For the third time in less than three weeks, the Senate voted on Monday to block the nomination of a D.C. Circuit nominee. Judge Robert Wilkins, the latest victim of the GOP filibuster, follows two others who President Obama nominated to the court in June – Patricia Millett and Nina Pillard.
The Senate also blocked the nomination of Congressman Mel Watt on October 31 to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, where minimal oversight continues to ensure that greater profits are made off of struggling homeowners.
“The Senate nominations blockade must end now. Instead of considering the exemplary and valuable qualifications that nominees like Wilkins, Watt, Pillard, and Millett bring to public service, senators are abdicating their duty to govern,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The extremists in Congress have created a slow motion government shutdown in the judiciary and the executive branch. It’s time to honor the qualifications that nominees like these bring to the table and allow for yes-or-no confirmation votes on all four.”
Often considered the second most important court in the United States because of the complexity of its caseload, the D.C. Circuit has been operating with vacancies since John Roberts left to become Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court more than eight years ago when George W. Bush was president. The Senate filled all 11 seats on the court during his administration, prompting some now to consider a rules change.
“A majority of senators will need to confront the escalating need to change the Senate rules that the minority have abused for too long,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D. Vt., who serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.