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Wilkins Does D.C. Circuit Confirmation Hearing with Ease
This Wednesday Robert Wilkins had his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. Mr. Wilkins is now a U.S. district judge on Washington’s federal trial court. Robert “described his views on judicial empathy,” according to the Legal Times, as well as the importance of the court first following the law and secondly “righting societal wrongs. “He went on to say that his law clerks would describe him as being “tough but fair.”
The senators at the panel would usually be debating over the D.C. Circuit nominees. Dozens of minutes would be in argument between Democrats and Republicans regarding court statistics and whether certain vacancies need filling or not. However at this time, each and every argument was just submitted for the record and attention was directed towards what was a “relatively easy confirmation hearing” for Robert Wilkins, who is now a district judge.
Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa went on to warn Mr. Wilkins about the political arena. He commented on how whatever qualifications Wilkins has, will “have very little to do with the political fray Wilkins is entering.” Senator Grassley also alluded to the next level in the debate arena, when the nominations get to the full Senate. “Just so that you know, this is a debate that is beyond you as an individual, although it could impact you, whoever wins that debate. We’ll leave that for another day,” he told Wilkins.
The panel of Senators stayed away from controversial issues, like the voter-identification law, an issue of contention since June when the U.S. Supreme Court changed a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. The panel probed Wilkins. Senator Grassley asked “tricky questions,” where in one case he asked for Wilkins’ response to several different statements regarding reproductive rights. The statements were made by another of the White House’s three picks for the D.C. Circuit. Wilkins commented that he “wasn’t familiar with any of the statements,” and he went on to say that regarding them he would follow the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court. That is always a good and safe answer.
As the D.C. Circuit has many complex and high-impact cases, a full bench of judges is needed, according to American Constitution Society President Caroline Frederickson. Robert Wilkins himself comments that he isn’t considering this promotion because he was unhappy where he was. “I enjoy being a trial court judge and have enjoyed it for the last two and a half years. I’ve had the privilege to serve on and I’ve enjoyed that.” Wilkins is expected to win committee approval, but he is warned that the next challenge will be the Senate floor debate to come.