Rep. King proposes reduction in DC circuit judges

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Monday will introduce legislation that would reduce by three the number of Washington, D.C., Circuit Court judges.

King's bill is meant to eliminate the need to fill the three vacancies on the appellate court that Senate Democrats have been trying to fill over GOP opposition. Republicans say the court's docket isn't busy enough to justify three more judges.

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Senate Democrats responded last week by making a controversial change to Senate rules that ends the ability of the minority party to filibuster judicial or other executive branch nominations. Democrats made this change by a simple majority vote, exercising the "nuclear option" that most observers say will increase partisan fighting in the upper chamber.

King said Tuesday that Democrats are trying to pack the court with Democrats and that the House must move quickly eliminate the three positions.

"The D.C. Circuit court enjoys the smallest work-load in the country, and the unique responsibility of reviewing matters pertaining to federal agencies," he said in a press release. "It is not at all surprising that given this Court's responsibility, the President would want to shore up support for his agenda there.

"Additionally, the fervor to fill these judgeships, which led to an unprecedented change in Senate procedure, obviously stems from a similar motivation amongst Senate Democrats," he continued.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has already proposed similar legislation in the Senate, and he said this week that current judges on the D.C. Circuit have told him that there's not enough work to do for three more judges.

"But rather than adopt a reasonable good-government approach, the Senate Majority has demonstrated once again that it is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve its political ends, in this case stacking the deck with judges it believes will rubberstamp key elements of the President's agenda, including health care reform and cap and trade," he said in the release.

The Senate will try to start approving the three D.C. Circuit Court nominees when it returns from the Thanksgiving break on Dec. 9, starting with Patricia Millett of Virginia. The other nominees are Cornelia Pillard and Robert Wilkins.