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Getting Serious About the D.C. Circuit


Would have preferred this in the first term, but still good news:

President Obama will soon accelerate his efforts to put a lasting imprint on the country’s judiciary by simultaneously nominating three judges to an important federal court, a move that is certain to unleash fierce Republican opposition and could rekindle a broader partisan struggle over Senate rules.

In trying to fill the three vacancies on the 11-member United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit at once, Mr. Obama will be adopting a more aggressive nomination strategy. He will effectively be daring Republicans to find specific ground to filibuster all the nominees.

The story also provides an classic example of Democrats being unwilling to take their own side in a fight, although admittedly it’s not clear who the suckers are:

If that strategy, which Democrats have compared to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s failed attempt to change the size of the Supreme Court, does not work, Republicans could filibuster Mr. Obama’s nominees to prevent them from joining the court. Republicans currently hold 45 of the Senate’s 100 seats, and 41 are needed for a filibuster.

I can’t stand this kind of formulation — to be useful, it seems rather important to know who these unnamed “Democrats” are. (Lanny Davis? Pat Caddell? Zell Miller?) But, anyway, assuming they exist these Democrats are idiots falling for ridiculous Republican spin. There really isn’t any comparison between the banal act of filling existing vacancies and the highly unusual act of adding additional seats to a court specifically to alter its partisan composition.

UPDATE: Paul Waldman notes correctly that I misread the article — Democrats were comparing the Republican plan to eliminate D.C. Circuit slots to FDR’s court-packing.   That’s correct, and an argument that could be made by real Democrats.   I regret the error.

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