April 11, 2018

VIDEO: Cassidy Introduces Eastern, Western District Judge Nominees at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), introduced district judge nominees Wendy Vitter and Robert Summerhays at today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on their nominations. President Trump nominated Vitter to serve as a U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Summerhays to serve as a U.S. district judge for the Western District of Louisiana.

Cassidy previously introduced Louisiana judicial nominees Kurt Engelhardt, Barry Ashe, Terry Doughty, Michael Juneau, and Kyle Duncan at their respective hearings.

Full transcripts of Cassidy’s remarks at today’s hearing are below.

Introduction of Wendy Vitter

CASSIDY: I am very pleased to introduce Wendy for the United States district judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Mrs. Vitter is joined by her daughter, Sophie, a medical student at LSU Health Sciences Center, her son, Jack, who attends Jesuit High School in New Orleans. Her twins, Lise and Airey, were unable to be here, but they are juniors at Georgetown and NYU, respectively. 

Also here with Mrs. Vitter is her husband David, a Senate colleague who from 2005 until 2017 who served on this judiciary committee.

Mrs. Vitter earned her bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University, then returned home to Louisiana to earn her law degree from Tulane University. 

She has worked on legal matters in both the public and private sectors. She worked for several years in the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office, eventually named chief of the [felony trials] division. She then practiced in the private sector, focusing on maritime law, Jones Act and commercial litigation in federal courts.

Mrs. Vitter is also very involved in the New Orleans community. She served with the St. Catherine of Siena School Cooperative Club, the New Orleans chapter of the American Heart Association, the Legacy Donor Foundation, Suzan G. Komen of New Orleans, Mount Carmel Academy’s strategic plan committee, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Notre Dame Seminary as committee members, and the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans.

She’s been a member of the National District Attorneys Association, the Louisiana State Bar, the New Orleans Bar, the National Diocesan Attorneys Association, and the Federal Bar Association. She’s been recognized by the Victims and Citizens Against Crime, the Outstanding Prosecutor Award, among other accolades.

In 2012, she began working with the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdioceses of New Orleans, where she serves as the chief legal officer covering 100 church parishes, 60 elementary and high schools, Catholic Charities, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Hispanic Apostolate, Archdiocesan nursing homes and Project Lazarus—Project Lazarus, which serves to empower and support people in the New Orleans area living with HIV and AIDS.

Now, I should have a word about the process leading to her nomination. Mr. Chair, as you know, I’m a gastroenterologist, not an attorney. So, I felt like I needed a little help finding the best candidates.

I formed a committee, which is made up of lawyers, business folks, and community leaders from across the political spectrum, representing the diversity of Louisiana. You have to have a stellar resume to make it through the committee but must also have a good professional reputation and solid character to put you at the top of the list. It is the crème de la crème, if you will.

After the committee narrows down the list of applicants to those who best meet criteria, I interview and then nominate to the president. So while Mrs. Vitter has my strong support, she first had to earn the endorsement of peers in the legal community and other leaders in Louisiana.

And, by the way, I think this process is why her nomination has received praise and support from the other side of the political aisle. Her legal work and product and reputation transcend political affiliation. On note, Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Orleans, praised her, saying he has known her and respected her for over 30 years, saying quote, “I trust that Wendy will uphold the law in a fair and honest manner and would be an asset to the federal bench of the Eastern District of Louisiana.”

Mr. Chairman, Wendy is an accomplished, exceptional attorney with a breadth of experience practicing law. She will serve the Eastern District well. I highly recommend Mrs. Vitter and urge her swift confirmation through this committee and the Senate.

Introduction of Robert Summerhays

CASSIDY: I next have the privilege of introducing Robert Summerhays. Again, pleased to support strong support for the Honorable Robert Summerhays to serve as United States District Judge for the [Western] District of Louisiana.

He is joined this morning by his wife Kim and two of his three children. Anne is a freshman at Millsaps, Amelia, a sophomore at Saint Thomas More High School in Lafayette. Blakely couldn’t make it today because she is studying abroad in Barcelona undoubtedly on mom and dad’s payroll.

Judge Summerhays qualifications for this nomination are superb. He earned his bachelor’s degree with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. He then went to get his law degree from UT Law School, once again graduating with high honors and inducted into the Order of the Coif.

After graduating from law school, Judge Summerhays clerked with Judge Eugene Davis on the Fifth Circuit. He then worked in private practice in Dallas, practicing in commercial, multidistrict, securities, and bankruptcy litigation.

In 2006, Judge Summerhays was appointed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge of the Western District of Louisiana, where he has served since. In 2009, he was appointed Chief Bankruptcy Judge of the Western District.

He was unanimously certified as “well-qualified” by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.

When it comes to community involvement, Judge Summerhays clearly, clearly has been involved with the Lafayette Parish Bar Association, as a judge for the Lafayette Parish High School Mock Trial Competition. He’s been active at the Asbury United Methodist Church, given presentations on financial literacy to university and high school students through the CARE program and, since 2013, been an adjunct instructor in business law at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Judge Summerhays has served well as a federal bankruptcy judge in the Western District. I know he will continue to demonstrate the same high caliber of service as a district court judge.

Currently, there are no federal district judges serving Lafayette. The Senate will hopefully fill this seat with a qualified candidate in a timely manner. I highly recommend Judge Robert Summerhays and urge his swift confirmation through this committee and the Senate.