Back in early August, Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee moved to block the first of President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, Senate Republicans, with backing from Republicans in the House, are threatening a mass blockade of all three nominees. However, the GOP continues to shroud their reasoning behind a veil of non-partisanship and fiscal conservatism as they blame Obama of court-packing.
Right now, there are three vacancies on the bench with only eight of its 11 spots filled.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is the second highest court in the country, under the U.S. Supreme Court. Senate Republicans are in full opposition to Obama’s three nominees, which include Patricia Millett, who has argued 32 cases before the high court. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently Republican-controlled, and the GOP aims to keep it that way, despite the fact they are accusing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama of court-packing.
“This week, Sen. Reid has teed up President Obama’s court-packing plan for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). “The last thing we need to do when money is tight … is throw more money at unneeded judges on this court, in an attempt to simply pack the court in order to tilt that court ideologically in a way that favors the big government agenda of the Obama Administration.”
The Republicans are arguing against creating a Democratically-tilted court while, at the same time, they are wanting to maintain its current, Republican tilt. And they use fiscal conservatism as a reason to do so. But really, it’s a copout.
“I can’t think of anything more ridiculous,” said Reid. “Making nominations to vacant judgeships is not court-packing. It’s the president’s job.”
High Democrat officials, like Reid, and critics are saying that Obama just wants to fill seats on the bench. However, it would be foolish to think that the Dems aren’t at least mindful of the benefits of having a mostly Democratic appellate federal court.
Senate Republicans are looking to filibuster the vote that’s to take place today. However, this could push the Senate Democrats to exercise the “nuclear option,” which is a Senate procedure to “force votes on stalled nominees with a simple 51-vote majority, instead of the 60 votes required to break a filibuster.”
Arguing financial reasons, along with saying that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ workload is too low, the GOP thinks that the number of judges on the bench should be decreased to eight.
Reid called out the Republican’s veiled reasoning, accusing the GOP of “hypocrisy” and two-sidedness.
“Senate Republicans were happy to confirm judges to the D.C. Circuit with Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush were in office,” said Reid. “But now that a Democrat serves in the White House, Republicans want to eliminate the remaining three vacant D.C. Circuit Court seats, . . . Republicans are using convenient but flawed political arguments to hamstring this vital court and deny highly qualified nominees like Ms. Millett a fair up-or-down vote.”
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.