Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

  • November 2, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.)

    *These remarks were given by Senator Whitehouse during a Senate Judiciary Committee Nomination Hearing on November 1, 2017

    Our Senate Judiciary nominations hearings, I believe, have become something of a joke. Nominees come to us readied for our hearings by "murder boards" that taught them how to withstand all five minutes of questioning by Senators. Nominees are often packed into panels, so a Senator’s five minutes get spread across multiple nominees. The questioning of nominees is often simple and rote. A fundamental premise in the proceedings is that there is inevitably “law” that can be impartially applied to “facts,” and there endeth the lesson. 

    The falsity of this premise can be shown in two words: Merrick Garland. If judging were all about impartial application of law to facts, why the desperate effort to stop the most qualified judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court in our lifetimes? Why does the Supreme Court majority of five Republican appointees rule so predictably on so many issues important to big Republican interests? Why did candidate Trump need to make a list of whom he’d appoint to the Court to get conservative backing? Why are gobs of political dark money spent by special interests to push for the confirmation of judicial nominees? All of this political behavior around judicial appointments belies the notion that it’s just about impartially applying law to facts. Yet we’re supposed to accept the pretense.

  • September 25, 2012
    Guest Post

    By Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Join Senator Shaheen on Facebook at and Twitter @SenatorShaheen

    Serving as a juror is one of our most basic civic responsibilities, and one of the few obligations every citizen shares. Unfortunately, members of the LGBT community are not protected from discrimination during jury selection. I have introduced a bill to change that.

    The Jury ACCESS Act (Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection) would make it illegal to eliminate a potential juror during federal jury selection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  I’m pleased to be introducing this important bill with my colleagues Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). 

    As we look back at history, women were systemically excluded from jury service until the 20th century as were racial minorities and the working poor. 

    We now have explicit protections in place to prevent striking jurors on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status. The question really is: how is it that in 2012 members of the LGBT community are not included on this list? 

    Unfortunately, we cannot legislate away the prejudices that people hold. But we must always look for ways to advance equality in our own lives. Often this means talking with our friends, our families, our neighbors who might disagree with us. Acceptance and understanding are learned traits, and we can all lead by example.