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Judicial Vacancies and the D.C. Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is generally considered to be the Nation’s second most important court, after the Supreme Court. This is because the D.C. Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over disputes involving numerous federal laws and regulations, and is responsible for resolving critically important cases involving national security, environmental protection, employment discrimination, food and drug safety, separation of powers, and the decisions of a wide array of administrative agencies. Congress has authorized 11 judgeships for this court.

On June 4, 2013, in an historic Rose Garden ceremony, President Obama nominated attorney Patricia Millett, Georgetown Law Professor Nina Pillard, and United States District Court Judge Robert Wilkins to fill the three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit. Even before those nominations had been announced, however, Senator Charles Grassley, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, signaled an intent to block the President’s nominees to these three seats by introducing a bill to eliminate all three of the seats from the court. This proposal was a mass filibuster by another name, obstruction of the President’s judicial nominees taken to a new level.


News

President Obama announces the nomination of Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Judge Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit. [Video]

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Patricia Millett’s nomination on July 10, 2013. A webcast of the hearing is available on the Committee’s website.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Nina Pillard's nomination on July 24, 2013. A webcast of the hearing is available on the Comittee's website.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by a strict party-line vote of 10-8 on August 1, 2013, sending her nomination to the full Senate. [Video]

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Judge Robert Wilkins' nomination on September 11, 2013. A webcast of the hearing is available on the Comittee's website.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Nina Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by a strict party-line vote of 10-8 on September 19, 2013, sending her nomination to the full Senate. [Video]

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by a strict party-line vote of 10-8 on October 31, 2013, sending his nomination to the full Senate. [Video]

Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination of Patricia Millett, preventing Millett from receiving a yes-or-no vote on the Senate floor. The Senate failed to pass a cloture motion on October 31, 2013. [Senate Roll Call]

Senate Republicans filibustered the nomination of Judge Robert Wilkins, preventing Wilkins from receiving a yes-or-no vote on the Senate floor. The Senate failed to pass a cloture motion on November 18, 2013. [Senate Roll Call]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a change to Senate rules to prohibit filibusters of executive nominations and judicial nominations, except for nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court, on November 21, 2013.

The Senate confirmed Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit on December 10, 2013. [Senate Roll Call]

The Senate confirmed Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit on December 12, 2013. [Senate Roll Call]

The Senate confirmed Judge Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit on January 13, 2013. [Senate Roll Call]


Statements

CAC Hails Patricia Millett Confirmation, Laments Virtual Party-Line Vote
December 10, 2013

CAC Reacts To Nuclear Option In Senate
November 21, 2013

CAC Reaction To Senate GOP Filibuster Of Patricia Millett To D.C. Circuit
October 31, 2013

Judiciary GOP Members Ignore Qualifications of Another D.C. Circuit Nominee, Pillard Reported Out of Committee on Party-Line Vote
September 19, 2013

D.C. Circuit Nominee Millett Goes To Full Senate On Party-Line Vote: Will Republicans Join Sen. McCain To Break The Grassley Filibuster?
August 1, 2013

Senate Republicans Use Millett D.C. Circuit Hearing for Grandstanding
July 10, 2013

CAC Hails President Obama For “Doing His Job”
June 4, 2013

After Srinivasan Confirmation, ‘Mass Filibuster’ Of Three Vacancies Looms
May 23, 2013

Srinivasan’s Nomination Moves, But Will Senate Republicans Keep Remaining D.C. Circuit Vacancies Unfilled?
May 16, 2013


CAC Letters in Support of Nominees

Letter to Senate in Support of Judge Robert Wilkins
November 14, 2013

Letter to Senate in Support of Prof. Nina Pillard
November 8, 2013

Letter to Senate in Support of Patricia Millett
October 29, 2013

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Judge Robert Wilkins
September 27, 2013

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Nina Pillard
September 9, 2013

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Patricia Millett
July 17, 2013

Letter to Senate in Support of Sri Srinivasan
May 17, 2013

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Sri Srinivasan
April 11, 2013

Letter to Senate in Support of Caitlin Halligan
February 21, 2013

Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee in Support of Caitlin Halligan
March 17, 2011


Articles, Commentary and Resources

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The Vote That Will Change America
Text & History
Doug Kendall and Tom Donnelly
November 21, 2013

Has John McCain Been Inhabited By a Pod Person?
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
November 18, 2013

Give Patricia Millett the Pay Cut She Deserves
Huffington Post
Doug Kendall
October 31, 2013

CAC's Letter to the House Judiciary Committee Regarding Testimony by Ambassador C. Boyden Gray
October 31, 2013

CAC's Written Testimony for the House Judiciary Committee's Hearing, "Are More Judges Always the Answer?"
October 28, 2013

Senior Moments at the D.C. Circuit
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
September 25, 2013

Nina Pillard Nomination for D.C. Circuit Advances
National Law Journal
Todd Ruger
September 19, 2013

Pillard well-qualified for seat on Appeals Court
Politico
Josiah Bunting III
September 17, 2013

CAC's Written Testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts' Hearing on the Federal Judgeship Act of 2013
September 9, 2013

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans: Hypocrisy, Revisionism and the D.C. Circuit
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
August 1, 2013

The Next Fillibuster Face-Off: Obama's Judicial Nominees
Talking Points Memo
Sahil Kapur
July 31, 2013

Why is Senator Grassley Playing Hide-the-Ball Over the D.C. Circuit?
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
July 26, 2013

The Next Nuclear Test
Huffington Post
Doug Kendall
July 25, 2013

Will Other Republican Senators Join John McCain and Susan Collins in Rebuffing Senator Charles Grassley’s Partisan Effort to Prevent President Obama’s D.C. Circuit Nominees From Getting a Vote?
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
July 8, 2013

A Bad Week for Senator Charles Grassley and his Plan to Mass Fillibuster the President's D.C. Circuit Nominees
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
June 21, 2013

A “Pack” of Nonsense
Huffington Post
Doug Kendall
June 7, 2013

Our View: Sen. Collins, GOP colleagues trying to slow government
Portland Press-Herald
May 29, 2013

Letter: It’s Not Packing, Just Filling the D.C. Bench
Wall Street Journal
Judith E. Schaeffer
May 23, 2013

Did Senator Cornyn Forget About His Letter To President Obama?
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
May 14, 2013

Grassley aims for GOP political spin on federal judiciary
Reuters
Doug Kendall
May 10, 2013

Some Points In Opposition to Senator Grassley’s "Court Efficiency Act”
Constitutional Accountability Center
May 7, 2013

CRS Confirms Historic Obstruction of President Obama’s Judicial Nominees
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
May 6, 2013

Broken Circuit: Obstructionism in the Environment's Most Important Court
The Environmental Forum
Doug Kendall and Simon Lazarus
May/June, 2013

Did Senator Grassley Not Check His Inbox? -- His Proposal to Gut the D.C. Circuit Ignores the Judicial Conference
Text & History
Judith E. Schaeffer
April 17, 2013