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Obama Names Nominees to D.C. Court, Challenges Republicans
In what is widely perceived as being a challenge to Republican Senators, President Barack Obama is expected to announce three judicial nominees for the understaffed U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Of Columbia Circuit. Republican Senators have blocked the majority of Obama’s judicial nominees since he was elected president, but Obama hopes that by nominating judges for the three open seats all at once, he can bypass some of the roadblocks that the Senate is expected to put up during the approval process.
The D.C. court of appeals is at the center of a bitter battle between Democrats and Republicans. The court has tremendous power for a local appeals court, as it has jurisdiction over many D.C.-based governmental departments and regulations, and is unofficially considered to be a training ground for the Supreme Court.
Obama is expected to name Patricia Ann Millett, Cornelia Pillard, and Robert Leon Wilkins as his nominees for the positions. The Huffington Post reports that Pillard is a professor of law at Georgetown University, Millet is a Washington appeals lawyer, and Wilkins is a judge on the U.S. District Court in Washington. Millett worked in George W. Bush’s presidential administration, and Wilkins was confirmed for his current position without opposition in Obama’s first term, so it is predicted that two of the three nominees will be agreeable to Republican Senators.
These nominees, which include two white women and a black man, are in line with Obama’s calls for diversity within the federal judicial system.
Though the court is typically ruled over by 11 judges, there have been only 8 judges serving for the last several years; four judges appointed by Democrats and four appointed by Republicans. These eight are aided by five semi-retired judges. Republicans have said that there is not enough work in this particular district to necessitate 11 judges, and have introduced legislation to relocate a seat from the court to Atlanta, but that legislation stalled.
The court has wielded its influence by striking down many of Obama’s initiatives, including regulations relating to polluting and cigarette packaging, Critics of Obama have accused him of attempting to stack the court in his favor in order to “stack the bench” and push his own initiatives through the courts.
Since taking office in 2009, Obama has struggled to make much of an impact on the judicial system, with a number of his nominees being rejected by opposition in the Senate. By making three nominees for one court simultaneously, he hopes that at least one or two of the judges will be approved by the Senate, and if all three are rejected, than the media will draw attention to the perceived difficulty that Republican senators are creating.Obama Names Nominees to D.C. Court, Challenges Republicans by Andrew Ostler