Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 12, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARPER. Today, it is my honor to rise in support of the Honorable Justice Tamika Montgomery-Reeves to be confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Just a few months ago, in September of this year, I had the privilege to introduce Justice Montgomery-Reeves at her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, where she was joined in the audience by her large family and I think most of the State of Delaware.

As my colleague from Illinois, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will attest, we needed a few extra chairs at that hearing in order to accommodate Tamika's family and her friends. Many Delawareans, including the entire Delaware Court of Chancery and the current chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, either made the trek down I-95 or on the Amtrak train that morning to cheer on Justice Montgomery- Reeves. Today, we bring her nomination one step closer to final confirmation.

My colleague from Delaware, Senator Coons, and I have often said that those of us in the Senate could learn a thing or two from the First State. When it comes to nominating judges, Delaware's Governor is tasked with filling vacancies on some of the Nation's most highly regarded State courts, including the Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court.

The Governor routinely seeks advice from a bipartisan judicial nominating commission but is also required to nominate judges from both political parties. We literally have an overall political balance across our judiciary. This rule, enshrined in our State's constitution, brings balance to our court system. I believe it has served our State and our Nation well for over a century. I think it is a pretty good model for the rest of the country, actually.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was privileged to serve as Governor of Delaware, I had the opportunity to nominate a new chancellor--or what some would call a chief justice--to the Delaware Court of Chancery. I could have nominated a Democrat. I ended up nominating Bill Chandler.

Bill Chandler was born in Sussex County in southern Delaware and previously worked for two Republican Governors--Pete du Pont and Mike Castle. I will tell you, I took some heat politically for that nomination, but I believed that he was the best qualified person for the job, and all these years later, I still believe that. It didn't matter what political party he was from; I knew he would be one heck of a chancellor, and, boy, was he.

As chancellor, Bill Chandler earned the respect of our Nation's business and legal communities as a fairminded judge with the utmost integrity, and along the way, he hired and mentored countless law students and law clerks. As it turns out, Bill Chandler hired a young law student, a native of Mississippi, who was a law student at the University of Georgia. He nominated her to be one of his clerks in 2006. Her name was and still is Tamika Montgomery-Reeves.

I am a proud Delawarean, but, as I think my colleague the Presiding Officer knows, I am a native son, actually, of West Virginia. Justice Montgomery-Reeves is also a proud Delawarean, but, like me, she made her way to Delaware from another place--in her case, Mississippi--and fell in love with our State, just as I did many years ago.

After clerking for Chancellor Chandler, Tamika graduated and began a career in private practice. She became an expert in corporate law and complex business litigation. After a brief stint in private practice in New York, she was hired by another prominent law firm, Wilson Sonsini, which just happened to be looking to open up an office in--guess where--Delaware, the First State. She quickly made partner and could have continued on a path toward a lucrative legal career, but Tamika felt called to serve.

In 2015, a vacancy occurred on our Court of Chancery, and then- Governor Jack Markell nominated her to the bench to serve on that court. And she was confirmed unanimously by the Delaware State Senate.

Four years later, in 2019, Governor John Carney nominated her to serve on the Delaware State Supreme Court; and, once again, she was confirmed unanimously by the Delaware State Senate, by every single Democrat and, just as importantly, by every single Republican.

And by the way, Mr. President and colleagues here in our Chamber today, the Delaware State Senate leadership, both Democrats and Republicans, have sent a letter in support of Justice Montgomery- Reeves' confirmation to the Third Circuit.

It is part of the reason that she has earned bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee, and that nine of our friends on the other side of the aisle voted to invoke cloture on her nomination just last week.

On behalf of Senator Coons and myself--I want to take my hat off to him for helping to guide this nomination through the Judiciary Committee on to the floor and through last week's cloture vote--we want to thank all of our colleagues--all of our colleagues--Democrats and Republicans, who voted last week on moving forward Tamika's nomination.

Having said that, Justice Montgomery-Reeves is also a trailblazer, becoming the first African American to serve on both the Delaware Court of Chancery and on the Delaware Supreme Court.

Justice Montgomery-Reeves has been nominated to these positions because her credentials and her intellect are top-notch, and I might add, just as importantly, so is her heart.

In addition to her incredible academic and legal career, Tamika and her husband, Jeffrey, are raising two wonderful boys--sons that any of us would be proud to call their own--and raising them back home in Delaware.

So I would just say to them--Jeffrey, Jackson, and Tyson--if you are watching at home, thank you for allowing your wife and your mom to continue her service to our country in this new role. I know you are proud of her, and we are proud of her as well.

Let me close by saying that I am certain that if Tamika Montgomery- Reeves is confirmed, that the Delaware Supreme Court's loss will be our Nation's gain. She will bring a spirit of collegiality and consensus to the Third Circuit, just as she has in the courts that she served on in Delaware.

She is not an ideologue; she is an ideal judge.

Justice Montgomery-Reeves is of the highest caliber judges in our State and our Nation and has my strongest possible endorsement.

I urge all of our colleagues to join Senator Coons and me--Democrats and Republicans--in support of her nomination. She will not disappoint.

I would like to yield the floor to my colleague, who has done a great job in helping to steer this nomination and, actually, to help make the nomination possible in the first place. It is my pleasure, Senator Coons.