Why is it important to fill the spots on the D.C. Circuit?

May 28th, 2013

The reason *not* to give is that the court is “furstrat[ing] the president’s agenda.”

“The court is critically important — the majority has made decisions that have frustrated the president’s agenda,” said Nan Aron, a liberal activist who has called for Mr. Obama to be more aggressive in nominating judges. “Our view is that balance must be restored on that court, and the empty seats must be filled.”

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said last week that the court’s rulings were “wreaking havoc” on the country.

She should at least make the argument that they are getting things wrong on the law. But this just wreaks of FDR court-packing. Woops, the judges are opposing the President so we need to replace them. Even putting aside efforts to increase the size of the D.C. Circuits, adding judges to a court of appeals indirectly replaces existing judges from sitting on more panels. That is, given a regularly constant number of cases, when there are more judges, the older (read GOP judges) will have fewer cases to hear.

In any event, the three names the Times recommended are probably solid picks to generate lots of support.

White House officials declined to say who Mr. Obama’s choices will be ahead of an announcement that could come this week, but leading contenders for the spots appear to include Cornelia T. L. Pillard, a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center; David C. Frederick, who often represents consumers and investors at the Supreme Court; and Patricia Ann Millett, a veteran appeals lawyer in Washington. All three are experienced lawyers who would be unlikely to generate controversy individually.

They are also picks that will do little to galvanize the base. Neither the American Constitution Society nor the Constitutional Accountability Center endorsed Sri, though they pushed for his nomination.

Nominating multiple candidates at once makes me think back to the Rehnquist/Scalia 2-for-1 in 1986. Because everyone was so focused on the Chief, Scalia slid in with a 97-0 vote.

Update: CAC writes in with a correction–it seems the Mother Jones piece I liked to was confusing/misleading.

CAC did endorse Srinivasan.http://theusconstitution.org/sri-srinivasan

I believe the confusion comes from, we hold off on endorsing anyone until they’ve had their first hearing before the Committee. (I think ACS might have the same policy.) The Mother Jones article you pointed to was written before he had appeared, and there was some confusion on how they stated that. First they said CAC and ACS don’t make endorsements period, then they corrected themselves and say we do, just hadn’t in that case—but that’s misleading too.

Either way: we actively endorsed him. We sent out letter around the day after he appeared before the Committee.