Believe it or not, things other than the costly failure of the Obamacare website are being discussed and acted upon in Congress this week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for example, is pushing forward in his effort on behalf of President Obama to pack the federal courts with more liberals. Getting Senate confirmation of Obama’s nomination of Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the next step in the court-packing campaign.
Millet has argued more cases before the U.S. Supreme Court — 32 — than any other woman in the country, and she presently heads the Supreme Court practice of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, a prominent law firm. So there are no questions about her overall qualifications for a federal judicial appointment. The relevant issue is the blatant attempt by Reid and other Senate Democrats to push the D.C. appeals court to left. It is currently made up of eight judges, four appointed by Democratic presidents and four by Republican chief executives. There are three open slots on the panel.
Reid let slip the importance of the D.C. Circuit appeals panel earlier this year, noting during a radio interview that he and his partisan colleagues are “focusing very intently on the D.C. Circuit. We need at least one more. There’s three vacancies, we need at least one more and that will switch the majority.”
What Reid didn’t say is that the D.C. circuit is being targeted because it is, as Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, explained on NRO, an obstacle to a lot of the Democrats’ big government schemes:
“Not only is Senator Reid attempting to pack the court with judicial liberals, he is threatening to use the so-called 'nuclear option' unless Republicans cooperate. In simple terms: Democrats are prepared to violate Senate rules they have publicly supported in order to ‘flip’ the D.C. Circuit and help the Obama administration impose its agenda. If these tactics succeed, the Senate will be weakened as an institution, and the nation’s ‘second-highest court’ (to quote the president) will be transformed into a far more ideological judicial body.”
Cornyn is a member of the Senate Judicial Committee and is a former Texas attorney general, so he knows a few things about judges and courts. In a floor speech earlier this week, he elaborated on the backstory of the Millett nomination, saying, “It is clear that the D.C. Circuit Court is in the crosshairs of the majority leader and his Democratic allies, including the president, because they want to tilt the court in their direction — a more liberal, bigger-government direction.” Apparently, only Republicans apply what Democrats like Reid derisively describe as “litmus tests” to judicial nominees.
Interestingly enough, unlike other circuits, the D.C. Circuit is not overworked, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee that a sitting member of the circuit told him that “if any more judges were added now, there wouldn’t be enough work to go around.” That will surely change if Reid gets his way.