Federal Courts and Nominations

Senate Republicans Use Millett D.C. Circuit Hearing for Grandstanding

CAC’s Judith E. Schaeffer: “Nobody should be fooled by Senator Grassley’s numbers game.”


Washington, DC—Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on President Obama’s nomination of Patricia Millett, one of the country’s most accomplished appellate advocates, to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Rather than focusing on their constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent, Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) and his Republican colleagues used the hearing as an opportunity to advance their own partisan agenda. Even though he and Senator Ted Cruz recognized Millett’s extensive and impeccable credentials, Senator Grassley indicated that he may attempt to block a vote on her nomination and that of the President’s two other nominees to the D.C. Circuit because of his alleged concerns about that court’s caseload. In addition, Senator Cruz resurrected the discredited claim that President Obama is engaging in “court-packing” by nominating qualified nominees to existing, authorized vacancies on the D.C. Circuit bench.


“Nobody should be fooled by Senator Grassley’s numbers game.  His proposal to eliminate the 9th, 10th, and 11th judicial seats from the D.C. Circuit is hyper-partisan hypocrisy.  In 2005, the D.C. Circuit had a smaller caseload than it has now, but this did not stop Senator Grassley and his colleagues from voting to confirm George W. Bush nominees Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas Griffith to the 10th and 11th seats on that  court,” observed Constitutional Accountability Center Vice President Judith E. Schaeffer. 


“Fortunately, more principled senators are putting duty before party. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) recently observed that ‘elections have consequences,’ and that those include giving President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees an up-or-down vote. Even a co-sponsor of Senator Grassley’s bill to reduce the number of seats of the D.C. Circuit, Susan Collins (R-ME), said she will consider the nominees to that court on the merits. Every other member of the Senate should follow these principled examples, giving Patricia Millett and the two other nominees to this court fair consideration on their merits, rather than engaging in a smoke and mirrors attempt to maintain a partisan advantage over the D.C. Circuit,” Schaeffer concluded. 






“Will other Republican Senators Join McCain and Collins in Rebuffing Grassley’s Partisan Effort to Prevent D.C. Circuit Nominees From Getting a Vote?,” Judith E. Schaeffer, July 8, 2013: http://theusconstitution.org/text-history/2142/will-other-republican-senators-join-john-mccain-and-susan-collins-rebuffing


“It’s Not Packing, Just Filling the D.C. Bench,” Judith E. Schaeffer, May 24, 2013: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324787004578497511399066342.html  


“Grassley aims for GOP political spin on federal judiciary,” Doug Kendall, May 10, 2013: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/05/10/grassley-aims-for-gop-political-spin-on-federal-judiciary/ 


“Did Senator Grassley Not Check His Inbox? — His Proposal to Gut the D.C. Circuit Ignores the Judicial Conference,” Judith E. Schaeffer, April 17, 2013: http://theusconstitution.org/text-history/1959/did-senator-grassley-not-check-his-inbox-his-proposal-gut-dc-circuit-ignores 




Constitutional Accountability Center (www.theusconstitution.org) is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history.

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