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FLOOR STATEMENT

U.S. SENATOR MIKE ENZI

On the confirmation of Gregory Alan Phillips to serve as a U.S. Circuit Judge for the 10th Circuit.

July 8, 2013

 

Mr. President, I rise this afternoon in strong support for the confirmation of Gregory Alan Phillips to serve as a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

I believe Mr. Phillips has all the characteristics necessary to serve as a federal appellate judge. I worked with Mr. Phillips in the Wyoming Legislature and can say with confidence that he is recognized throughout the Wyoming legal community as a talented, respected and thoughtful attorney.

This vote is also important because the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has experienced a number of judicial vacancies recently. In February, the Senate confirmed Judge Bacharach of Oklahoma to the panel and we now have the opportunity to fill another vacancy so the Tenth Circuit can continue its work.

Mr. Phillips has served as Wyoming’s Attorney General since 2011.  The attorney general is not an elected position in Wyoming and it is important to note that Mr. Phillips was appointed by Governor Mead although they do not share the same party affiliation. This speaks tremendously to Mr. Phillips’ talent and legal reputation. 

Governor Mead and former U.S. Attorney comments that Greg is a “first-rate legal thinker, a tireless worker and has an abiding sense of fair play.” Governor Mead goes on to say that if confirmed, all those who appear before Mr. Phillips will find, “a judge fully prepared, engaged, and respectful to all.”

Mr. Phillips was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a unanimous voice vote on April 18. The fact that he now stands for a vote after being nominated only in January is credit to his abilities and strong bipartisan support. I want to thank Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley and members of the Judiciary Committee for reviewing and moving this nomination along so quickly.  

It is no surprise the American Bar Association unanimously gave Mr. Phillips its highest rating. Greg has extensive experience practicing law as a Deputy County Attorney and in private practice. Before becoming Wyoming’s Attorney General, Mr. Phillips served 7-years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming handling criminal prosecutions and appeals.  Greg has extensive experience arguing in federal court including taking nearly 20 cases before the Tenth Circuit.  

Mr. Phillips studied economics at the University of Wyoming and graduated with honors from the Wyoming College of Law where he was on the law review. Immediately following law school, Mr. Phillips served as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Wyoming. Judge Johnson writes that Greg is “devoted to the rule of law and will honor the remarkable judicial officers who preceded him”. Specifically, Judge Johnson notes that Mr. Phillips’ thorough study of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, experience as a federal criminal prosecutor and understanding of state and federal legal issues will serve him well on the Tenth Circuit.

Mr. Phillips also has strong support from his colleagues from around the nation. Thirty-four Attorneys General wrote the Senate Judiciary Committee in March expressing their support for the nomination. I’m told there would have been more signatures on that letter but the nomination was advanced so diligently that some didn’t get a chance to sign the letter before Greg’s hearing.  

I would like to conclude by saying that I can personally attest to Mr. Phillips’ qualifications to serve as a federal judge. Greg was on the Senate Judiciary Committee when we served together in the Wyoming legislature. On the Senate floor we sat just across the aisle from each other. He was a part of formulating my 80% rule for legislating. Greg and his family are highly respected in their community and Wyoming is proud to call Greg one of our own. He will be an outstanding judge to follow Terry O’Brien, another long-time friend of mine. Terry and I, when he was a Wyoming district court judge and I was in the Wyoming state Senate, used to have dinner together to solve the world’s problems. Then I became a U.S. Senator and he became a U.S. Circuit Court Judge. I know is his successor will honorably fill the seat.

Mr. Phillips is highly qualified to serve on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and I call on my colleagues to also support his confirmation.

MR. PRESIDENT, I yield the floor.