President Obama on Thursday welcomed the late-night Senate confirmation of Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the latest successful appointment for the White House in the wake of new rules for approving executive nominations.
“I thank the Senate for confirming Nina Pillard to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which for the first time, will have five active female judges on the bench,” Obama said.
“Her landmark accomplishments on behalf of women and families include Supreme Court cases defending the constitutionality of the Family and Medical Leave Act and opening the doors of the Virginia Military Institute to female students,” the president added.
Pillard was confirmed in the upper chamber by a vote of 51-44 just after 1 a.m. on Thursday.
Under new Senate rules, Obama's nominees, not including those for the Supreme Court, just need a simple majority vote to end filibusters. The procedural shift has been dubbed the “nuclear option,” as it was often threatened by the majority party but rarely employed.
Pillard’s confirmation comes after the Senate pushed lawyer Patricia Millett onto the same court earlier in the week.
Republicans say Democrats are trying to stack the court in the president’s favor.
Before this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, generally viewed as the nation’s second-most influential judicial body, was evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. With another Obama selection soon to be confirmed, the court will take a left-leaning approach on an array of regulations, analysts predict.