President Obama on Tuesday unveiled three nominees for the federal appellate court in Washington, publicly daring congressional Republicans to block their confirmation as the GOP has with more than a dozen of Obama's other judicial candidates.
"My judicial nominees have waited three times longer to receive confirmation votes than those of my Republican predecessor," a frustrated Obama said. "What's happening now is unprecedented. For the good of the American people, it has to stop."
Underscoring his determination to battle Congress, Obama paraded the three judicial nominees into the Rose Garden for the kind of high-profile introduction normally reserved for Supreme Court nominees.
Obama is nominating the candidates for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a court often seen as a training ground for future Supreme Court justices. His nominees to fill the three court vacancies are Georgetown University law professor Cornelia Pillard, appeals attorney Patricia Ann Millett and U.S. District Court Judge Robert Leon Wilkins.
If Congress refuses to approve the trio, Obama is likely to portray the GOP as partisan obstructionists ahead of next year's mid-term election.
Earlier this year, Caitlin Halligan, Obama's nominee to the federal appeals court, withdrew her name from consideration after waiting more than two and a half years to be confirmed. Sri Srinivasan, who worked in former President George W. Bush's administration, was unanimously approved in May for that seat.
The D.C. appellate court is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation and a gateway to the Supreme Court. That court also decides the fate of any presidential initiative challenged in court, which led Republicans to charge that Obama is trying to pack what is now a conservative-leaning court with liberal judges more supportive of the president's agenda.
Obama scoffed at GOP charges.
"The Constitution demands that I nominate qualified individuals to fill those seats," Obama said. "What I'm doing today is my job. I need the Senate to do its job."