Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Sources: Obama to Name 3 D.C. Circuit Nominees Tuesday

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CQ Roll Call’s legal affairs reporter, John Gramlich, reports that President Barack Obama’s poised to announce the names of three individuals he’s nominating to serve as judges to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the timing of the event.

The three nominees, according to a White House official, will be Patricia Ann Millett, Cornelia Pillard and Robert Leon Wilkins.

Top Senate Democrats have said the nominations to what many call the nation’s second-highest court part of their recurring push to curtail the ability of Senate Republicans to launch filibusters, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been reluctant to in the past. Gramlich’s news about the timing moves the latest debate about judicial nominations to the next stage, as we previewed in a report here at #WGDB last week:

Democrats view the judicial positions as a key test in deciding whether to try to change the chamber’s nomination rules with a simple majority vote sometime this summer, a point that Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., made during a May 23 news conference with the Democratic leadership team.

He made similar comments at a little-noticed Democratic dinner in March, an indication that this game plan has been in the works for some time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters that same day that he had discussed vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with Rob Nabors, the White House deputy chief of staff. Reid hinted that the names for the three seats that remain vacant after confirmation of Sri Srinivasan could be unveiled soon.

Republicans are sure to protest, contending that the D.C. Circuit’s workload doesn’t merit having the three vacant judicial seats filled at the appellate court.

Judiciary ranking member Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced a bill last month to eliminate one of the judges and move two others to other circuits.

“The caseload is one half of what the average is of all the others, and it’s lower than everyone except for one other circuit,” Grassley said, previewing the upcoming disagreement. “Every one of these [judgeships] costs more than $1 million.”

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