This morning, the Judiciary Committee voted on party lines in support of Patricia Millett’s nomination to the DC Circuit, the first of President Obama’s three highly qualified nominees to reach this point in the confirmation process. Before they voted, several of the Republicans repeated their well-practiced talking points about how the DC Circuit’s caseload supposedly doesn’t warrant filling any of the three existing vacancies on the court.
Chuck Grassley again trotted out his anonymous quotes from unidentified judges to justify his vote. This desperate tactic has appropriately been heavily criticized, including in this devastating piece from the Constitutional Accountability Center.
In addition, in the face of data showing that George W. Bush’s nominees were confirmed to the DC Circuit’s tenth and eleventh seats at a time when its caseload was lower, Grassley and others also continued to grasp for another statistic to use, such as the number of cases filed in the previous 12 months. But even that measure shows the rank hypocrisy: In 2003, when Grassley and several other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were urging the Senate to fill the ninth and tenth seats, there were fewer filings than there are now, when they insist that “eight is enough.”
Today’s performance from the Judiciary Committee’s Republicans was disappointing. And when it comes time to confirm the three nominees, they are obviously free to vote no. What would be unacceptable would be to abuse the filibuster in order to block the Senate from even holding such a vote.