavowed any role in devising the legal tactics used against undocumented immigrants swept up in the Postville raids. The U.S. Supreme Court later invalidated the use of aggravated identity theft charges in cases similar to those of the Postville defendants. Harkin defended Rose’s involvement in the Postville cases.

Floor statement from Senator Tom Harkin:

WASHINGTON–Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) spoke on the floor of the Senate in support of confirmation on Stephanie Rose to serve as a the first female district court judge in Iowa’s Southern District.  Video of Harkin’s speech can be found here.

Below is the full text of Harkin’s statement, as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. President, as many of my colleagues know, I have been a strong and enthusiastic advocate of Stephanie Rose to serve as a district court judge in Iowa’s Southern District.  I was honored to recommend to the President that he nominate this outstanding attorney, and, today, I encourage my colleagues to vote for her confirmation.

“Let me begin by thanking Senator Leahy and his staff for their hard work in advancing Ms. Rose’s nomination.  I also want to thank my senior colleague from Iowa, Senator Grassley, for his invaluable support and assistance.  For many years, Senator Grassley and I have cooperated in a spirit of goodwill on judicial nominations in our state, and I am proud we are continuing Iowa’s fine tradition regarding judicial selection.

“Mr. President, Stephanie Rose possesses in abundance the personal and professional qualities we expect from those we consider to take on the profound responsibilities of a federal judge.  She is a superb attorney.  And among jurists, prosecutors and the defense bar she has a reputation as someone who is unfailingly fair and ethical, and who possesses exceptional legal ability, intellect, integrity, and judgment.  As Charles Larson, former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa under President George W. Bush, wrote to the Judiciary Committee, Ms. Rose ‘has all the requisite abilities and traits to serve all litigants of the Southern District of Iowa in the manner expected of a federal judge.  Miss Rose would be a distinguished member of the judiciary.’

“Ms. Rose was born in Topeka, Kansas, and moved to Mason City, Iowa, when she was four.  Both of her parents were public school teachers.  She and her husband Rob have two children:  Kyle and Missy.  Ms. Rose has two sisters, one of whom was adopted after coming to the family as a foster child, one of five foster children her parents welcomed into their home.

“After graduating Mason City High School, Ms. Rose earned her bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the University of Iowa in just three years.  Then, she earned her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law in just two years, graduating in the top five percent of her class.  She could easily have commanded a big salary with a top law firm.  Instead, she opted for public service and long hours as a federal prosecutor, working to uphold the rule of law, making our neighborhoods safer, and advancing the cause of justice.

“In 2009, the Senate unanimously confirmed Ms. Rose to become U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Iowa, having previously served 12 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney.  Even before becoming U.S. Attorney, she was lead counsel in 260 felony cases and made 34 oral arguments before the 8th Circuit.  She received a national award from the Department of Justice for her work in prosecuting the largest unlawful Internet pharmacy case in the U.S.

“As United States Attorney, Ms. Rose has helped make Iowa and our nation safer, reduced violent crime and gang violence, and promoted civil rights.  In addition, she has the distinction of serving on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.

“It is no surprise that the American Bar Association gave Ms. Rose a unanimous well qualified rating.

“Finally, Mr. President, I want to comment on the historic nature of her confirmation.  Ms. Rose was the first woman to be confirmed as U.S. Attorney in Iowa’s Northern District.  And, when confirmed today, she will be the first woman confirmed as a U.S. District Court judge in Iowa’s Southern District.

“Ms. Rose is a person of truly outstanding intellect, integrity, and character.  She is exceptionally well qualified to serve as United States District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa.  Again, I urge all of my colleagues to support her confirmation.”

Floor statement from Senator Chuck Grassley:

Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

On the Nomination of Stephanie Marie Rose, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mr. President,

           I rise in support of the nomination Stephanie Marie Rose, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Iowa.   In addition, she has the support of Senator Harkin, and is well regarded throughout my home state of Iowa.  She was reported out of the Judiciary Committee by a voice vote.  She was previously confirmed by the Senate for her current position, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa

           Ms. Rose is a Hawkeye through and through, receiving two degrees from the University of Iowa – her B.A in 1994 and her J.D. in 1996.  Obviously, Ms. Rose was on the fast track through law school.  

After graduation from law school, Ms. Rose wisely chose to remain in Iowa, and Iowa was fortunate for that decision.  She first served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa.  In 1997, she was hired as a full-time attorney in that same office, where she has risen through the ranks and now heads the office.

She served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney from 1997 to 1999 and as an Assistant United States Attorney from 1999 to 2009.  During this time, she was lead counsel in the prosecution of more than 250 cases.  These cases spanned a wide range of legal issues from violent crimes and drug offense to immigration violations and money laundering.  Additionally, she has handled approximately 45 federal civil cases.  These cases have included post-conviction relief and asset forfeiture matters, as well as Freedom of Information Act and property return lawsuits.

In 2009, Ms. Rose was nominated by the President, and then confirmed by the Senate, to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.  In this role, she oversees most every aspect of the office.  This includes overseeing the civil and criminal work completed by office staff and making final determinations regarding charging decisions, plea offers, and civil settlements.  

The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Ms. Rose as “Well Qualified” for this position.

In addition, she is supported by the legal community and judges throughout the state.  Newspaper articles published in the Cedar Rapids Gazette newspaper on February 2 and February 20, 2012 captured some of that support.   I ask unanimous consent to insert these articles into the Congressional Record.

Assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams described her ability to quickly comprehend complex issues.   Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Teig, who retired last year after 31 years, said that Rose will make an “excellent” federal judge. “She has experience in the courtroom and as an administrator,” Teig said. “She has a broad view of the federal legal system and she’s very intelligent. Stephanie will make a great addition to the federal bench.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett said “she is very skilled.  She doesn’t have a personal agenda. She goes by the law.”    U.S. District Judge John Jarvey of the Southern District said her prosecution record is impressive, noting “Stephanie has won the respect of prosecutors and defense lawyers.”

Ms. Rose is also a member of the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers.  Membership in the Academy is limited to 250 attorneys whose primary focus is on trial advocacy. Membership in this distinguished group is by invitation only, with unanimous approval of the Board of Governors.  Ms. Rose is one of 15 women in the academy.    Mr. Leon Spies, the gentleman who nominated Ms. Rose, said he nominated her because she exhibited exactly what the organization strives for – the “highest quality of trial advocacy and ethical responsibilities to clients and the law.”

If confirmed, and I ‘m sure she will be confirmed, Ms. Rose will be the first woman to serve as a federal judge in the Southern District and only the second woman to serve on the federal bench in Iowa’s history.

I congratulate Ms. Rose and wish her well as she assumes her duties as a United States District Judge.

           With her confirmation today, the Senate will have confirmed 156 of President Obama’s nominees to the District and Circuit Courts. The fact is, we have confirmed over 80 percent of President Obama’s District nominees.              

           During the last presidential election year, 2008, the Senate confirmed a total of 28 judges – 24 district and 4 circuit.   This presidential election year we have exceeded those numbers.  We have confirmed 5 circuit nominees, and Judge Rose will be the 29th district judge confirmed.  That is a total of 34 judges this year versus 28 in the last presidential election year.  

           Yet, even as we make consistent progress on filling judicial vacancies, there are still voices out there claiming otherwise.  For example, early last month the Des Moines Register ran an editorial titled “Judges remain hostages in the Senate.”  They stated in that editorial, in reference to the nomination of Ms. Rose, “she will be lucky to come up for confirmation when the Senate reconvenes.”  Of course the vote had already been scheduled at that point, but they overlooked that fact.

           The Register and other critics who erroneously blame vacancy rates in the federal judiciary on Republican obstructionism overlook other facts as well.  You’ve heard me say on the Senate floor that the Senate can only confirm judges that have been sent up here from the White House.  So if the White House hasn’t sent nominations up here, we obviously can’t confirm them.

So in regard to that, I’d like to point out something from the New York Times.  I think a lot of times the New York Times would not do much to give us a basis for our position that we’ve done a pretty good job of confirming judges and why aren’t judicial nominations up here in the Senate.  But an article dated August 17, 2012 sheds some light on the subject.  In that article, “Obama Lags on Judicial Picks, Limiting His Mark on Courts” the Times pointed out how President Obama made judicial nominations a lower political priority.  The article discusses how two Supreme Court nominations, personnel upheavals, and the President’s emphasis on diversity also slowed the nominations process for lower court judges.  In fact, even as we continue to confirm judges, the President continues to lag in nominations – including nominations to so-called “judicial emergencies”. Today only 32 of the 78 current vacancies have a nominee.  Stated differently, nearly 60 percent of the current vacancies are without a nominee.  That has been the pattern for most of this administration.

           So once, again, I wanted to set the record straight, and I hope I have set it straight.  Republicans have been more than fair to this President and his judicial nominees, especially considering the fact that we have so many vacancies that haven’t had a nominee submitted to the Senate for our consideration.  

Again, I congratulate Ms. Rose and yield the floor.

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