Senate Rules Reform ? the Weekly Recap, September 20, 2013

Washington, DC – Rules reform and Senate obstruction remained key topics this week on several fronts - particularly regarding judicial nominations to the D.C. Circuit Court and Senate Republican threats to filibuster legislation to fund the government.

On Thursday, D.C. Circuit Nominee Nina Pillard advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Thursday’s party-line vote signaled no change in Senate Republicans’ efforts to block President Obama’s full slate of highly-qualified nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court.

See below for this week’s commentary and analysis:

  • Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), in an NPR piece on the question of considering rules reform: “Drastic action is certainly appropriate if able and qualified nominees are blocked.”
  • Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), in a Huffington Post opinion piece: “Unable to attack her sterling credentials, some of my colleagues have chosen obstruction over responsibility. Three seats on the D.C. Circuit Court have remained vacant due to stonewalling of judicial nominees in the Senate, to the great detriment of the Court and the citizens we serve. In fact, one of the three vacant seats on the D.C. Circuit Court was last occupied by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts eight years ago.

    “The D.C. Circuit is widely recognized to be one of the most important courts in our nation, weighing key Constitutional issues and other matters of federal law and regulation. Given the complexity and far-ranging impact of the cases the court hears, it is critical we fill vacancies without delay.”

Senator Mazie Hirono on Senate Rules Reform

    • Ailsa Chang, NPR: “Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond law school says there may be fewer cases before the D.C. Circuit, but they're way more labor-intensive. “Administrative agency appeals can be exceedingly complex with hundreds of parties and huge records that run to 50,000 pages. And they can take years to resolve," Tobias says. Judges across the country agree. Just this spring, the Judicial Conference of the United States, a representative body of federal judges, concluded the D.C. Circuit still needed all 11 seats for its caseload. Traditionally, the Senate defers to the conference's recommendations.” 
    • Josiah Bunting I, former superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, in a Politico opinion piece:  “Pillard’s work in United States v. Virginia demonstrated her judgment and dedication to upholding the Constitution. Her work has strengthened the fundamental principles of American democracy that VMI was designed to protect. She deserves to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.”
    • Alliance for Justice, “10 Things You Should Know” about D.C. Circuit Court Nominee Nina Pillard: “3. She has bipartisan support—including from top Republican former Justice Department officials. Professor Pillard’s impressive record, integrity, and impartiality have earned her the support of top Department of Justice officials in previous Republican administrations. President George W. Bush’s Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh and former FBI Director William Sessions both wrote personal letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsing Professor Pillard for the DC Circuit.”