Press Release

May 13, 2010
Senators Both Sign Letter Pledging Not to Use Secret Holds Against Any Nominees

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-MD) participated today in the nomination hearing for Marylanders Ellen Hollander and James Bredar to fill vacancies on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
  Hollander currently serves as a Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge and Bredar is a U.S. Magistrate Judge.
  Senator Cardin, a member of the Judiciary Committee that will consider the nominations, presided over the hearing. Senator Mikulski provided formal introductions for Judge Hollander and Judge Bredar.


“Marylanders can take pride in knowing that Judge Hollander and Judge Bredar both have impressive legal backgrounds and long experience in the State of Maryland, which are essential in our District Court nominees,”
said Senator Cardin. “I was pleased to join with Senator Mikulski in recommending Judge Hollander and Judge Bredar to President Obama for nomination to the vacant Maryland seats.
 It has been refreshing to work with an administration open to finding quality, consensus candidates for such critical positions.” 


“I am so proud to introduce both of these nominees,”
Senator Mikulski said. “It is critical that we have judges with commitment to public service, civic engagement, and the rule of law; and both Judge Hollander and Judge Bredar have these qualities. A look at their backgrounds shows that while they will bring different and unique experiences to the federal bench, they will each bring unquestionable competence and preparedness as well as a deep understanding of how ordinary Americans live. And, as importantly, they will bring the right values to the bench, having a firsthand understanding of what people in their communities face.”


If confirmed, Judge Hollander will occupy the seat formerly held by Judge Andre Davis, who was confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last November. Judge Bredar would fill the vacancy created by Judge J. Frederick Motz’s notification of senior status last November.


In an effort to bring more transparency to the work of the Senate, Senators Cardin and Mikulski have both signed a letter pledging not to place ‘secret holds’ and calling upon Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the practice outright. Senators would be forced to give a public explanation of why they are blocking a certain nomination or piece of legislation.


The letter, now signed by 60 senators, reads: “While we deeply respect and appreciate the importance of tradition in this institution, we believe the practice of the secret hold has no rightful place in the Senate or in an open and transparent democracy.  When a member of the Senate wishes to hold legislation or a nomination, that Senator owes to this body and, more importantly, to the American public a full explanation.”

Read the full letter here.


“The rules of the Senate have been abused. No single senator should be allowed to block nominations or legislation indefinitely or bring the action of the Senate to a halt – and he or she certainly should never be permitted to do it anonymously,”
said Senator Cardin.


“Secret holds are used to obstruct and obfuscate so that when all gets said and done, more gets said than done,”
Senator Mikulski said. “It’s an out-dated practice from another age that’s not being used as intended. I’m done with it. I’ve been a reformer all my life. That’s why I’ve pledged not to use secret holds and encourage all my Senate colleagues to make the same pledge.”






Ellen Lipton Hollander currently serves as a Judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, a position she has held since 1994.  She received her
juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, and upon graduation, served as a law clerk to the Honorable James R. Miller Jr. on the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.  She has spent her entire legal career in the State of Maryland, and has served as an Assistant United States Attorney and Circuit Court Judge in Baltimore City. 




James K. Bredar is a United States Magistrate Judge in the District of Maryland, and has served in this capacity since 1998.  He received his
juris doctorate, with honors
, from Georgetown University Law Center, and began his legal career in Colorado, where he served as an Assistant United States Attorney.  Judge Bredar then served as the Federal Public Defender for the District of Maryland from 1992-1998, before joining the bench as a magistrate judge.