Senate Approves Millett, First Nominee Confirmed Since Senate Rules Change

Courts 12.10,13

The Senate voted 56-38 on Tuesday morning to confirm Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, becoming just the sixth woman to serve on the court in its 120-year history.

Millett, whose vote was filibustered on October 31, is the first nominee the Senate has approved since it voted last month to require a simple majority vote to confirm most nominations.

“Today’s vote marks a new day for our nation’s judiciary. After years of backlogs and overworked judges, help is finally on the way for the chronically understaffed and unbalanced D.C. Circuit,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The D.C. Circuit is our nation’s second most important court and Ms. Millett, one of the nation’s leading appellate attorneys, has the skills and qualifications to serve with distinction. And with the upcoming votes on Judge Robert Wilkins and Cornelia Pillard to fill the remaining vacancies, we will soon have a fully staffed D.C. Circuit.”

Millett fills a seat on the court that has been vacant since 2005, when John Roberts left the court to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, President Obama nominated Pillard and Wilkins to fill the two remaining vacancies and both nominees have the support of a majority of the Senate, which is now enough for confirmation.

The Senate is also expected to vote as early as today on the nomination of Mel Watt – filibustered the same day as Millett – to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. “Congressman Watt is poised to be a strong and fearless voice for struggling homeowners and a steady hand to help ensure stability in the housing market,” Zirkin said.