GOP blocks second Obama court nominee

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked one of President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 56-41 on a motion to end debate on the nominee, Cornelia Pillard. Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome the Republican filibuster — GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats.

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“It is unfortunate that Republicans have chosen to filibuster the nomination of yet another talented female jurist and dedicated public servant to fill a vacant seat on [the D.C. Circuit] court,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who voted against the cloture motion as a procedural move so he can bring the nominee up again.

“Since a Democrat was elected to the White House, Republicans have blocked two exceedingly qualified female nominees to the D.C. Circuit.”

Republicans had already blocked one of Obama’s other nominees to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which has three vacancies. They say the president is trying to “pack” the court with liberals that will “rubber-stamp” his agenda.

Republicans have also argued that the D.C. Circuit Court doesn’t need 11 seats because the eight judges currently serving have low caseloads and that two of the seats should be moved to other appellate courts that have higher caseloads and judicial emergencies. 

“The court’s caseload makes clear that the court’s work load doesn’t justify additional judges,” Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said ahead of the vote. “Especially when it costs American taxpayers $1 million a year per judge.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that argument doesn’t pass the “giggle test.”

Some Democrats have argued that the Republican obstruction is politically motivated and sexist. The two other nominees that Republicans have blocked — Caitlin Halligan and Patricia Millett — were also women. Halligan's nomination was withdrawn by Obama earlier this year.

“Just stand up and say you don’t want women on this court,” Leahy said. “Don’t give me a bunch of folderol on cost.”

Grassley said it was “offensive” that Democrats would say Republicans are blocking the nominees because of their gender.

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