Nomination of John Thomas Fowlkes to be United States District Judge Print
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 11:36

Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley on the nomination of John Thomas Fowlkes to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mr. President, I rise in support of the nomination of John Thomas Fowlkes, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee.

Although it is the practice and tradition of the Senate to not confirm Circuit nominees in the closing months of a Presidential election year, we continue to confirm consensus District Judge nominees.  Today’s vote will be the 152nd nominee of this President confirmed to the district and circuit courts.  We also have confirmed two Supreme Court nominees during President Obama’s term.

I continue to hear some members repeatedly ask the question “What is different about this President that he has to be treated differently than all these other Presidents?”  I won’t speculate as to any inference that might be intended by that question, but I can tell you that this President is not being treated differently than previous Presidents.  By any objective measure, this President has been treated fairly and consistent with past Senate practices.

For example, with regard to the number of confirmations, let me put that in perspective for my colleagues with an apples-to-apples comparison.  The last time the Senate confirmed two Supreme Court nominees was during President Bush’s second term.   And during President Bush’s entire second term the Senate confirmed a total of only 119 district and circuit court nominees.  With Judge Fowlkes’ confirmation today, we will have confirmed 33 more District and Circuit nominees for President Obama than we did for President Bush, in similar circumstances.

During the last Presidential election year, 2008, the Senate confirmed a total of 28 judges - 24 District and four Circuit.  Today, we will exceed the number of District Court judges confirmed.  We have already confirmed five Circuit nominees, and this will be the 25th District judge confirmed this year.  Those who say that this President is being treated differently either fail to recognize history or want to ignore the facts.

Judge Fowlkes received his B.A. from Valparaiso University in 1975 and his J.D. from University of Denver School of Law in 1977.  From 1978 to 1979 he worked as an assistant public defender at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office, where he represented indigent defendants.  In 1979, he joined the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office and served as an Assistant District Attorney for the next ten years.  There he tried nearly 150 jury trials, handling homicide, assault, sex offense, robbery, and burglary cases. In 1989, he became an Assistant United States Attorney, trying criminal cases until 2002.  As an AUSA, he tried over 100 jury trials and handled all appellate level work. During his time at the Attorney’s Office, Judge Fowlkes was a First Assistant for several years, directing day to day operations of the office.   From 2002 to 2007, Judge Fowlkes was the Chief Administrative Officer for Shelby County.  He was not engaged in the practice of law during this period.

In 2007, then-Governor Phil Bredesen appointed Judge Fowlkes to be a Criminal Court Judge for Division VI of the 30th Judicial District at Memphis.  In November 2008, he was elected to a full, eight-year term. In 2011, he was elected by judges of the 30th Judicial District to serve as presiding judge.

The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously rated Judge Fowlkes as “Well Qualified.”

I support the nomination and congratulate Judge Fowlkes on his confirmation today.