Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

GOP’s Next Move Against Obama? Judicial Wars, Round II

The judicial wars have not gone away. They’re just on hold for at least another week.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee were preparing today to invoke their powers to insist on a one-week delay before a vote to advance the nomination of Nina Pillard, the Georgetown University law professor who has emerged as the most contentious of President Barack Obama’s three picks for vacancies on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

The GOP opposes all three nominees, uniting behind the rationale that the second-most influential federal court in the system (because of its jurisdiction over cases involving federal agencies) doesn’t have enough work to justify filling all the available seats.

Beyond that, Republicans are keenly aware that confirming any of the president’s picks would likely tilt the court’s ideological center of gravity to the left after several years weighted to the conservative point of view.

The partisan tussle over the judiciary, which has waxed and waned for more than a decade, enjoyed a brief resurgence in the public eye early this summer, when Obama unveiled his slate to fill the D.C. Circuit’s openings: prominent Washington appellate attorney Patricia Ann Millett, federal District Judge Robert L. Wilkins, and Pillard. The contretemps soon faded into the background for a time, while immigration and Syria and fiscal disagreements came to dominate the Senate’s agenda.

Wilkins had his confirmation hearing Wednesday. Like the session in July when the panel heard from Millett,  Republicans signaled they would have nothing substantive to say in opposition to the nominee but would instead focus all their confirmation objections on the argument that the seats they would fill should be left vacant.

That friendly treatment wasn’t accorded to Pillard. With the help of conservative advocacy groups, GOP critics have focused a welter of criticism on an array of her academic writings — much of it to do with abortion.

  • Doug Watson

    These Republicans will stop at NOTHING to bring a halt to government! Is it any wonder longtime Republicans (like myself) have switched our political affiliation to Democrat or Independent? The more Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Louis Gohmert, Steve Kings and their ilk are the voice of he GOP the fewer elections they will win.

  • sphenoid

    It’s okay to oppose things from time to time, as checks and balances are supposed to work that way. But if one branch (the executive) cannot properly exercise it’s power (to appoint) because of too much ‘checking,’ then it is the Congressional authorities that are abusing power. Fear of ideological change, fluctuating change which is healthy and necessary in the ebb and flow of politics, is not a reason to deny appointments.

  • CAfan

    Republicans think they have an entitlement to the DC Circuit…Reagan made EIGHT appointments to the DC Circuit…George HW Bush, who only served one term, had three…W had 4….Now, that we have an African American Democratic president, the DC Circuit doesn’t need to fill the vacancies….

    • dectra

      I’d agree on Kavanaugh.

      But having worked with Judge Sentelle, and to a lesser degree with Judge Brown, I find them to be realistic and far from a knee jerk right wing ideology when it comes to deciding issues of law.

  • dwmanning

    The DC court has just the right number of seats when it was Republican presidents nominating the justices. This transparent sabotage of the judicial branch by the Senate Republicans would be funny, if it weren’t so dangerous and pathetic.

  • Liberty: Minimized Coercion

    The history of the 20th century is rife with examples of people voting themselves into servitude and thus giving up liberty through democratic processes.

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