Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Yesterday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) briefed PFAW members about the fight that is building over filling the three current vacancies on the DC Circuit and the need for even more stepped-up advocacy on this. Senate Republicans have said they will block President Obama from filling any vacancy on the DC Circuit, regardless of who the nominee is.
Sen. Whitehouse talked about how this is a continuation of the same right-wing tactics that led to the government shutdown and brought our nation to the brink of default. This time, Senate Republicans are training their sites on doing what they can to keep the second most important court in the nation from doing its job. They have taken what should have been a routine matter of filling existing vacancies on the court and transformed it into a ludicrous charge that President Obama is attempting to "pack the court" simply by doing his constitutional duty.
He also pointed out Republicans are opposing these highly qualified nominees -- Professor Nina Pillard, Patricia Millett, Judge Robert Wilkins - even though no one has questioned their qualifications and abilities. In doing so, he emphasized, the Republicans are going back on a standard that they themselves agreed to when it was President Bush's nominees they were trying to get confirmed – that judicial nominees should only be blocked in "extraordinary circumstances."
Senator Whitehouse thanked PFAW and its members for all the work they have been doing and encouraged us to keep it up – because it makes a difference. If no one speaks out against a bully, they just keep bullying. But as we saw with the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis that Republicans manufactured, Republicans do relent when the pressure becomes too much. So we need to keep pressure on Senators and keep spreading the word to get more Americans engaged in the issue.
Update: Audio now available. Listen to the call here: