Federal Courts and Nominations

Letters: It’s Not Packing, Just Filling the D.C. Bench

Your editorial “Packing the D.C. Circuit” (May 20) accuses President Obama of preparing to “pack” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit with three judges it “doesn’t need.” “Packing” is an odd description of the president’s constitutional duty to nominate people to fill vacant seats on the federal bench. Congress has authorized this important federal appellate court to have a total of 11 judges, and it currently has only seven.


The editorial’s claim that the D.C. Circuit doesn’t need more judges because it has a comparatively low caseload ignores the reality that the court hears some of the most complex and time-consuming cases in the federal court system, a point made powerfully by Chief Justice John Roberts, a former D.C. Circuit judge.


Including Mr. Roberts, President George W. Bush put four judges on the D.C. Circuit. With the May 23 confirmation of Sri Srinivasan, the Obama total is one. Senate Republicans had no “workload” issues when they voted to confirm President Bush’s nominees to this court, at a time when the number of cases per authorized judge was less than it is now.


The claim by some Senate Republicans, and the Journal, that one is enough, is nothing more than a wholesale filibuster of President Obama’s future nominees.


Judith E. Schaeffer

Constitutional Accountability Center


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