Sen. Schatz Introduces Court of Appeals Nominee Mark Bennett

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On Wednesday, April 10, 2018, Sen. Brian Schatz introduced former Hawai‘i Attorney General Mark Bennett at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to serve in the open Hawai‘i seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

A transcript of the Senator’s remarks follows:

Chairman Kennedy, Ranking Member Klobuchar, members of the committee: thank you for the opportunity to introduce Mark Bennett to this committee.

I’ve known Mark for many years, going back to when I served in the Hawai‘i State Legislature. In Hawai‘i, the attorney general is an appointed position, and Mark served a Republican governor at a time when Democrats held a two-thirds majority in the state House and Senate. But it was never difficult to work with him, because he never had a partisan agenda. Instead, he approached every issue with a focus on the substance, and how we could make things better for the state. And because Mark made the effort to understand where others were coming from, we were usually able to find common ground.

During his time as the attorney general of Hawai‘i, Mark argued dozens of appellate arguments in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. One of his cases stands out to me. In 1994, the parents of a special education student sued the State of Hawai‘i for failing to provide quality educational and behavioral services to special education students. As a result, Hawai‘i’s Department of Education was under federal supervision for more than a decade. As attorney general, Mark worked hand in hand with the legislature to make bold, effective changes that improved services to these students. Thanks to his effort, this decades-old litigation came to an end, the stewardship of the department was returned to the state, and, most importantly, the system of care for students was dramatically improved.

Mark’s distinguished service as Hawai‘i’s attorney general is part of an impressive career. After graduating magna cum laude from Cornell Law School, he clerked for a federal judge in Hawai‘i before serving for seven years as a federal prosecutor. He has since spent decades building a reputation as a respected attorney in private practice.  So it’s no surprise that he received the highest rating possible from the Hawai‘i State Bar Association, as well as a majority highly qualified rating from the American Bar Association.

Mark is joined today by his wife of more than 33 years, Patricia Ohara, who is also a dedicated public servant. And while it’s not on his resume, I’m sure this committee will be impressed that Mark runs marathons, he is a formidable bridge player, and he once appeared on the game show Jeopardy.

I am proud to support Mark’s nomination to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and I appreciate the opportunity to introduce him today.

Thank you.


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