People For the American Way

Large and Diverse Group Urges Senators Not to Block DC Circuit Votes

The day before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on whether to forward the first of President Obama’s three DC Circuit nominees to the full Senate, nearly 100 organizations have sent a letter to every U.S. senator urging them to allow confirmation votes for all three.

Signers reflect an enormous cross section of the nation, both geographically and on issues. In addition to national organizations, dozens of state and local groups signed on – groups like Justice Not Politics (from Iowa), Texans for a Fair Judiciary, the Arizona Advocacy Network, the I Believe Project (from Mississippi), the Maine Women’s Lobby, the Pennsylvania Coalition for Constitutional Values, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. Workers’ rights, women’s health, civil rights, the environment, education, fair housing, and LGBT equality are just a few of the issues that signatory organizations work on.

Religious entities like the Union for Reform Judaism, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, and African American Ministers in Action signed on to the letter. So, too, did youth organizations like the Generational Alliance, Young People For Action, and YEO Action. Unions signing on include the Mine Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and SEIU. The diversity included organizations like MALDEF, NAACP, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

With nearly 100 signatories, the best way to fully appreciate the breadth of support is by reading the letter and list of signing organizations. That breadth reflects widespread and growing recognition among the American people of just how important the DC Circuit is, and just how baseless efforts to block votes on the nominees would be.

The letter pointed out the absurdity of the caseload argument that some Republicans are making to justify their planned filibuster effort:

[W]e are concerned that some may seek to block yes-or-no confirmation votes for one or more of the nominees based on unsupported claims that the D.C. Circuit’s caseload does not warrant filling all 11 congressionally-mandated seats. In fact, the court has many more pending cases now than it did when the Senate confirmed George W. Bush nominees Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas Griffith to the 10th and 11th seats in 2005: According to the Administrative Office of United States Court, the D.C. Circuit had 1,456 pending cases as of March 31, 2013, as opposed to only 1,313 pending cases in May of 2005 when Brown and Griffith were confirmed

The letter also explains that the DC Circuit’s caseload is actually much heavier than numbers alone might suggest, due to the uniquely complex and challenging nature of the cases that it hears.

Tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee will vote on Patricia Millett, the first of President Obama’s three nominees. That may give us a sense as to how willing senators are to listen to the clearly expressed wish of the American people to put politics aside and allow our nation’s courts to function properly.


D.C. Circuit, Judicial Crisis Network, judicial nominations, Lower Federal Courts, Obstruction, Obstructionism, Patricia Millett